An Interview With.. Novak Djokovic | 2018 Rogers Cup, R1 (Transcript/Video)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

N. DJOKOVIC/M. Basic

6-3, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I wanted to start with the doubles match from last night if that’s okay. It’s not very often you see two guys who just contended a Grand Slam singles finals decide to team up in doubles. How did that come about and what are your thoughts on the potential of those two young Canadian opponents that you faced?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was fun playing a top player, someone that I faced in Wimbledon finals not long ago.

We don’t play doubles that often, so I think it was quite, you know, exciting to play with each other and to see how well we can play. And I thought we did very well.

And the Canadian teenagers are great players. Both of them, you know, very lively players, very, very focused, very disciplined. Physically and mentally strong, very mature for their age.

I mean, Denis is already established top 50 player, and he’s making his way up. You know, beating Nadal last year at Montreal, it was a big win for him, and he had some great matches along the way. And he showed that he can play also on clay and other surfaces, which is great to see.

And Felix, you know, he’s not even 18 and playing at this stage and showing some dedication on the court and willpower, which is quite nice to see and refreshing. We want to see young players playing well and challenging the best players in the world.

So I think good days are ahead of both of them.

Q. What do you feel is the biggest improvement in your game, either mental or physical, or both, since you’ve come back from your extended time away from tour?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it’s consistency. You know, if I have to choose a shot, it would probably be serve. You know, I think I served very well in Wimbledon, the fastest surface in our sport, where a lot of the tactics are dependent on how accurately and how well you serve.

And I thought I did extremely well, especially against Nadal when I needed to, you know, in that thrilling match, and then against Kevin in the finals.

And I thought I served very well today, as well, except those double faults in the game when I dropped — you know, lost the break. But in general I worked a lot on that shot.

And I think just in general, consistency of playing on a high level match after match, I haven’t had that postsurgery for several months. You know, I was struggling, you know, to play two or three matches in a row consistently well. So that has changed and obviously feels good.

Q. And did the mental come into it, then, because of that struggle?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Obviously, I mean, it’s frustrating when you’ve played so well for seven, eight years and knowing that the level that you play on is not there for you for several months. I worked really hard, probably harder than ever, but I just wasn’t able to play at the desired level.

And that was something that I had to deal with mentally, but it was a big lesson and big challenge for me. I had to accept and just deal with it and obviously be patient and trust the process that eventually things will fall into place, which they did.

Q. After Wimbledon, you said you were questioning whether you could consistently play at that high level that you did en route to the championship. Why did you have some kind of doubts? But does it help knowing that in the past you can play that high level of consistency and bring it day in and day out?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I really didn’t understand your question. Can you go again, please?

Q. After Wimbledon, you kind of said you were questioning whether you could play at that same level.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wasn’t.

Q. Okay.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m pretty sure I wasn’t questioning anything after winning Wimbledon, my friend. Maybe before that.

Q. Yeah, before.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Before Wimbledon maybe.

Q. Is it tough to kind of regain that confidence level to get back to where you were?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Confidence is a tricky thing. It takes a lot of time to really get it, and it takes such a short time to lose it.

So, you know, I’ve had many times in my career situations where I have experienced that firsthand. And I think that kind of experience helped me in the whole process, you know, to really deal with all this, you know, maybe daily struggles on the court that I had, and particularly for most of the clay court season and postsurgery in Indian Wells, Miami.

But still, at the end of the day, you know, there was a big part of me that trusted that, you know, eventually I’ll get where I want to get to and I trusted the team.

I got back with the old team. Marian and GG, you know, joined forces again. And we sat down and made a strategic plan. We looked at the schedule, and we just had to look long-term as we always did.

And, you know, it came maybe even before that we thought it was going to come, you know, the big title like a Grand Slam.

But, yeah, I mean, we are obviously very satisfied and content that that has happened. But at the same time, it’s still a work in progress.

Q. One of the moments that stood out, I think, after your Wimbledon victory, for those of us especially who are parents maybe, is when you spotted your son in the crowd on court. How much has becoming a parent changed you as a person and also what impact has it had on you as a tennis player as well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Huge impact. Positive impact in every sense: as a player, as a person, as a father, husband. Just I’m so grateful that I had this blessing to really become a parent two times.

And, you know, always dreamed of having my kids, you know, in the court side box watch me play, hopefully win. And it was the ideal scenario that has happened in London. After I won the match, the only thing I was thinking about was whether he’s going to make it to the box or not during the trophy ceremony, and he made it.

And, yeah, it was one of those moments that I’ll cherish forever.

Q. Obviously, unbelievable semifinal with Rafa at Wimbledon. You have now played him 52 times in your career. Do you appreciate those matches more as you both get later in your career as you might have earlier?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Probably, yes. I mean, you know, we’re not teenagers anymore. And I think we both are very pleased that we’re able to play at this level.

And, you know, Rafa being No. 1 in the world, deservedly so, is always probably the biggest challenge that you can face in sport, you know, facing him on clay. Any other tournament, but especially on clay.

Wimbledon semifinals was definitely one the best, most exciting matches that I was part of, and that’s not uncommon with Nadal. You know, we had plenty of those in the past.

And, yeah, it was one of those matches where literally — you know, it was so even that it really could have gone either way. And until the last shot, I didn’t know whether I was going to win. I believed I could, but yeah.

It was a really thrilling match and just one of the matches that I’ll never forget and carry with me for the rest of my life.

Q. Going back to playing with Kevin in the doubles, how do you balance having to compete against these guys week in and week out and then also have a friendship or be able to team up with them?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, I mean, I must admit it was exciting, but it was also strange because, you know, he’s a top player. We faced each other less than a month ago in Wimbledon in finals. And now you are sitting next to him so close and then, you know, you’re drinking water, sharing towels. You know, you feel each other’s breath and everything.

I think it’s quite an interesting experience for both of us and refreshing at times because we see each other mostly across the net. To be on the same side of the net was great, and I enjoyed it very much so. I’m looking forward for another match with him.

Q. Your first healthy hard court match in probably a couple of years. Just talk a little bit about how you’re feeling and now do you view yourself as one of the top guys in this section of the season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I’m definitely back, you know, back to playing at a level that I want to play on. After winning Wimbledon, I know for sure things are different now.

And my approach to the tournament is also, you know, more confidence, more sort of optimistic. I always am very optimistic and going to the tournaments with high expectations and ambitions, but it’s quite different when you have Grand Slam title under your belt.

Hard court has, you know, historically been my most successful surface, so there’s no reason for me to believe that I cannot do well. US Open is, obviously, the tournament that I want to shine on, that I want to play my best tennis on, but at the same time I enjoy Canada.

I’ve had plenty of success in Toronto and Montreal, and I wanted to start off well. I think I played a solid match. Obviously, it takes a little bit of time, you know, to get used to the new surface. The conditions here are quite different from, you know, practicing in Europe or, you know, or other places.

So I’ll just focus on this week and see how it goes. You know, it feels great not to have the pain in the elbow, obviously, and playing on one of my most preferable surfaces, and let’s see how it goes.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 

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