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February 2, 2020

Novak Djokovic

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4

CRAIG TILEY: Before we get going, I'd like to propose a toast to Novak again on your eighth title. Congratulations, Novak, on a magnificent match and also in the two-week event.

From all of us from the entire organization, from the people of Australia, thank you for your generosity that you've done also with the Rally For Relief, helping victims of bushfires. And thank you what you do for the sport.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you, Craig. Thank you.

CRAIG TILEY: I'd like to propose a toast to Novak.


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Novak.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I know what you want to say (referring to Ubaldo).

Q. In 12 months, you won three slams. Eight Australian Opens. First time you come back from two sets down to one. How can you improve your stats?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Go ahead. Not...

Q. I think is not too bad.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not too bad (laughter).

Q. What can you do to improve your stats? It's almost unreal.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, thank you. Of course, I am grateful to have an opportunity to win another Australian Open trophy.

Obviously at this stage of my career, Grand Slams are the ones I value the most. They are the ones I prioritize. Before the season starts I try to set my form, shape for these events where I can be at my prime tennis, mental and physical abilities.

There are a lot of stats that obviously I am proud of, but they can't dictate my career. I mean, of course there's a lot of history on the line.

I do have professional goals. Grand Slams are one of the main reasons why I am still competing and still playing full season, trying to obviously get the historic No. 1. That's the other big goal. I put myself in this position that is really good at the moment. I'm super happy with the way I started the season. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the year.

I've had that privilege to win this big tournament for eight times. To start off the season with a Grand Slam win significantly boosts your confidence and your expectations are quite high for the rest of the season. But whatever happens, this season is already successful.

What I can do to still improve? There are many things on the tennis court that I can still improve. That excites me and motivates me to go day in, day out with my commitments, with my practice sessions, because there's always something to work on, there are always more trophies to win.

Q. A year ago we sat in this room with you revisiting the zone. The match you played against Rafa was so good. How do we talk about this one tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Turbulent, I would say. It started off really well. I broke his serve right away. I felt the experience on my side playing many Australian Open finals, for him it was first.

It was probably - not probably - it was very important for me to break his serve early in the match, which happened. He kind of broke back and got back into the first set. I won the first set.

I played a bad game at the beginning of the second, a couple of double-faults. After I lost the second set, I start to feel really bad on the court. My energy dropped significantly.

To be honest, I don't still understand the reason why that has happened because I've been doing the things that I've been doing before all of my matches. I was hydrated well and everything. Apparently doctor said I wasn't hydrated enough.

Kind of regained my energy and strength midway in the fourth set and got back into the match. I was on the brink of losing the match. Dominic is a fantastic tennis player that plays with tremendous amount of power in his shots, especially from the forehand side. He uses his slice really well. He disrupted my rhythm in my game at one point.

He was a better player. Probably one point and one shot separated us tonight. Could have gone a different way. I served and volleyed when I was facing a breakpoint in the fourth and in the fifth. It worked both of the times. It could have also been differently. Serve and volley is not something I'm accustomed to. I'm not really doing that that often.

I kind of recognized that as an important tactics in those circumstances, and I'm really happy it worked.

Q. When you hear Grand Slam No. 17 next to your name, what is main feeling? Amazing or four more to go to get the record?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Both. I was sharing with my team and also with some other people just post-match in conversations when they asked me how I feel, I feel exhausted at the moment. It's been a very successful but long month here in Australia.

I probably won't be able to comprehend the achievements I had in my career, especially Grand Slams, until I retire from tennis. The intensity of the tennis season, especially if you're committed to play full season, which I am for many years already, it doesn't allow you to kind of reflect and enjoy the success of a Grand Slam trophy. Already in a few weeks' time I'll be playing a tournament somewhere else in a different part of the world.

I don't take it for granted, don't get me wrong. I'm super happy and grateful and blessed. At the same time I probably won't be able to go through all different emotions until I have some time and I relax myself with my family. Looking at the horizon, we can dig deep in the emotions.

Q. What did you tell yourself at the end of the third set? Did you feel like you were feeling physically good enough to come back?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I definitely did not feel good. I didn't know what the next moment brings. I was trying to keep myself alive mentally as well and emotionally because it was disappointing in a way from my side to actually feel this way. I was a bit shocked that I did feel that way because everything was fine before the match. For the first two sets, everything was okay.

But it's something that you have to accept that you're going through. Those kind of circumstances really kind of force me to let things go and to really try to be in the moment and fight my way back.

As I said, facing a breakpoint early in the fourth was a critical moment where things turned around really. I felt I started to accelerate on my serve, I started to move better, and I felt that he started to make few more mistakes than in the second and third set. I felt an opportunity and I seized it.

After that in the fifth set, it was anybody's game really. I knew that very early in the fifth set it was crucial for me to make a break. I had that mental edge again, and that was enough to win it.

Q. During the match when you were 1-2 down, stats came up that you never have won a Grand Slam final 1-2 down. I wonder if this was in your head during the match. On your well-being during the match, on the TV screen it was shown that your team mixed something up, a drink or a powder stuff, and ball boy was bringing it to you. Just wonder what it was and how it helped you with the well-being.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I did not see the stats. I did not know that I never came from 2-1 deficit in sets in a Grand Slam final. So I wasn't really thinking about it.

The liquids were magic potions that my physio prepares in his lab. That's all I can say (smiling).

Q. You spoke a little while ago about the idea of historic No. 1, maybe that big picture competition that there is now between you, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. I would imagine at some point earlier on that wasn't even considered a possibility to you. Can you pinpoint a moment when that ambition became realistic to you and you thought you would be part of that conversation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was more about Grand Slams, to be honest. Especially the first part of my career, I was dreaming of winning as many Grand Slams as possible. When I started winning a couple of Grand Slams a year, a few years in a row, that's where I felt actually I can maybe challenge Roger and Pete Sampras, all these guys that were winning most Grand Slams in their careers in the history of tennis.

The No. 1 was not really in the equation for me until I successfully finished as the year-end No. 1 for several years in a row. I can't identify exactly the moment when I started thinking about it. That's one of the two biggest goals, for sure. I mean, there is no secret in that.

Q. Since you did not try the champagne, do you not drink any alcohol at all? What is in your bottle?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it's not wine. I thought you were probably thinking it's red wine. It's not. It's a hydration drink that I usually drink, antioxidant drink.

No, I will not drink alcohol. I don't drink it in general. I don't enjoy it. My brother will probably.

Q. Your observations on the two time violations you received in that game? And during the changeover, you touched the umpire, which is a breach of protocol. Do you accept in the heat of battle that was the wrong decision?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I thought that the second violation was not necessary. The first one, fine, no problem. The second one, it's just not necessary under the circumstances for a experienced chair umpire. I thought probably he, in my opinion, could have reacted a little bit better in that situation.

These kind of things in games switch the momentum of the match. It was a very important game. Obviously 4-All, I broke his serve back, got myself back in the second set, then lost that game. He won the second set. That completely changed the momentum of the match.

For touching his shoe? I mean, I didn't know that's completely forbidden. I thought it was a nice really friendly touch (smiling). I wasn't aggressive with him in terms of physical abuse. I just couldn't believe that I got the time violation. It kind of disturbed me. That's all there is to it.

Verbally we did have some exchanges, but no insults because if I did insult him, I would get a warning. Right now that you tell me that, I want to thank him for not giving me a warning for touching him. That's all I can say.

Q. You and the other two in the big three time and again manage to come back and triumph under incredible circumstances. What do you think as athletes and people are within you that enables you to succeed so often?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's hard to speak on behalf of Roger and Rafa. I have utmost respect for these guys and admiration for who they are, what they have achieved, how they go about things on and off the court.

I can speak in my own behalf. I think we all had different trajectories in our lives. I mean, we all grew up in different circumstances, different countries, different upbringing.

My upbringing was in Serbia during several wars during '90s, difficult time, embargo in our country where we had to wait in line for bread, milk, water, some basic things in life. These kind of things make you stronger and hungrier for success I think in whatever you choose to do.

That probably has been my foundation, the very fact that I came from literally nothing and difficult life circumstances together with my family and with my people. Going back to that, reminding myself where I came from always inspires me, motivates me to push even harder.

That's probably one of the reasons why I managed to find that extra gear or necessary, I guess, mental strength to overcome challenges when they present themselves.

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