Novak Djokovic 20-01-18 interview

  • Def. Ramos-Vinolas

Q. Was the moment when you were lying down on the court the most difficult moment of the evening?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it was okay. Nothing major. I knew I wanted to use the medical timeout because I needed it, but at the same time I knew it was nothing major that can potentially raise the question mark on whether I can continue playing or not.

It was fine.

Q. Can you talk about the extent of the injury? Is it muscular? A bad move?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, I haven't played six months. We have to take that in consideration. I've played a long match against Gael a few days ago. I mean, this didn't happen too many times in my career that I have maybe some tensions in the muscles or whatever, some kind of physical challenges.

But, look, these kind of circumstances in which I'm in at the moment are quite different. I've never faced a situation where I didn't compete six months. I mean, that's why I'm kind of forced to be very cautious of what happens day-to-day, be dedicated to my body and training.

As I said, it's nothing major to be concerned about. It's just, you know, things that surface every day. I guess it's normal. A lot of athletes are facing these kind of certain levels and stages of pain throughout their body in big competitions, and they deal with it. I deal with it. It's fine.

I finished the match. I'm very pleased for that.

Q. You said when you had time off you had time to reflect. Give us some of the things you reflected on.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, when it comes to tennis, I obviously was excited to analyze my game. First of all, I wanted to get the right team of people around me, experts in their field, so they can contribute to the process and the journey of working on my body and my game and improving different aspects that are there to be worked on.

Thankfully there is always something to work on. You know, that's kind of my philosophy of life. It has always been, not just for tennis, but in general there's always something that you can improve and get better at as a person and as a player.

That's probably the most exciting thing about life, is that every day is a new opportunity for you to get better.

Q. You've been exploring in the past the consciousness field. Were you able to do more of that during your time off?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. I'm doing that every single day, trying to live consciously.

Q. Do you meditate?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I do.

Q. Do you find it gives you calm, insight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'll tell you what. I don't want to tell you what I gain with it, but I'll tell what I lose with it. I lose fear. I lose anxiety. I lose stress. I guess, in the end of the day, that's what you're looking for.

Q. If Barilla asked you to become a testimonial like they did with Federer...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm gluten-free. They don't have a gluten-free pasta.

Q. Would you say, Sorry, I cannot accept $40 million?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. I haven't been approached by Barilla.

Q. Winning in straight sets, despite what happened, do you take it as a good sign moving forward to the next round?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, it was 2 hours, 20 minutes, straight-sets win, but I had to earn it. I worked hard on the court. Ramos-Vinolas doesn't hand you the win. He makes you earn it.

It was great for me to actually get into that long exchanges and rallies, to get some rhythm on the court after the Gael Monfils match, which was really up and down, strange conditions of play.

As I said, I'm really pleased with where my game is at at the moment. I know that matches from this moment onwards will get tougher and tougher. I'm not first time in this particular situation. I'm looking forward to the next challenge, you know. Hyeon Chung, who has beat Zverev today, a big win for him, someone that is very disciplined, one of the NextGens. He won in Milano last year. He's playing great. He's fit. He doesn't have too many holes in his game. He's very nice guy. You can see he's a hard worker. It pays off.

Into second week, it's going to be a game of small margins. So let's see what happens.

Q. If you could step back and say what are the one or two things that have changed in the sport, what would you say?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What really change? In terms of the game itself or everything around tennis?

Q. Let's talk about the game.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The game itself.

Well, obviously technology is different. I mean, in the last 15 years, you have amazing materials which are used to produce a racquet, which obviously help with more control, power, rotation. The game has become more physical.

If I could pick one thing that is different today than when I started playing professional tennis is the professionalism of players. What was it, 12, 13 years ago when I started playing professionally, the amount of players that were really professional, not just talking about the team of people that they were bringing in, but just how they go about their everyday responsibilities as tennis players and how they approach tennis and training and recovery and everything, it was not even close to what's today.

I think that's why the quality of tennis is higher today than it was maybe 12, 13 years ago. That's why you see also younger players that are strong, physically fit. We didn't have, in last 15 years, teenagers winning slams like was the case 20, 30 years ago.

The way the professionalism in tennis is going, and where it's going, I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if you have teenage players maybe winning a slam in the future. If you see guys like Chung or Kyrgios, these guys are 20, 21 years old, they look much older than they are actually. You can see the amount of focus they have, quality of tennis that is right up there.

I think that's probably the biggest change.

Q. Today in a Serbian newspaper you were quoted saying that sometimes the players are treated a little bit like animals. I haven't seen it in other papers. I wonder, if you said something like that, what were you thinking of?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know how it was interpreted by whoever was writing a story. I was talking about the conditions of play. I was talking about the health, well-being of players that is in many cases fourth or fifth or sixth priority from the big events, which shouldn't be the case. We should not forget that this is a sport. It's not business. But it became business more than sport, unfortunately, because of an industry that we are part of and which gives us a great life in terms of financial compensations and what we get for the performances.

Absolutely I'm grateful for that, but at the same time there has to be a balance between everything. I'm afraid that we are losing that balance a little bit today.

Q. 10 years ago you won your first Grand Slam. Does it feel like it's been a decade since then?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It feels like it's been a decade because I've played a lot of matches, had a long career, successful. I'm very satisfied with everything that has happened in the last decade. I'm very grateful, obviously.

But, yeah, that was a dream come true. That was probably the biggest springboard I had at that time in my tennis career. That was probably the time when I started believing that I can really win slams and beat the best players in the world.

When it actually happened, when I actually won a slam, that's really when you unlock all the potential you have, and the door opens up for you.

I think most of the players would agree that winning the first slam is always the most difficult one.