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May 27, 2019

Novak Djokovic

Paris, France

N. DJOKOVIC/H. Hurkacz

6-4, 6-2, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Next round you're facing a Swiss player, Laaksonen. What do you know about him? What do you think about him, basically?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know too much about him, to be honest. I never played against him, and I did watch him play maybe once or twice. I'm going to have to do my homework (smiling) and see what happens.

Q. Hubert says that he had a chance to train with you at Monte-Carlo. If you could compare his performance here at Roland Garros and training, there is a huge difference or how would you describe his performance?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I never faced him in official match before, and I know he's one of the leaders of the next generation. Very nice guy. I practiced with him several times. Yes, we practiced in Monte-Carlo.

But you can't really compare practice session with official match. You know, I knew that he has a big serve and big forehand and I obviously studied his game thoroughly before I came onto the court.

I had to start sharp with the right intensity. And break of serve in the first game gave me, you know, wings, I would say, and relaxed me a bit so I could just start off in the best possible fashion.

I thought most of my service games I won comfortably. I was pretty dominant on my serves, and, you know, I thought I played very solid match. Obviously he probably played first time on Roland Garros center court, so it wasn't easy, you know, emotionally to kind of deal with all this, you know, circumstances that are quite different for him.

But as I said, you know, I'm sure we'll see a lot of him in the future, because he does possess a really powerful game.

Q. I read interview of you, and you said a few minutes ago that Hubert is among new names that are interesting in tennis. Do you think that Hubert can be in the top 10, top 12, top 20 in the future?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think so. I think he definitely has the potential, because, as I said, of the quality game, big serve, big forehand, and very solid backhand.

Obviously there are always things to improve, and I'm sure he's still young, so as he goes along, he's going to improve. He had a couple of big wins against top 10 players: Nishikori, Dominic Thiem in big tournaments. Doesn't seem like he's overwhelmed by the occasion. Seems like he likes to play in big matches, and he seems very mature for his age.

You know, I think he's got a really good chance to reach the top of the tennis.

Q. Can you say a little bit about the new court? How did it feel for you first match there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very nice. Great job, Roland Garros, for sure, to make this kind of renovation and proportions of the constructional work that was done in less than 12 months is really impressive. It's definitely not easy to accomplish all of this, and everybody is talking about center court, but there are many other different changes in facility improvements.

I'm very impressed. And also, it's a pleasure to play in the new court. It's different. It's a different feeling. It looks different, obviously, and feels a bit different. Feels a little bit more like indoor, which I like. And, you know, the original, so to say, look of center court that we are used to for so many years is not there anymore, so it's a bit of a strange feeling. But absolutely, you know, marvelous stadium. I think it's beautiful, and they have done a good job.

Q. You come into Roland Garros with some newfound strength. Can you tell us about what happened when you were exercising in the gym the other day? Have you received a bill from Roland Garros for what happened there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I probably will. I have not received it yet, at least it hasn't come to my attention, but I'm expecting a bill.

The damage was pretty big, I must say (smiling). You know, huge muscles that I possess, it's kind of expected I make the big hole like that.

Q. Can you tell us? What were you doing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I was just doing my pretraining session warmup routine, and I took the medicine ball and I just swing with the ball quite hard in front of me, kind of to warm up upper body, and after a second throw, I heard a crack. The wooden floor completely collapsed under (smiling).

They fixed it in less than a day. Next day it wasn't there. But next day I was doing it on a concrete wall and concrete steps. I learned my lesson (smiling).

Q. In terms of focus and nerves for first round, was it maybe easier to have to face such a tricky opponent right away to get into it, or was it not different at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I like the fact that I had, you know, a very good quality opponent in the first round, because that gets me going with the right intensity from the start.

You know, I'm focused, I'm determined, and sharp from the blocks. That's what happened. You know, even though I never played him, never faced him in official match, I still felt he can be a great threat if I allow him, you know, to play his tennis.

So I actually thought I played well. All the elements in my game worked well, so I'm very pleased.

Q. What do you have to do at Roland Garros this year to give yourself the best chance to win? What is the one key thing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To win a tennis match (smiling).

You know, it's quite different situation for me now than it was 12 months ago, obviously. Very different. And I put myself in a situation where I can actually make history of tennis again and obviously I have very high ambitions for this tournament. It's not a secret.

But at the same time, it's not the first time that I'm facing these kind of circumstances. It's not the first Grand Slam in my career. I have played so many. I know it's two weeks potentially long, and I just need to be in my lockdown, so to say, mentally, and just do things that have worked for me in the past.

Depending on opponent, you have to adjust tactically, but I'm definitely going to work on my game so I can improve every match.

Q. If you could compare your generation of tennis players like you, Andy Murray, and the others, and the current, like, the people who was born in the 21st century, mentally, how could you compare your generation and the newest one mentally? Do you see any differences?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, first of all, there is always, you know, some special players coming up from every generation. There is no specific rule for some unique talents and players that made history of this sport.

But in general, I feel because the tennis has improved so much and professional sport in general that young athletes are more dedicated, more professional, more responsible. They understand the kind of holistic approach to, so to say, professional tennis and professional sport in general.

15 years ago when I was making my breakthrough, I didn't think it was as professional as it is today. You know, you see guys like Hubert or Denis or Felix or, you know, the leaders of the new generation or Tsitsipas, Zverev, they all have big teams of people around, experts, for every field. They got everything covered. So they are fully committed, they know what they are doing, and that's what it takes.

I think in general, tennis has improved as a game, and I think that's what incentivized and inspired young athletes to follow up.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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