An Interview With… Novak Djokovic | 2019 Wimbledon (R3)

Novak Djokovic talks to the media after his victory against Hubert Hurkacz 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4

Q. I’ll just be blunt. I was curious about the incident in the first set over your hat. Is it a continuation of the issues you had in the last round? Could you enlighten us?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very simple. Last match, actually second round on Centre Court, I was starting to unpack my hat. The chair umpire said he needs to check whether or not I’m able to play with it. He got a confirmation that I’m able to play. So I got the permission. I played with the hat.

The same hat I took out now, I was not able to play with it. That’s why I was just questioning that call. I mean, no one has approached me before the match to tell me, Well, you can’t really play with the hat this match. That’s all.

Q. It was hot and sunny. I imagine a hat was probably quite necessary.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I’m kind of used to it. I don’t play always with a hat. It depends on whether it’s sunny, whether I need it, hot, angle of the sun, whatever it is.

But, you know, I just accepted it and dealt with it. That’s it.

Q. Obviously you don’t know your next opponent. In case it’s Felix, can you have a word about him, what you think of him, his personality, his game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He’s very impressive in many aspects. He’s very mature for his age. Very, very nice guy. Good manners. Respectful. Wants to learn. He’s very dedicated.

He’s probably the one that I like the most from the young generation as a tennis player and as a person, I think. All the superlatives for him definitely. He’s been impressive this year, everything he has done. Still a teenager, but he’s one of the best players in the world. If you see the results from this year, he’s one of the most consistent players.

Q. The highest seed left in your half of the draw I think is Milos Raonic at 15. On paper that would suggest you would go deep next week. I think today’s performance indicates you can’t overlook anyone at this point.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely. There were a lot of top seeds that went out in early rounds in Wimbledon. That’s why these kind of tournaments are regarded as the most important events where you always come out with your best game.

The lower-ranked players, they find these tournaments as a great opportunity for them to highlight their strengths, to eventually get a scalp and win against a top player. That’s what happens.

I’m going to have two days off now, playing last 16 on Monday. Plenty of time to get ready, work on certain things that maybe have not worked today so well.

Q. What didn’t work so well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think credit, first of all, to Hurkacz for playing well. He pushed me. He served well. He attacked the ball mid-court. He gave it all and played a great quality match, I thought.

I think I should have capitalized on my opportunities also in the second set. I wasn’t really on top of his second serve. I was a bit hesitant in the play, which wasn’t the case in the first two matches.

But I think third set was great. Fourth set, as well, very solid. I’m really pleased with the way I finished the match.

But there’s always something to work on. Look, it’s a Grand Slam. Certainly it’s a surprise not to have any top-10 player left in my side of the draw. At the same time respect to everyone who won against those guys and top seeds. My attitude towards every next opponent is not going to change because he’s not ranked as high as someone else.

Q. I know it’s really hard to impress you, but were you impressed about the two-handed backhand of Hubert? It would be considered one of the best shots he has.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I was doing analysis of his game. I saw that he likes to take the ball early from the backhand side, not stay too long cross-court, down the line. He feels comfortable. He has done that efficiently today in some important moments.

Obviously, his serve is his greatest weapon. For someone that is as tall as him, he’s moving really well. I thought he was getting some stretch balls that you wouldn’t maybe expect him to get. He was sliding, diving, making some great points. Yeah, it was great performance from his side.

Q. Can you say a few words about Marcos Baghdatis’ retirement.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Marcos, first of all, we’re going to miss him because he has one of the most I think charismatic characters. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like Marcos. Over the last 15 years I played on the tour, everyone loves Marcos. He’s very joyful, respectful, outgoing, very friendly. He was a top player, playing finals of slam and getting to top 10 of the world. He has had a great career. He can be very proud.

As someone that has been competing with him, being part of the tour with him in the last 15 years, I’m glad that I was part of his era. I wish him all the best, and his family, of course.

Q. I know you come here to Wimbledon for quite a long time. We see big changes, new roofs. What are the changes that are most important for you behind closed doors to make the life of the players easier?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In terms of Wimbledon?

Q. Yes, in Wimbledon.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, so we have to understand that Wimbledon has the board or the council that makes decisions. Whether we like it at not at times, we don’t really have an influence on that. They’re obviously at times trying to have a conversation, sometimes not. But they make the calls.

When they change the rules, we have to accept them, respect it, and that’s it.

Q. I think more about improving the facilities to make the life of players easy.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Again, as a player I can only make suggestions. Obviously, as I said, Wimbledon is entitled to independently make any decisions on changes that they wish to proceed with. That’s something that I have to respect.

It’s nice that they’ve invested in the locker room renovations. Court 1 also looks nice with the roof. It’s probably not as easy to make changes here in Wimbledon comparing to maybe some other slams or other tournaments. Have to respect the members and the hierarchy, the structure, how it works, the tradition.

I think that is something that is really nice, and I respect that about this tournament, the tradition. They managed to nurture it, maintain it for so many years, even with modernization, business infiltrating in every aspect, so to say, of sport in last few decades. They kept their all-white rule.

Also you don’t see any advertisement or commercials on the Centre Court. Everything is focused on the two players. That’s something that is really special. No other tournament has it. It’s really nice.

Q. Have you had a chance to read the victim impact statement?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m not answering questions about Justin or politics or anything. Sorry. Please respect that. I’m just focusing now on tennis. We’ll speak when we’re done with the tournament.

Q. So you’ve —
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you.

Q. I won’t ask you directly about that, but I would like to respectfully note in our last discussion you said that you would get back to us the next time. This is an important issue. We’re gathered here now.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sorry to interrupt. I told you I’m going to read it. When I read it, I’m going to come back to you when I want to. I don’t want to do it now. My focus is on tennis.

Q. I appreciate you’re saying you will come back.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you.

Q. If you have to face Humbert, who is one set up against Felix, do you know anything about him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ve seen him in Roland Garros a little bit. I’ve seen him last year US Open. I’ve seen him now first set here against Felix. Big serve, very explosive, very dynamic player. He’s tall. Has a big game from back of the court. Flat backhand, very solid. He can play anything really. I mean, he’s an all-around player.

He has the really good slide serve wide. He uses that. He uses his height very well. He’s got a good technique. He’s one of the leaders of the next generation with Felix and Hurkacz.

It’s great. I think it’s great for tennis to have the young guys doing so well, showing the quality of the tennis they possess, but also showing the dedication, commitment, confidence they’re able to play on the big stage, challenge the best players in the world.

Q. Bernard Tomic got fined his full £45,000. As president of the players council, do you think that’s right for a guy who has seven games, last set 6-4? Does that sit right with you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have not seen the match. Bernard definitely has a history of playing matches with less effort, let’s call it that way. But when you tell me now the score and what has happened, and I followed it a little bit the last few days, I don’t think it’s fair to take all his prize money away.

I have to see obviously his behavior, movement on the court, how much effort he put in. He deserved his right to be in this tournament. He’s a top 100 player. He’s worked all year to be here. He deserves most of that prize money, I would guess.

If there is a fine, that’s okay. If there is a judgment from the organization, the tournament, the referees office that he was not putting as much effort as he was supposed to, which I also understand. It’s not nice for the crowd, the other players that maybe would want to be in the position to fight to get to the second round.

He played against Tsonga, who is a great player on grass. Various factors were in place. I don’t think right now if you ask me that’s completely clear to take the entire prize money.

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World No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced into the quarterfinals at the Wimbledon with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over France’s Ugo Humbert. The match lasted one hour and 42 minutes. Speaking in a post-match interview, Novak said: That’s always the aim, to reach the final stages at Grand […]