Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How are you feeling? It’s your first tournament back, and it was a crazy atmosphere. What do you make of that match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, great atmosphere like in the first two matches. I want to thank the crowd for creating a great atmosphere on the court for both players. The crowd was cheering me on. I was very blessed to be in that position.
Unfortunately, wasn’t my day. I congratulate Jiri. He played better. He just went for his shots. His serve was big. His whole game was big.
When he needed to come up with the good shots, he did, putting a lot of pressure also on my service games. His backhand on this surface where it’s really fast and it stays low is really effective.
Yeah, I mean, I expected myself to play on a higher level, for sure. I mean, I can do better. But credit to Jiri.
Q. Daniil is officially No. 1 now. You said you’d be the first to congratulate him.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Congratulations (laughter).
Q. Just a few words.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Congratulations.
Q. How much of a concern is it for you that in terms of getting a proper flow of matches, you obviously haven’t played for nearly three months, is it kind of a concern going forward, to get into a rhythm or whatever?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, it is. The more matches I play, the more comfortable I get on the court. I need the match play. I didn’t have many matches at all last few months. Yeah, I mean, let’s see.
Obviously, as I said, I’ll have to follow the situation, see how it goes. Wherever I get an opportunity to play, I will (smiling). Hopefully that will be soon.
Q. I wanted to ask you, when you have a bag of matches behind you, how are you able to negotiate your way out of situations like you were in today? It was not like you didn’t have your chances both in the first and the second set.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was keeping my fighting spirit there. I really tried till the last shot. I managed to break his serve when he was serving for the match. Just kept it going, really pushed him to the last shot.
But as I said, I went for the second serve, missed a little 4-5 down in the second set tiebreaker. It happens. Obviously I’m lacking a little bit of the match play. You can see that. Still finding the groove on the court.
As I answered in the previous question, the more matches I play, the more confident I will be, the more comfortable I’ll be feeling on the court.
Practice, match play, completely two different things. Obviously nerves of being on the court, every point counts, so you have to deal with more things that you deal with on practice sessions basically, yeah.
Q. Away from the match, in the last 24 hours, Reilly Opelka made some statements on Twitter regarding the ATP conflict policy that was in circulation last week. Have you had a chance to look on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have not. Sorry.
Q. Since you just lost No. 1, what is your goal now moving forward? Maybe tell us what you’re striving towards.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, my goal is to keep on playing tennis. That’s the ultimate goal. For as long as I really feel like it, to be honest, and as long as I can play, as long as my body allows me, as long as the circumstances in my life as well, the people that surrounds me support me. If all is in favor of me playing professional tennis and competing, I’ll keep on doing that.
Of course I’m still motivated and I’m still pissed off when I lose a match. I care about it. I care about winning every match, as anybody else on the tour, regardless of the age. I’m actually glad that I’m feeling a lot of emotions every single day because it means that I really want to be part of this sport, part of the tour.
As I said, I’m hoping that I’ll be back on the court very soon competing. If I get a chance, I’ll try to make the most out of it.
Q. On the back of everything you’ve said, looking at the draw in Dubai, would you look at today and say this was a lost chance given how much you would have wanted to win it? Would that have been a perfect start for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I’ve had so many lost chances in my life. Every time you lose a match you’re out of the tournament and it’s a lost chance. If I look at it that way…
I don’t want to be mourning about my matches lost. I’m over that. I mean, of course I’m upset that I lose a match. It’s normal because I’m fighting one on one against my opponent. We both want to win. There can be only one winner. But the next day it’s already a next page in your next chapter of your tennis career.
So I’ve lost so many matches in my life, I don’t feel that the matches lost anymore are sticking with me as maybe it was the case earlier in my career. I mean, it’s just another match, it’s just another tournament.
I don’t look at the age really as a restricting factor for my career. I still feel great in terms of my body and the way it’s holding on, the way it’s recovering. It’s been serving me well, so to say. That’s something that obviously encourages me to keep going.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
117187-1-1004 2022-02-24 18:20:00 GMT