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 for Novak, please.
Q. We know how tough Hubie can be. You know how to play him. What is the key to having such a good record against him? What was the key today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s not like knowing how to play him guarantees me a victory every time.
Of course, I know him well, his game. He’s been around for quite a few years. He plays his best tennis on quick surfaces. He has got one of the best, most lethal serves on the tour. When he’s in the rhythm, like he was for most of the second set today, it’s very difficult to return his serve or get in the rally. He was going really quickly through his service games.
Luckily for me I think I also found the good rhythm on my serve, as well. Just waiting patiently for the opportunities. When they were presented, I used them. A couple of break points that I missed in that 11th game, but finally I did play a great point on break point, down-the-line backhand.
Yeah, overall very pleased with the under-pressure moments and how I’m feeling each single day. I’m feeling better and better striking the ball and also physically on the court.
Q. You still don’t know if you’re playing Indian Wells and Miami. How much will that change your plans in terms of being ready for what’s after that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We’ll see. Let’s see what the answer is, then I’ll take it from there. I’ll focus right now on the tournament here in Dubai, then we’ll see what’s next.
Q. Do you think you would leave the decision, waiting for a decision, as late as possible, or do you think you will pull out before the Indian Wells draw?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Exactly, before the draw. Yeah, yeah, whatever the decision is before the draw, if I’m not allowed, I’m going to pull out, of course, before the draw.
Q. We don’t know who you’re playing next. Can you talk about Daniil. You have an interesting rivalry. What makes it tricky?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, Daniil is one of the best players in the world the last five years. Grand Slam winner. Former No. 1 in the world. Not much to talk about. His quality is as tough as it gets when you are supposed to face someone on the hard court particularly.
He is kind of similar to Hurkacz with the service games. He likes to go very quickly through his service games.
We played each other quite a few times. If I get to face him, obviously I know what to expect. I’ve been watching him play. He’s on the roll, winning tournaments, one or more tournaments before Dubai, I’m not sure. But he’s had a great run.
I haven’t had a bad run myself, so I think we’re both in great form and hopefully can have a good match.
Q. And Coric?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Coric, someone that struggled a bit with injuries in the past few years, but had an amazing run in Cincinnati. I think that kind of gave him a lot of confidence and boosted his level of motivation, I guess confidence in order to believe that he is still up there quality-wise. He certainly is. He always was.
He’s got a very all-around game, great mover, big fighter, one of the biggest fighters on the tour. Great guy. Very good friend of mine on the tour. It’s nice to see him playing that well.
Q. This year players will have a chance to come back to Asia again this fall. We’ll have tournaments in China for the first time in four years. You have a huge fan base there, never lost in Beijing, successful in Shanghai. How looking forward are you to play in China again?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: For now it’s still quite far away. I have to see with my team what the schedule is for post US Open, then decide what tournaments I want to play.
One thing is for sure: I love playing in China, I love being there. As you mentioned, I have a great fan base. Over the years they gave me so much support. One of the reasons why I play so well in both Beijing and Shanghai is because of them. They make me feel at home.
So, yeah, let’s see what happens. It’s still quite a long, long time to Asian swing. I want to make a good plan and stay healthy for big tournaments.
Q. Still got your Chinese vocabulary?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Little bit: ni hao, xie-xie.
Last time was 2019, so it’s been a while. I have to update my knowledge of the Chinese language.
Q. At the beginning of the tournament you said the injury, no matter how small, interferes with the mindset, biomechanics of the player. Where do you think you are at right now after going this deep in the tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The first match was I would probably say the match where I felt lot of ups and downs. I started well. Just survived a match against a player who was feeling good that night, playing really well.
I was making a lot of unforced errors, maybe not playing as well. There was no pain where my injury was. There was not that kind of bothering sensation.
But it’s true that it does take a match or two to get into the flow, I would say, go back to the desired level of movement, balance, coordination, stuff like this.
One thing is to actually practice, play practice matches, the other thing is like getting out on official match, nerves, crowd, everything. Then all of a sudden you’re a bit tense, and then things can go wrong way.
Luckily for me, already second match, I’m feeling as close to best that I could possibly feel. Of course, you can always be better. I’m playing on a high level and I’m happy with tennis.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports