18 April 2018: Novak Djokovic (English)

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Novak Djokovic
Press Conference

7-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What a match. You must be satisfied with this thrill today.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, well, I am satisfied with the way I managed to win in straight sets today. It was a real test.

Borna has very similar style of the game like myself. He had a great run in Indian Wells and Miami, so obviously coming off with a lot of confidence from those couple of tournaments.

I could see him coming into the court really believing that he can, you know, win the match. It’s how he played. It was a real battle. It was a real battle.

I mean, I could have won the match earlier definitely, but it was great to deal with these kind of emotions again.

I haven’t played too many matches in the last nine, ten months. I’m obviously lacking that match play. But today’s match from that perspective was perfect to affect me mentally in a positive way.

Q. The next two matches, obviously Dominic Thiem, then possibly Rafael Nadal. Is that what you want at this stage, or would you prefer to have slightly a more comfortable route back into clay, or is that the perfect test for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, the matches are only going to get tougher. I’m going to just think about Dominic. It’s disrespectful towards Dominic and Dominic’s tennis, you know, quality of his tennis, especially on clay, to think about and talk about potentially a matchup with Nadal.

I mean, last year in Roland Garros he beat me in straight sets. He’s definitely top three player in the world on clay. He’s one of the best players in general. Coming off from an injury himself, as well, that he missed Miami. But he came back yesterday, I think match point down, and had a tough one himself.

As I said, you know, he’s a clay court specialist. He’s someone that has a very powerful game and can play from inside of the court, back of the court, spin the ball, flatten it, hit a 220 kilometer-per-hour serve, have an equally effective kick serve. He’s got it all, entire game for clay. I got to think only about that.

Whether the draw is favorable or not? I mean, it’s not the best of draws. Again, it is what it is. It’s not the first time I have to face in earlier rounds some top players. I look forward to it.

Q. You looked so in the zone mentally today, despite the match points coming and going. Have you changed your approach at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, I mean, I think we are all striving as professional tennis players and individual athletes, especially when you’re by yourself competing on the court, to be in that zone, to be focused and not give too much energy away. Frustrations are obviously part of the sport. I have been accustomed to those more than few times in my career. I also had some incredible comebacks, as well.

I think the amount of matches that I’ve played in my life and the experience that I’ve gained over the years helps me to, you know, try to hold my composure in these moments. It’s not always the case. I mean, we get emotional. Sometimes you get carried away.

But, you know, important thing is to bounce back. Important thing is to stay out there and really give your best because in the end of the day there is nothing to regret if you give your best and if you know you’ve done everything you can.

If the player is better, you just shake his hand.

Q. I know these are early days, but do you believe that you can get back to where you were, that you can be world No. 1 again, win Grand Slams?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, I wouldn’t be sitting here in front of you and competing in this tournament if I didn’t believe that I can do that, if my intentions are not like that.

I definitely want to. I always wanted to. Being in that position already and having achieved so much just gives me enough reason to believe I can make it again.

I know that I’m not 20 any more. It’s different now. But I still feel like I have a lot of juice in my legs and I can play really well and compete.

There is a new generation of players coming up. I played against one of them today. It’s great for tennis. Eventually it had to come. We talked about it for so many years, the big four, whether anyone else will win a slam or not. I mean, eventually it’s going to come.

I just hope that I’ll be healthy. That’s the most important thing. I know when I’m healthy, when I’m not dealing with any significant injury that can disturb me on the way to compete and train, then I can really reach that desired level.

Q. There was a theory I saw going around that you’d taken some weight off the racquet to lighten the load on your elbow. Is there anything in that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I’ve changed the racquet earlier this year. I mean, the model is the same. I’ve made some adjustments, so to say. I made some small minor changes that actually in our world are quite significant.

Also Agassi and Radek who worked with me at the time felt it was a good call for big picture and for a long run. I feel more comfortable with the racquet as I go along.

Obviously it takes a little bit of time. I think Roger some years ago also had that racquet change, and it took him a little bit, some months, to get comfortable with it.

But if you think about the big picture, if you think about certain parts of your game you maybe want to improve, maybe the technology, the racquet can help you with that. Why not? It was a big call.

Back in 2009 I went from Wilson to Head. It took me I think a year, a year and something to really find the right dimension, swing weight, balance, all the specifications that were suitable to my style of the game. I think only in 2010, the second quarter of 2010, I started to play with the racquet that I played with all the way till end of last year.

So I’m still with the same racquet as a whole, but I did make certain changes.

Q. Did you lose any power?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Actually, it feels like I gained more power, especially on the serve. I gained more angle.

Look, you know, the racquet is the most important tool that we have, but it’s not more important than our body and our mind, our movements. So it is a tool that helps, but it doesn’t play for you.

Q. When you were serving many breakpoints, serving very well, then when you had match points, nine match points, not so well. Is that more psychological?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Did you see my first serve stat on the match points?

Q. No, I didn’t see.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I made I think seven out of eight on wide advantage side when I had match points. I made all my first serves.

Q. So?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: So (smiling)?

You’re saying it’s not so good. Well, I made all my first serves. He made his returns and we got into the rally. He made me run. From that side where he was returning, there was a slight breeze kind of playing downhill. He was making me run. I was working twice as hard on the other side. I got a little tight obviously. It resulted with a break loss.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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