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May 14, 2019

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How was important for you, if was important, to win in Madrid after some defeats unexpected?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was very important win for I think my confidence level and also for Roland Garros coming up around the corner. After Australian Open, I struggled to kind of find my best level. The win against Dominic Thiem in the semifinals was very important to kind of build on that win. Then finals was a great, great performance. I didn't drop a set in Madrid.

For sure I'm coming into Rome feeling good and feeling a bit relieved, as well. Obviously it's different when you win a Masters Series event on clay. You just feel like you took a step towards where you want to be and you're headed in the right direction.

Q. Before Grand Slams, Roland Garros in a couple weeks, is there anything you do during the week before differently than a big ATP event? How do you specifically prepare for Grand Slams?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Again, it's slightly different preparation I think for Roland Garros than maybe other slams because you don't have maybe as much time. I mean, depends on how I play here in Rome, how far I go. If I have a really good tournament and go all the way, obviously I'm taking several days off, then starting to train again.

Comparing to other Grand Slams, the weeks prior to Australian Open, for example, you have at least seven days of training in Australia. Same for US Open. But here it's a bit different because the amount of tennis that you play.

I'm not looking to have so much practice in Roland Garros. I think I'm playing well. I'm in a good form. Physically I feel good. I'm motivated. So it's not going to change too much.

I've been doing certain things a similar way for many years that have been working for me. There's no reason to alter it in any way drastically.

I've played historically very, very well and successfully in Paris. I won the title once, but I played finals several times, many semifinals. I know what it takes to go far in a Grand Slam.

But my attention is first focused on Rome.

Q. You're going from here to the players council meeting where there's the vote for the board.

Q. Have you made your mind up or not on who you're voting for?

Q. Whether you have or not, what qualities are you going to look for in a candidate? What do you think the next person needs to have?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First of all, you guys have to understand that I see the way it was presented in the media. I didn't really like it. I don't think it's fair that you guys point out myself as the decision maker. I'm president of the council, but it consists of 10 players. The majority decides. I am one of the 10.

I do have respect of players, of course. I'm very privileged to be leading the group. But I cannot make decisions on behalf of the group, nor any of my stands can make a difference in majority votes for someone else or something else. That's going to be the same kind of process now.

We are having presentations, six candidates are going to present. After that we'll see. Obviously I don't know what they're going to come up with when they present. We'll talk as a group and then make a decision what is a priority for us, what do we want to get out of them.

I think we collectively have to understand the, so to say, profile of a person that we're looking for, whether it's experience in sport, in business, both, that's to be discussed.

Q. If you don't think you should be accountable as president, then who should be?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's not about accountability. It's about the way you guys are portraying the whole process, kind of putting all the weight on one guy. You know what I mean?

I am president of the council, but then we are not voting. If you know the system and the structure, the board votes. We have representatives of a board. I'm not the one going and voting yes or no on the board. It's three board representatives. They have the right, and historically they have been doing something also against the council, because they feel responsibility, they feel like that's the right way to go about and represent players in sport.

We have been selected from majority of the players to be representatives of players, but we cannot always influence player board representatives that are the ones that are going out and voting the way they think they should.

Why should I be always the one accountable for that if I'm not the one voting?

Q. If the board members who then vote against your wishes are ousted, like Roger Rasheed, it seems like there's direct influence on who picks the board.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, it has happened in the past and they've stayed.

Q. It does seem like, from what I've heard, you are voting in the majority consistently, you're not getting overshadowed. You are leader by title in this group, and the No. 1.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: And your source is reliable (smiling)?

Q. Sure. If you ever want to say anything that happens there, you can shed more transparency on it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You have firsthand information from the council?

Q. Sure.

Q. If you want to refute something, great. If you want to say, You are not saying the right then, then are giving no counter-story, that is not as useful.
THE MODERATOR: We can work on that later.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I would like to answer that.

I know you guys are looking for a story. When you have a certain agenda behind certain stories and articles that are written, you cannot always react and act from the position of defense because then you would expose what your weakness is.

What does that mean? We have to react to every certain article you write or anybody writes because you're exposing the council, you're exposing me as an individual, that I'm against certain individuals that were, I don't know, on the board or leading the association or something like that.

I just don't understand your comment about that we have to react with the opposing story on every single article. It doesn't make any sense. Why would we?

Q. I am not asking for reaction.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: But that's what you said. That's what you said. You said, If there is a certain story that has been portrayed in the media, then you're expecting an opposing story so you can counterbalance both, you can then compare and understand who is right or who is wrong, right?

Q. All I want is accuracy. I feel like with no transparency, that makes it very tough.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: So you believe that any story that is out there is transparent and honest and true?

Q. I'm not saying I vouch for every story that's been written. I don't know every story.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you do vouch for every single information that you get from your allegedly reliable source, right?

Q. I'm not sure what information I have that you disagree with, with me personally.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. I'm not pointing out on any specific information. It's quite paradoxical what you're saying. You're saying from one hand I don't vouch for every story, whatever, but you get information from your source and then you write about it, you tweet about it, or you put it out there. You create a buzz, you create the friction.

Of course, it creates a story. It creates a whole wave of tsunami against us. What are we supposed to do? React over every single tweet? I mean, it's not fair really.

Before understanding the proportions, the ramifications, understanding what you're doing with every single tweet that you have to our sport, to our players. I'm not saying everything that you're tweeting about or writing about is wrong, absolutely not. I respect. You're looking for a story. I understand it. I respect it.

Q. I'm not looking for a story. What specifically is wrong? You are saying not everything is wrong, so what is wrong? What have I said that is incorrect?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, but you're pointing out on specific information. I'm pointing out on the whole process of what is the way you go about things. For me, it's not fair.

If you want to write the whole story and understand the both sides, you would get a little bit more information rather than calling out council or myself or anyone else in the process when you get your information from whatever source.

Q. When I try to get information from you, you say nothing. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I should let other reporters ask questions because I don't want to take up everybody's time.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, okay, I'm not the president of ATP. I understand you want to get information from me. I can give you some information. Some information I'm just not in that privileged position to give you, or I can, but then it's not fair towards president of ATP or board members that are supposed to also communicate.

I feel that I've been exposed way too much for being president of the council, having that role. You know what I mean? Everyone holds me accountable for everything that happens in tennis at the moment, which I think it's unfair.

I'm not the only one there. If someone wants to understand the way the structure works, then he wouldn't be having that kind of approach.

That's what I'm trying to talk to you about here, not about informations that are going out there. Some of them are correct, some of them are not. I just feel like the way we go about things, there's a lack of respect.

Just pointing out one guy, you know, putting all the pressure on him, that's the only thing. Nothing against you personally. I'm just feeling like the process could be handled differently.


NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, they want to ask about tennis, for sure.

THE MODERATOR: A couple more questions.

Q. I wanted to know, did you hear that the Italian Tennis Federation decided to double the price for the tickets tomorrow because there is Roger Federer playing? We were somehow surprised, didn't expect that, especially since Federer was not here for the last three years. You have won here more than he did. He never won. What is your reaction to that? Do you think is fair? What was said was that the price was doubled because they wanted to say thanks to those who bought the tickets first because they paid less and they must be happy that someone else is paying more. That is was the reason which was given. I'd like to know what you think about, with your sense of humor.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, this is the first time I hear that information. I don't think that because Roger hasn't won here that it kind of affects his value or what he brings to the world of tennis or any tournament. I think he is the biggest name, historically the guy that won the most titles. He's a huge brand in sports worldwide. One of the biggest of all times.

From one side maybe I can understand. I don't feel offended by that or I don't feel it has disrespected me or Rafa or anybody else.

But, I mean, bottom line is that if it brings more tickets and more attendance to this tournament, that's great. That's great for everybody, you know. I hope it does. If not, then too bad (smiling).

Q. Are you surprised that Zverev lost today? What do you think about Cecchinato as a player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'll answer the Cecchinato first. I respect him a lot.

Q. Not Cecchinato, Berrettini won. Sorry.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven't watched Berrettini too many times. I've seen he has done really well in the last 12, 15 months. I think he's won some titles, he's played really well. He's very tall, very strong guy. He has a big serve and moves well for his height.

I watched it in the locker room a little bit. They have kind of similar styles. I mean, they're tall, big serves. Look, Matteo had a huge crowd support. If you're playing in Roma, the whole stadium is supporting you, it can be a big advantage. He didn't have really anything to lose.

Sascha is already an established top player. He's expected as a top player to reach final stages of a tournament. Of course, all these expectations can sometimes play with you mentally. On the court you uncharacteristically make errors, can't play some shots you normally do.

Well done to Berrettini. What can you say? It's a great success for him.

Thank you.

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