An Interview With.. Novak Djokovic | 2019 Wimbledon (R2)

Novak Djokovic speaks to the media after his 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win against Denis Kudla.

© Wimbledon / Youtube

Q. I think that’s the 11th consecutive time you’ve reached the third round, actually puts you high on the list, just second behind Jimmy Connors. How are you able to maintain that consistency at this stage of the tournament over the years? Federer and Nadal haven’t.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s the first time I hear about that stat.

Consistency was one of the, I guess, keys and focus points of my Grand Slam career going back 10 years. I always aim to play my best in Grand Slams. I guess the quality of tennis that I produce in the slams is pretty high. That’s what allows me to have the results like this.

That’s the only explanation I can think of. I don’t think there is anything particular about Wimbledon or any other slam. It’s just that I try to really prepare myself and aim to peak at the slams, whatever the surface is. These are the major events of our sport.

Q. 2011 was a big year for you in general. Especially here after 2011, it seemed like your record really zoomed. Fewer ups and downs. Do you think about that? Do you have any explanation for that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes. End of 2010 was big transition for me in my life, in my career. Winning the Davis Cup competition with Serbia was very special, one of the most special feelings, positive feelings, that I ever had in my career on the tennis court.

I think in the private life, things started — I kind of managed to find a balance between private and professional life. Just allowed me to perform at my best. 2011 was one of the best, if not the best, season I ever had. That’s the year that kind of changed things around for me. It allowed me to excel in my potential and the quality that I possessed.

After that I started to trust myself more in the deciding matches and points, had more self-belief, more confidence. I kind of established myself as a top player.

Of course, between my first slam in 2008 and 2011, I had couple of great years. I mean, I was No. 3 in the world those three years consecutively behind Nadal and Federer, which is definitely not bad.

But 2011 was a huge shift I think. It got me to a different level. It got me to I guess champion’s mentality. Allowed me to win slams. Started to believe I could beat those two guys, because they were so dominant. They were taking away all the slams.

Q. You didn’t do your celebration at the end tonight. Was there any particular reason?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn’t? Yeah. Well, I didn’t — it was too late.

Yeah, I didn’t do it. I didn’t feel like it, I guess. At that moment it was just — I don’t know. I usually do it. Next match I do it, hopefully.

Q. You only wore your cap in the second set for one game. There seemed to be a suggestion there was an issue with the color of it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I took the hat out of my bag. Chair umpire saw that I might use it. He asked whether I have what is fully white. The inside of the front part of the hat is black. It was. He asked for the permission. I got the permission to use the hat.

I used it because the sun was really, really low from the side. It was really hard to see from one end of the court, especially the first set and a half. It was kind of very awkward angle, so it was bothering both I think Denis and me from that side. It was quite difficult to see the ball.

Q. Please allow me to say how much I admire you as a tennis champion and a wonderful person off the court.

Q. My question relates to Justin, who I’ve known and admired for two decades. As we all know, he has many wonderful qualities. Try and express myself clearly. I’m wondering whether you’ve read the victim impact comments that were made by the person who he attacked and his wife. If you have read that, how can one possibly consider this man who had this brutal attack in front of children, there were other incidents that have been reported as well, for leadership in our wonderful sport?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Is he proven guilty?

Q. He said ‘no contest’, and judge stated to him, Because of that, you will be considered guilty. Do you understand, Mr. Gimelstob?
He told her, Yes. He also told a number of us that it would all come out and he would prove himself innocent, and he has not done that. The report is devastating. My question as our leader, have you read it and will you read it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I will read it. I haven’t read it. I’ve spoken to Justin. He has explained to me that he still is going through the process, the legal process. He’s not done yet on the court. Obviously I know only his side of the story.

I’ve had, as I mentioned before, really good relationship with Justin. I think he is away from our sport at the moment for a reason. I think he needs to take time to deal with this serious matter.

We as sport, players, cannot have this kind of disturbance, so to say, in our sport or in our structure. He understands that.

If he in the end of this whole process is proven guilty, I mean, obviously there is no support from my side for him to be part of the sport.

Q. In a court of law, he agreed that he would be adjudicated, was said to be guilty. That is what occurs in California law when you say, No contest.

Q. You are accepting your guilt, and in this case to a horrific crime.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Okay. Listen, I will go through the documents. I can speak to you next time.

Q. I appreciate that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There is no reason for you to attack me.

Q. I’m not attacking you at all.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s how I feel.

Q. It’s very emotional. You’re our leader.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just a second, listen.

I understand that. I really do. I understand that. You were expecting me to be responsible for the council and for the players because I represent them.

Q. I’m not talking about the council.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What are you talking about? I want to finish this.

Q. I’m talking about your comment, I haven’t thought about whether Justin should come back and be a part of the council, of our leadership. That’s what I’m referring to.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You’re referring to the council leadership. That’s what I was talking about.

Q. To Justin coming back to being a council member, yes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Let’s take things slowly here. That’s what I was referring to. That’s what I was saying.

I just don’t feel it is necessary for you to point a finger at me specifically for something that he has or hasn’t done. I told you that I’m going to go back and I’m going to read all the papers, then we can have a discussion after that. That’s all.

There is no reason for you to talk to me in that way because I feel like you’re pointing the guilt at me for some reason for what he has done or for supporting him.

I am telling you I have very good relationship with him, and I always have. I’m not going to lie about that. But if he is guilty about committing a crime, as you said, or whatever has happened that night, that obviously changes things around for his future role in our sport.

But if that is not the case, then I’m just saying, if that is not the case, then he is a huge asset for our sport and our players. He has always been. He’s been representing players very vocally for 10 years. You have mentioned that at the beginning, right?

Q. I know. He has great skills.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s all. That’s all.

Q. I’m not accusing you of any crime.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I know you’re not accusing me of a crime. I feel like you’re putting me on the spot because of what he has done or that I have not been taking enough action as a leader. That is what you are referring to.

Q. Because of what you have said. Because you haven’t looked into a very serious situation.

Q. Thank you.

Q. We didn’t have time yesterday because you weren’t here to talk about Thiem losing. My question is, the three players who are behind the three fab playing this tournament – you, Nadal and Federer…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: And Fabbiano. He’s a fourth fab.

Q. You have won 53 slams between the three. The three guys – Thiem, Tsitsipas, Zverev – all lost in the first round. They are considered the successors of the fab three or fab four. What is your opinion? Aren’t you surprised? How much are you surprised? We were.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is fair to say that it’s surprising, unexpected for the guys that you just mentioned to lose in first round of a Grand Slam because they are top players.

Q. No. 4, 5, and 6.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Because of their ranking and because of their results this year, their form, everything. Zverev hasn’t been playing this year well as Dominic and Tsitsipas. But, yes, they are top players. They are carrying now the weight of the top player, which means more pressure, more expectations, more attention.

So I remember how it was for me when I won my first slam in 2008. We talked about a few minutes ago. For the few years, I was No. 3, 4 in the world, which was great, but I wasn’t able to make that next step in the slams and win slams. I know how that feels.

There is time. I understand that people want them to see a new winner of a Grand Slam. They don’t want to see three of us dominating the slam titles. Eventually it’s going to come, in about 25 years, then we’ll all be happy (smiling).

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