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June 23, 2008

Novak Djokovic


7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Novak.

Q. Pleased with that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I'm pleased. I'm pleased to get through. Always the first matches obviously are tricky ones. I had ups and downs throughout the match, but I managed to get in the control of the match towards the end. You know, especially in the fourth set, I was happy with my performance.
It's not easy. You know, playing on the Centre Court, almost full stadium, a lot of expectations. Most of the first matches are, you know, the trickiest ones. But happy to get through.

Q. He rolled off five games at the end of the second set. Was that a case of perhaps you had lost concentration?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I did. I did. You know, I was trying to get used to the conditions. It's quite different if you are one of the first players to get on the Centre Court and feel the grass. It feels really great. I'm really privileged to just be a part of this tournament, which is really nice. The third match today.
The grass is pretty slow. I was trying to get used to the returns. I was trying to be aggressive at the same time. But he was serving pretty good in the first two sets, which was unabling (sic) me to step it up. Maybe I lost the focus towards the end of the second set, but I managed to come back.

Q. It's probably the most famous tennis court in the world. Is it a special place for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is. I mean, all this history and tradition which we have in Wimbledon, it's enough to just have a look. History of this tournament, it's for me most privileged -- sorry, most prestigious and the highest possible tournament that is in sports.
Just playing here and feeling this atmosphere, a lot of fans of course have a big knowledge about tennis. They respect players. They appreciate what you are doing. It just feels good to be there.

Q. Can you remember your first matches, who they involved, when you used to watch from home?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: At the times, probably Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, these guys. I still have a picture in my head of Pete Sampras holding this Wimbledon trophy. So this is one of the pictures in my head which stayed all the way throughout my career and which motivated me actually to become a professional tennis player.

Q. After such a great year that you've had, are having, have you noticed any more pressure on you now? When you're going around Wimbledon, are you being stopped and recognized more than perhaps previously?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's all part of the sport, and I accept it in that way. It feels nice when the people come up to you and greet you in a positive way. Of course, not everybody likes you, but most of the people that come up to me just congratulate me or just showing me the appreciation for what I have done in the past two years.
And it feels great, you know, when you get recognized in the streets or in the tennis site. But sometimes, you know, you just have to avoid that as much as you can so you can keep the quietness and just have some private time off and save the energy.

Q. You said some people might not like you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. Not everybody in the world can like you. That's normal.

Q. But you're a popular player, aren't you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: This is not on me to judge, I would say.

Q. When you come to a tournament like Wimbledon, how many people do you travel with?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, a lot of people. I try to reduce it now. I'm giving a lot of hard time to organizers probably because of the badges and accreditations I'm asking for and requesting for.
I mean, everybody wants to come and see. I have a big family, of course. I have two younger brothers. They're also tennis players and want to come. I usually bring my parents and brothers as a priority people. And then, of course, some friends or relatives which all want to be a part of such a great event.

Q. How do you think about getting to the final four, the semis? Do you think you have a good chance to get there? You've beaten Lleyton Hewitt here before. Do you think he's still got the ability to think that he can get to the final four, perhaps the final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, certainly I feel optimistic wherever I go. I have all the reasons to feel that way. I mean, I've been performing great tennis in last year or so, especially this year, winning a Grand Slam, a couple of major titles under my belt.
I have a lot of confidence. And heading to Wimbledon, you know, I gained much more confidence and I'm, of course, motivated to do even better than I did last year. Unfortunately I finished that way.
But I've played finals of Queen's, which give me a little bit boost up and more believe in myself. Of course, the first round, okay, I haven't played on the top level. But these are -- you know, the first couple of rounds you just need to get used to the conditions and go step by step. So, yes, I feel like I can go a long way. But, still, I need to take it slowly.
Lleyton is still a great player, very tough player to play against on grass. Even though he's maybe not on his top of the level.

Q. Not as good as he used to be?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Exactly. He was No. 1. He won a Wimbledon. He played a couple of finals and semifinals of the Grand Slams. You have to respect that, obviously. He's mentally one of the toughest players on tour.

Q. We saw Niki Pilic around today. Can you talk about your relationship with him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, sure. I mean, we have a great relation since I was 12 years old. He helped me a lot with his advices. He dedicated a lot of his time to my career. I will never forget that. He has a very special place in my life. He's being involved recently with Serbian Tennis Federation. That's his purpose of this trip to Wimbledon, just to see how the Serbian players do, and talk to us, of course, about the upcoming Davis Cup.
He's still involved not just in my career, but my brothers' careers, as well. They have a base in his academy.

Q. Was it good sort of preparation for later in the tournament today, have a big left-handed player smashing a few balls back at you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure, sure. As I said, he's a big server. Obviously, he was going for the shots. He had nothing to lose. I was the favorite in this match. He felt his opportunity playing on the Centre Court, so you could see that in the first two sets.
It was dangerous, you know. It could go either way if I wasn't mentally strong enough. But luckily for me, I have this experience that in certain moments I know how to play, what shots to play, and it feels good just to get through.

Q. What about more particularly the ball coming from the left side?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, sure. I mean, I'm not thinking for finals or semifinals. But it's certainly good to win against the lefty, because always the left-handed players are different. They use this slice serve more. They have this, okay, little advantage I can say. There's not many of them.

Q. Did you learn anything about yourself today, the adversity in the second set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, every match you play I think you learn something new. Obviously you just want to make the things as perfect as possible. I'm a perfectionist, so I want everything to be a hundred percent. Of course, that's not possible. Sometimes I just lose my focus and I get frustrated. Obviously, that second set was not a good picture of my game.
But, again, I have to look on the brighter side. I got through.

Q. Do you think the prospect of facing Rafa on clay or Roger on grass, which is the harder or the biggest challenge for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven't played Roger on grass, so I can't really say. But it would be, of course, certainly a big challenge for me. It's still a long way. I mean, they've been very dominant in the last four or five years. Got to give all credit to them.
Mentally two of the strongest players in the world. Two best players in the world. I'm one of the players behind which is trying to keep up with them and get a place higher.

Q. You talked about adapting to the conditions on Centre Court. How different does the grass play here compared to Queen's?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is quite different. Of course, for the people who never played professional tennis, obviously they don't understand the difference, even on the same surface, different conditions in different tournaments.
The grass in Queen's was quicker and the ball was bouncing higher, which was more suitable to my game. Even though, I feel good here. Usually on the start of the event, you know, there is so many matches in the men's and women's tennis, singles and doubles, that the grass is not grass any more in the second week. It's almost like, you know, a sand.

Q. There have been quite a few fashion statements today. Roger Federer's cardigan, Serena Williams' raincoat. Have you thought of something, or is it an adidas policy to keep it a low profile?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't understand. About what?

Q. About the fashion statements.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we'll work on that. This is of course not only my job, this is the job of adidas obviously. But if they want to be creative, I'll accept it.

End of FastScripts

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