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February 25, 2014

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/D. Istomin
6‑3, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  That was a nice comfortable start to the tournament for you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It was.  It was a tough draw against Denis who can play big from back of the court.  He's a tall guy, can serve well.  He loves playing on the hard courts, and he likes playing on the big stage.
I have played him earlier this year in the Australian Open, third round.  I know he can play, you know, equally well against any of the top players from the baseline, and, you know, I needed to stay focused and kind of believe in my shots.
It wasn't easy as the scoreline indicates.  I needed to work for my games.  My serve worked really well in the second set, and that helped me to get some free points.
But having not played for more than four, five weeks, an official match, obviously it takes its toll on the court.  I do feel it a little bit, but as I said, I practiced a lot, I put a lot of hours on the court, trying to develop my game, trying to get myself in the right shape, and it's going to click sooner or later.

Q.  Playing a night match in front of quite a big crowd and an opponent who is good but not too good, was that ideal, get the desire going?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, of course.  The best matches in this tournament are 7:00 p.m.  That's the prime time you can get in the schedule, and I expected myself to play one of these two, Monday/Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.
I got used to it over the years playing, and that's the time when most of the people come after work.  They come to watch tennis.  The atmosphere is great.  I mean, I enjoy it.  It's a beautiful stadium.  I have had lots of success in this court, in this tournament, and I always look forward to coming back.

Q.  You get to play Roberto Bautista.  Last year he made you work for it a bit in the second set.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes.  He won against Del Potro in the Australian Open, if I'm not mistaken, in a thrilling five sets.  He has improved his game significantly since last year, and winning against Del Potro in a Grand Slam says enough about his quality.
I'm going to get out on the court and try to win that match, of course, not underestimating my opponent.

Q.  You said on court that you feel your game isn't where you want it to be, so what else would you be working on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's just a match situation.  You know, it's quite different when you are in the practice courts and you're playing points and when you have thousands of people watching and you're playing in an official match.
Mentally it's quite different.  That's something that is going to come with me playing more and more matches.  Hopefully I'm going to have five here.  We will see.  I'm going to take it one day at a time and see how far it can go.

Q.  That break is quite a long break, isn't it?

Q.  Is there any way in which there is some kind of catharsis or reassessment of what you've got to do?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I know what to do because I have had particular situations that are similar to this year.  I think in last three, four years I have had a same schedule.  Maybe I have played Davis Cup last year, and that's the only official few matches that I have played between Australian Open and Dubai.
So I kind of followed that schedule for quite a few years.  And because I have had lots of success in last three, four years in Australian Open, was winning titles, and I decided that it's better not to go indoors in Europe or in clay in South America but stay, you know, rest for a little bit and then prepare myself and continue on the outdoors hard court.  So kind of follow that schedule.
This year I have lost in quarterfinals of Australian Open.  I lost to a champion, Wawrinka that had a great tournament.  My schedule hasn't changed.
The only thing I decided was to skip in playing Davis Cup, because I felt like mentally the most of all I needed to take some time off tennis and really recharge and get ready for this tournament and what's coming up after.

Q.  Would you ever consider going to the South American tour?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes.  And I will go eventually.  Especially after my visit to South America in November after the Davis Cup final last year, I went to play a couple of exhibition matches in Chile and Argentina, and it was an incredible time.  Two years ago I played in Brazil, also.
So I love the people there.  The energy is fantastic, very positive, and I really will look to adjust my schedule so I can go there eventually sometime.  But it just doesn't depend only on me, even though it's me playing and it's an individual sport, but there is a big team of people behind me that are obviously deciding together with me what's the best schedule and what we need to play.

Q.  Novak, there are a few traditions happening here annually, the cake cutting with the winning and the belly dancer, and there was this funny video with you last year.  Are you still going to be belly dancing tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I'm going there, going there.  I'm going to see if it's the same belly dancer or they change it.  That's the best part of the night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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