Roland Garros

Friday, 27 May 2022

Paris, France

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference


6-3, 6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: You are through to the round of 16 once again. What do you think of your next opponent, Diego Schwartzman?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he's one of the quickest players we have on tour, and his best results in his career came on clay, so of course he's a tough opponent without a doubt. I know him well. We played some really good matches on different surfaces.

So playing against him, you always have to expect another ball coming back. I'm ready for the physical battle. I haven't spent too much time on the court. I have been striking the ball really well, so I look forward to that challenge.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Arsene Wenger was watching your match today, I don't know if you know, and Zidane, Woody Harrelson. Did you get a chance to speak to any of them? How good do you think it is these guys coming out?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I saw Arsene and I saw Seedorf. I haven't seen Woody Harrelson and who else you mentioned.

Q. Zidane.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven't seen Zidane.

But of course, it's an honor to have these legends of football world coming to watch myself. And most of the tennis players, we are fans of football. Of course, we know them, we watch them, we watch the teams, nations, we watch all the competitions. So of course it is a great feeling when someone of their level of success and personality comes to watch us live. It gives you a bit more motivation, you know.

I saw Arsene at the beginning of the match. It positively affected me. I had even more motivation to perform well in front of them.

Q. Your former coach Boris Becker is in prison for three weeks now. What are your thoughts about him, about his situation, and what would you like to tell him if there would be the possibility to talk with him?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, it breaks my heart to, you know, see him go through this. I don't want to go into the process or what's fair, what's not, what was done.

You know, just as someone that is considering Boris really as a friend and family member, really, he was always so nice to me and my family, and we had a great relationship throughout the years, particularly when we worked for three years and achieved great things in this sport.

Even when we stopped working, our relationship kept going, you know, in a right way. I have been in touch with one of his sons, Noah, and asking if there is something that I could do, help, you know, just being there for his family members, you know, because I can't get to him.

But, you know, it's terrible. I don't know what to say. I mean, I'm just very sad that someone I know so well, and of course someone that is a legend of our sport is going through what he's going through. It's been only less than a month. We know how long he has to be there.

So I just hope that he will stay healthy and strong.

Q. A question about Bedene, your opponent. Started in Slovenia, then tried to represent Great Britain, had some difficulties with the ITF, making a full switch and then switched back. Curious of what you think of those rules. Do you think it should be more fluid that a player is able to change to a different country in their career. There's lots of different reasons people do it. Or if it should be less strict than he found it to be when he was unable to fully switch.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not sure of the exact details of his situation, but it's a good question. I don't really have a clear stance on that, because on one hand, you know, I like to see a player stay and play for his country obviously, but at the same time I can't judge somebody willing to move to another country, because, you know, there are different reasons and elements that affect that.

It's not only financial. It's family, lifestyle, it's God knows what. There is many, many different reasons. So if a player decides to do that, then of course he or she should have that opportunity.

Now, whether it's too strict or not, I'm not exactly sure what the rules are. I know that if you play Davis Cup or Fed Cup for your country, then it takes much, much longer to make that switch, whether it's four, five years, something like this, where you can actually play for that country national team, tennis.

So it's hard to say what is right, what is wrong. I was, myself, in this situation when I was 14. There were some talks with Great Britain, but, you know, I decided, along with my parents, to stay in Serbia, and I'm happy we collectively made that decision.

But there are many players and athletes around the world that are looking for better opportunities and conditions, and I can't judge that, absolutely. Everyone is individually trying to make the best life for them possible for their families, so I understand it.

Q. The refugees who were in the detention center with you in Melbourne have all been released in the last few weeks. Wonder what your thoughts were about that and whether you feel that your experience there had a lot to do with it, and also we have had a new government in Australia. Has that had any effect or will it have any effect on going back to Melbourne next year?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: All refugees, did all refugees leave the detention center?

Q. As I understand it, yes.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: If that's correct, then I'm obviously very happy about it, because I know that it was very difficult for them, particularly for the ones that stayed there for nine years. You know, I stayed there for a week, and I can't imagine how they felt for nine years.

They haven't done anything wrong, and they are asylum seekers and stayed for nine years. That's something I obviously did not understand why, but if I brought some light to that situation, then, you know, in a positive way for them, for this to happen, then of course I'm very happy, because they got another chance in different country.

I don't know whether some of them stayed in Australia or not, but I know that -- Ali? The guy who was, I communicated -- Ali, right? Yeah, I know he went to the United States. I saw that, saw his pictures. I was very happy that he's happy, that he's getting to live free.

We underestimate freedom. Until you actually live something like that and see what the circumstances are, then you don't really have an idea of what it feels like when somebody strips away the freedom from you.

In terms of the government, yes, I heard the news, but, I mean, I don't know anything about whether my visa is going to be reinstated or whether I'm going to be allowed to come back to Australia. I would like to. I would like to go there and play Australian Open.

I don't hold any grudges. Look, you know, it was what it was. If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career on Grand Slam, I would love to come back.

Let's see how it goes.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
120868-1-1063 2022-05-27 17:20:00 GMT

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