Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Novak Djokovic Wimbledon first round press conference

Novak Djokovic Wimbledon first round press conference
Novak Djokovic Wimbledon first round press conference

Novak Djokovic speaks to the media after his 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 win against Tennys Sandgren
Q. How did you feel about your play today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I thought it was overall quite a solid match. I don't think Tennys has played a great match. I think he made a lot of errors. Just the third set, a couple games he changed up the tactics pretty well. I don't think he was at his best.

At the same time, you know, I made him play a lot on his service games. I thought I served accurately. Quite swirly conditions. Difficult to play. First match at Wimbledon. You always want to start off well. I've never played him before, so it took a little bit of time to kind of get used to his pace and rhythm.

But just overall was quite solid performance.

Q. Do you know much about him and the off-court stuff that people say about him or no?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I've heard he stated something in Australia. I'm not sure exactly what it was. Do you want to?

Q. It's a long story. But people talk about his politics, stuff that doesn't put him in a good light.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, we live in a world where whoever is not politically correct is being judged and left alone. Again, I'm not defending him. I don't know what he was talking about exactly. At the same time whoever speaks of his mind, if it's not something that people would expect you to say. I think there is nothing wrong in people saying what they think.

Q. What do you think about the impending change of having the shot clock, which currently is an internal mechanism, external for you to see?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, at US Open. It's official now. I've heard about that obviously at the players council meeting some days ago.

I obviously was not happy at all, as all the other players in the players council, for one very simple reason. Not because of the shot clock, we could discuss that. It's because we as players are never reached out, never advised. We are not participating in the conversation or decision making. That's something that is really frustrating, to be honest, from a player perspective.

Q. People on the council, if you have no say, what's the point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely no say. Whatever a Grand Slam decides to do, they have 100% of power to do that. We're not taking away that power or questioning that. We are just questioning the very, I would say, fair expected, so to say, approach from them, which is the players, the actual people that make that show.

And they will phase this particular shot clock change that they are going to introduce this year to the US Open, I think it's fair to say are supposed to be advised before and maybe just have an ordinary survey or anything just to understand what players feel about that.

I know that they've tried it out last year in quallies. It was not too many negative comments about it. But it's quite different if you introduce that to the show courts and main draw, playing best-of-five.

Look, again, I think it's just them reaching out to us prior to making this kind of big decisions that are going to affect the play, they're going to affect the rhythm of a player. It's just important to have these conversations before you make any decisions.

Q. After a 35-stroke rally, there's almost a human need to take it in, have a little time. That's part of the beauty of our game. Why do you think these officials don't understand that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, I'm not completely against it. As I said, I feel like they should have reached out to players before they make an official decision, before they announce it, at least to see how players feel about it. By not doing that, they show how respectful they are of us, which is unfortunate.

Shot clock itself, I'm not too much against it. I understand what they are trying to do with shot clock. I mean, ATP tried to introduce it to NextGen Finals last year. You're trying to make the tennis, which is a very traditional sport, a little bit more, so to say, modernized, a little bit more cool. Everybody is trying to get this new generation of people, young people, that are very, so to say, connected to the digital world, and the attention span is not maybe as it used to be, except if you're a real, real tennis fan.

I understand the whole business or mechanics behind it, motives, I would say. But it has to be in line with, so to say, the respect towards the tradition of the game. That's why speaking to players is important because then you would understand how players feel.

As far as I understand, informations that I got, the chair umpire will call time and will start the 25-second shot clock when he actually calls the score. It's up to chair umpire. As previously mentioned by you, a 35-shot long rally, to wait for the crowd to finish the cheers, then calls the score, then that's when it starts. That's fine. That's actually respectful towards the players.

Q. You were just answering a question looking ahead. My question is looking back, 10 years ago to when Rafa beat Roger here and broke through to win Wimbledon for the first time. What memories do you have, assuming you watched that at the time, of that event?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I remember that he tried it several times, you know, failed at the last step against Roger. Then was it his third finals against Roger that he managed to win it? One of the most incredible Grand Slam finals of all time. It ended up just short of the nighttime.

Yeah, I mean, these two guys are great champions. It's hard to find more superlatives, complimentary words that haven't been said about both of them on and off the court. I have the greatest respect for both. They keep on showing why they're best players in the world.

Q. What do you make of what they're doing now at this age, having come back from whatever their various things were?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It inspires me, it inspires a lot of players. After all they've achieved, the titles won, coming back from injuries, and still managing to get to the top spot of the world and still winning the biggest tournaments in the world. It's quite inspiring. All I can say is (speaking Serbian).

Q. If you had to explain to an upcoming player what it takes to get to the No. 1, what it takes to stay there, what would you say?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's not that simple to put it into one phrase.

First of all, you have to dream it, then live it, believe in it. You have to really be able to make that decision to devote, if not all, then most of your daily life to that. Tennis is an individual sport, it obviously makes it that much tougher to actually get to the biggest titles because you're by yourself, so you have to take the, so to say, credit and the blame for winning or losing.

At the same time it is a team sport in a way because, you know, creating a team of experts around you, a team of people that you trust, that contribute to the betterment of your performance in every sense of that word is something that is also crucial.

There are certain stages of your life where you have to kind of, because of the costs and everything, not everyone has support of the Federation, so you have to kind of go through that with the support of your parents, whoever it is that is behind you. Sometimes by yourself to go through that futures, challenger levels, and try to build your way to the top 100 of the world where it's a completely different, so to say, level of tennis.

But, you know, a lot of things have to come together. It all starts and ends with your inner strength and inner power, your inner belief, how much you are really ready to kind of sacrifice and invest in that.

Q. Rafa has been tweaking a little bit with his racquet specs, more balance, stiffness. Did you go through that process of changing, fine-tuning?

Q. Wimbledon social media put up a video today with iconic moments from Wimbledon history. They picked the moment that you were eating the grass. Do you still have that taste in your mouth?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'll answer the second question first because I love tasting the grass of Wimbledon. That means that I'm in the finals and I won. That's kind of like a little tradition, I would say, the three times that I managed to win this great tournament.

I've always dreamed of winning Wimbledon. Kind of constructed little trophies when I was seven years old, eight years old, of Wimbledon, raising that trophy in front of the mirror, imagining myself to be a Wimbledon champion. That was always one of the biggest dreams.

When I imagined myself doing that one day, I said, I must eat a grass. For some reason, I don't know why I picked that. The first time I've done it, it was the sweetest dessert I've ever tasted in my life. That experience hopefully I'll get to taste one more time before I finish my career.

But being part of Wimbledon every year is quite special because this tournament is really, really unique.

I have just recently, end of last year, changed the specs of my racquet. The model is the same. Certain specifications and dimensions of the racquet are slightly different. The reason for that is because of my elbow injury, surgery.

Q. More flexible?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I haven't really focused on that too much. It was a little bit the length, other stuff, the string pattern and so forth, the weight of the racquet. That has allowed me to, so to say, have let weight on my elbow and shoulder while serving. That's the part of my game where I felt the most pain last couple years. I had to compensate my technique a lot.

Yeah, I have done that. I think every single tennis player has done that in certain stages of their career.

Q. Your serve, you said you might change it some more. Have you added any more changes? Looked good today.

Q. Are you at a spot where you feel right?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I think, well, speed-wise today it was quite windy so I wasn't paying too much attention on how fast my serve goes. I've I never was one of most big servers in terms of speed of the serve. I tried to always use my serve accurately and create, so to say, a better position for the first shot in the rally, trying to put myself in a tactically good position. I always went for precision rather than power, when it comes to serve.

I think with that new racquet, that helps me create more of angles. I'm pretty happy with how I'm serving at the moment.

Photo and press conference from Wimbledon Website