An Interview With.. Novak Djokovic (Monte Carlo, R3)

D. THIEM/N. Djokovic

6-7, 6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. This week has been pretty fantastic compared to the previous ones. Do you succeed to find the ray of sunshine after a match like this?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was a lot of positives in this tournament. Three matches played. The last two matches have been almost two and a half hours, today three sets obviously against one of the best players in the world, especially on clay.

It was quite close. I mean, I felt like in the beginning of the second set and third set I had my chances. I didn’t use them. Well, after that he was a better player. He came up with some big serves when he needed. He improved as the match went on.

But, you know, of course I wish that I could have played certain shots and points a bit different. At the same time I have to understand that realistically I’m still not at that level, which I’m getting to.

I’m feeling like it’s been getting better every day. I’ve had three matches here. I didn’t expect anything. I played without pain in the elbow, which is important. I have my coach Marian back in the box. So lot of good things.

We’ll continue working hard in this process, trying to build up. I’ll probably play one of the two tournaments next week. I will decide tomorrow which one it will be. Hopefully I’m going to get a wild card. We already contacted the tournaments, and they’re happy to give us an invitation. We’ll see.

I’ll speak with Marian and probably play because I’m feeling like I need matches. I didn’t want to decide anything before seeing how it goes with the match today. Since I lost, I feel like I still need more matches. I haven’t played too many matches, as I said, six, seven, eight in total since July.

I look forward. I look forward to build more confidence on the court, to get my game on a desired level. I thought intensity level was quite high today. As I said, it was pretty close till about, I think, last game, last point. We were quite toe-to-toe. But he was just the better player in the important moments.

Q. Thiem said he thinks we’ll be seeing you at the very top very soon. Do you view this as a kind of turning point that you came through these matches without any pain? Do you feel like you’re back on track?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s certainly what I’m intending to achieve, intending to be, just to get my game to a higher level. But that comes with time. I understand that it’s quite hard to play match after match on a very high level if I didn’t have too many matches behind me, if I had an injury, if I had an absence from the tour for six months. All these things we have to take in consideration.

Ideally I’d want to be playing the way I played for so many years. But obviously patience is required, trust in the process, believing in myself, in my game, people around me. I really believe that if I continue doing what I’m doing so far, believing in myself, I know eventually I’m going to get there. I’m going to get there.

I’ve played some great tennis in the last couple matches. Still some ups and downs. But every match here in Monte-Carlo had some periods of brilliance and the tennis that I really enjoyed, I wanted to play. That obviously gives me a lot of positive energy for what’s coming up.

Q. You just mentioned you are looking forward to play next week. Any chance you’ll play in Budapest, or only Barcelona?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s going to be one of the two. I’m going to make that decision tomorrow.

Q. Have you sort of agreed with Marian on the continuation of your partnership?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Actually we talked. Marian will stay with me till the end of the clay court season, then we’ll take it from there.

Q. You just said you have to make a decision between Budapest and Barcelona. Normally what makes you choose one instead of another?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, it just depends. First of all it depends on various things. The conditions of the tournament. Obviously one tournament is stronger than the other, Barcelona. I’m obviously at a different place this year, at this moment, and 12 months ago in terms of ranking, in terms of how I feel on the court.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m lacking matches. That’s why we all agreed that it’s quite important for me to play, try to use every opportunity possible. In the schedule I have planned Madrid and Rome after that. I played three matches here. I haven’t played at all too many matches earlier this year. I’m also looking forward.

I would like to build my form so I can peak at Roland Garros. That’s obviously the most important one on this surface. But, you know, Madrid and Rome are back-to-back weeks, so that’s very demanding depending on how I play. I’ve had a lot of success in those tournaments.

In the back of your mind you also want to be fresh for those tournaments, but at the same time I’m not planning to play the week before, so that’s good.

But, as I said, I still have some time these days to spend here and rest and then train and eventually go to either Barcelona or Budapest.

Obviously I played Barcelona once in my life, very early in my career. I don’t recall too much on the conditions there and so forth. Budapest, it’s a new tournament, so I’m going to speak more with my team and make a decision tomorrow.

Q. Is it the case you’re now playing without at all thinking about your elbow? Is it still a little bit there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There are some traces obviously. It’s been so long that I’ve been carrying it, the traces are still there. I don’t generally accept, you know, fear or anything like that. I don’t like. I try to face these kind of emotions if I have them, doubts. I mean, everybody has them. But I try to tackle it as soon as something surfaces so I don’t carry it for a long time.

With the elbow, it’s been quite a story over the last two and a half years. But I feel that very small traces are still there, potential scenarios. Whether my elbow can be hurt if I play too long consecutively, I don’t know.

At the same time, I mean, I’m not thinking about it too much because the only thing I can influence is now, is present. I’ve done, with people around me, everything in our power to get my elbow in the best possible shape. I’m really happy with the way things are working out right now with the elbow. That’s all I can say.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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