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August 25, 2020

Novak Djokovic

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/T. Sandgren

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I just wondered, a couple matches in, obviously today that was your 20th victory of the year. You're unbeaten, but does it feel like the same season as the matches earlier this year? Are you maybe treating this week as a sort of fresh start?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, obviously this season is different, because we had a six-month hole in the calendar. But the season has restarted, as well, and the circumstances that we just have to accept are as they are. You know, we can't change that at the moment.

But I think in terms of the quality of tennis, in terms of opponents that I get to face, that's pretty much the same. You know, I'm treating this tournament and this restart of the season as normal as it can possibly be.

Q. How is your condition today? Did your neck hold up okay compared to last night?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Actually I'm pleasantly surprised with the way I recovered and felt today, just overall physically but also with the neck specifically, because that was a little bit of a concern.

You know, going back four, five days, I did struggle quite a lot. I wasn't really sure how that's going to react after a first match. But it did really well.

Yeah, so, you know, I'm as closest to painless neck as I can be. I mean, it's maybe just 5, 10% more and that's it. You know, I'm feeling very good. And that has positively obviously reflected on my game today.

Q. I'm writing a story about Daniil Medvedev who is one of the guys who has had success already in this tournament. He did really this time last year. Curious what you have seen from him in the last 12 months or so that made him rise so quickly, especially on hard courts, as a threat?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Daniil is a great player and also someone that puts a lot of, I think a lot of thinking, a lot of strategizing into his game into understanding how he can improve.

He's very intelligent tennis player, and obviously being so tall gives him advantage to hit big serves. With big serves and good movement and not too many unforced errors especially from the backhand corner, that puts him right up there as one of the best players in the world.

He had a tremendous US Open Series last year, you know, playing finals in, like, five, six, I think, tournaments in a row, which is incredible. Very, very impressive.

I have seen him play a little bit today. It seems like he really loves playing on a U.S. hard court. It suits him really nicely.

Yeah, I mean, he's definitely where he deserves to be, top 5 of the world. I have known him also in his junior days. I know he's someone who is still not yet satisfied, is going to keep going and try to reach even bigger heights.

He definitely has the game, has the potential for that, particularly on hard court. You know, his game is very complete. He's improved forehand that was maybe the weak point in his game. Backhand is as solid as anybody's backhand. It's so hard to break down his backhand. He's an impressive player.

Q. With his sort of unconventional technique when you've played against him like in Cincinnati last year, does it surprise you the way the shots come off his racquet with his sort of unusual technique?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Yes, I guess -- yes, it was a bit unusual at the beginning, especially from the forehand side. You know, it's not the best-looking technique, but it's efficient.

He manages to get that racquet speed in the moment of impact, which allows him to hit the ball and balance and not make a mistake, actually.

I think he's penetrating through the court with the forehand more. I guess you can see the, you know, the results of his work that he's putting in and trying to improve that shot.

As I said, backhand is just so hard. It's kind of cat and mouse when you play him, you know, really trying to change the depth and not just go kind of left/right, because he likes the rhythm. It's tough to play him, really, on any surface, and particularly on hard.

Q. Walking around the grounds today and seeing those games and beach chairs, that area, have you checked it out at all? Have you played any miniature golf or sat out in the sun, done any of that stuff?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Actually, I have not. But I have seen a little bit of just a little glimpse from the side of the central area of Flushing Meadows tennis center, and it's a ghost town, you know, (smiling). Not many people around. We're not used to seeing it that way.

I mean, US Open is arguably the tournament that has the best energy. You know, the people just get involved so much. It's going to be missed. It's missed already, for sure. We can't sit here and pretend like we are okay even without crowd. I mean, we have to accept it, but, I mean, I personally definitely hope that this is a temporary thing.

But, you know, yes, I saw that some of the players played some hoops and some golf. It's good that there are some activities outdoors for players that allows, I guess, all of us to spend some relaxing social time off the courts, as well, because we can't really go anywhere except, you know, the hotel or whoever stays in a house and site.

It is how it is, and potentially you can stay here for a month or maybe even more, so, yeah, it's great. It's great that there are some activities out there.

Q. Early in the year I presume you sort of jokingly said, Hey, maybe I'll go undefeated this year. Think that can happen? Just talk about this run.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, anything is possible. I have experienced some things in my career, in my life, that I have to say I believed that they can happen, but, you know, they were not seeming so possible but yet they happened.

I don't want to count that out, I mean, especially because of the fact that we are -- we don't know how the post-U.S. tour season is going to look like, whether we are going to play, whether there is going to be another lockdown in Europe or not. We are hoping not.

But, yeah, I mean, it's a long way. If the calendar is as it is, you know, look, it's not -- right now it's not something I'm thinking about. It's not my goal, actually, to go unbeaten, but I wouldn't complain if I do (smiling).

Q. I didn't see the end of your match. Were you showing your usual, how do you say...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Celebration?

Q. Celebration. Did you go to all four corners? Will you do it for every match?


Q. Aren't you afraid sometime that someone is not taking you seriously if you do it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, I know that you're the first one who doesn't take me seriously. No, I'm kidding.

Look, I'm going to keep on doing it, because I just -- I don't know. I think it's part of the routine. It's part of also me paying a tribute and a thanks to that match and to the court and to that occasion.

I try to be conscious of, you know, the opportunity to play and win and everything. You know, sometimes we take a lot of things for granted in life, and obviously I have been on the tour for so long, so you would think, well, it's one match, who cares?

But I try not to have that kind of mindset. So that celebration also grounds me, you know, kind of centers me and makes me aware that I have to be also grateful and share the energy with whoever is on the court.

You know, there is not many people, but there are a lot of people hopefully watching and, you know, that's for them, as well.

Q. I hope one day you will dedicate also some imitations again, as you were doing at the beginning where you were not afraid of the reactions of the people.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Tell me, which one do you want to see?

Q. Well, right now maybe Sharapova is still one of my favorites. She's not playing anymore. She will not get offended.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No worries. Think about it. Next time you tell me maybe which young players you'd like me to imitate.

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