Novak Djokovic speaks to the media after the 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(2) win against Ernests Gulbis
Q. Going into the second week, who do you think is favorite to win this title?NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know. Honestly, I'm not thinking about it.
Q. Relatively comfortable win. You'll be aware there's a lot of discussion about the courts here. How did you find the surface today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the first two matches I didn't see any significant difference. But I was hearing a lot of comments from the other players. They were complaining. Especially on the outside courts.
But today I could see there is a difference in grass, in turf itself. It was a bit softer, I would say, especially around couple feet inside and outside, around the baseline area.
I haven't had that kind of experience before in Wimbledon, to be honest. I mean, the courts are always perfect here. Obviously grass is very demanding surface for maintenance. So obviously different weather conditions can affect the quality of the grass, I would assume. I'm not really to the full extent familiar with all the steps that are necessary for preparation and maintenance of the grass during the tournament.
But the more you play on it, the worse it is, obviously. You don't have as much grass already now end of the first week. But I'm sure that the groundsmen will try to do everything possible to make it, you know, playable for the athletes as much as they can in the second week. Obviously now there is not much you can do.
I'm sure they know what they're doing. They know their job the best in the world. But you can see that there is a slight difference in the quality of the grass. This year seems like it's a bit softer.
Q. Did you ever feel unsafe? Did you feel that your footing was giving away on the grass?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I haven't. I haven't had that kind of feeling. It was more the bounces, the bad bounces, around the area of baseline which I was explaining, you know, couple feet inside. That's where there was a lot of, you know, small different holes. I guess the grass is not in there any more. That was obvious.
It just felt a little bit different. But I didn't feel in danger in terms of movement.
Q. It was interesting listening to the BBC commentary because they had Boris talking about you. He said when he heard you shouting in triumph when you won some big points, he said he really feels that your passion is back. Is he reading you right there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he felt it firsthand for a couple of years. We've been through ups and downs, both of us. Boris knows me very well. So he's right when he says that the passion is back. I've been feeling better on the court, you know, as I said in the last couple of months. But especially on the grass court this season so far, every match that I've played, I felt very comfortable.
Obviously when you're playing well, then you're feeling well, then you're even more, I guess, motivated, passionate to see how far it can take you.
Q. You're playing Mannarino next. How do you see that match going?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's going to be a different matchup. Ernests Gulbis is someone that is very unpredictable and has a huge serve, with that kind of game, very powerful, fast game from back of the court. It's not easy to play against him on this surface. I'm really pleased that I managed to win in straight sets against him, especially in the third set where he started serving better, higher percentage of first serves. He kind of gave it a last shot. I thought he played a good quality tennis.
But I managed to hang on with him and play a very good tiebreak.
I think that only can boost my confidence level for whatever is coming up next. Mannarino beat Monfils. Played finals in Turkey. He's in a good form. I am, too. Hopefully I'll be able to, you know, continue playing this well consistently.
As I said, is going to be different matchup. He's lefty. He has a good slice serve. Just very tricky game. I think his game is very, very suitable for this kind of surface. Plays very flat, very low. Just moves around the court, anticipates well.
You got to give him credit. He beat Monfils, couple good players, reached the fourth round. The matches are only going to get tougher as the tournament progresses.
Q. It's only a week, but how is your new team so far? How is the chemistry with Andre and Ancic?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: So far it's fantastic. I mean, not just this tournament, but also in Paris. We spent a lot of quality time together on and off the court.
But it's a bit different now in Wimbledon because both Mario and Andre are staying with me as far as I go in the tournament, where Andre in Paris had to leave earlier.
I'm glad to have them both. I think they contribute in their own way to my game. But most of all, there is great chemistry, great synergy, great understanding, respect for each other.
Mario has been my friend for very long time. I feel very relaxed next to him. And Andre, as well, is someone that has a personality that is very, very friendly, very kind, and at the same time very committed and professional.
It didn't take us too much to really connect. Everything so far is working great.
Q. Paradoxes and contradictions are some of the more interesting parts of life. You're on this journey that's exploring different aspects of life, very subtle, inward, quiet. Yet tennis is such a war, a battle, winner, loser, boxing without the violence. How do the two aspects of your life impact each other? Does your journey in any way diminish your ferocity, your fight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think so. It doesn't reflect only in tennis. Anything in life that you do, I mean, who you are as a person, me, you, everyone here, has to have both sides balanced. It's the yin and yang. We all know that.
If you kind of in a way lean towards one side or another, you would lose that balance, which is necessary for an optimal state of mind, where you're happy, where you're pleased, where you have that joy in life, you're satisfied with what you do, successful in a way, as well.
It always has been a very integral part of my life to be able to balance those two sides. As you said, going out on the court, it is a battle. It is a one-on-one battle, without contact thankfully. But it still is a battlefield where you are, you know, facing, first of all, yourself, then the opponent in a lot of different aspects and things around.
It's a great opportunity, every single time you step on the court, to grow, to learn something more about yourself. I felt like in the last couple of years, I've managed to be conscious about it and learn about myself intrinsically so I can grow and be better and grow all the character features that I have, my strengths, and my flaws and kind of confront them. You're going to confront them the most where you're most, I guess, vulnerable in a way, which is tennis court.
But, you know, generally in life, it's important to have the right amount of I guess adrenaline and things that make you happy. We as professional athletes, most of the guys are very dynamic, have active personalities, lifestyles. It's important to kind of balance that out, have kind of downtime, peaceful time, otherwise you're going to burn out.
Q. You just described battles. On Monday at Wimbledon, unlike any other major, the men and the women, the surviving 16, will all be battling to be in the quarterfinals. How would you describe that day?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's unlike other Grand Slams. Wimbledon is very unique because it's not played on middle Sunday. So Monday is a big day for all the players, both men and women. More so for tournament and fans. It's one of the days where you can get probably most quality matches, both singles and doubles, men and women, that you can have throughout the entire tournament.
Concentration of both sides of the draw is on that day. Yeah, it always is interesting for a fan to watch and to be part of that day.
Q. What do you think of the nickname Manic Monday?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Manic? I don't know what 'manic' means.
Q. Kind of crazy.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure (smiling).
Q. You were talking about balance, philosophy. Do you spend a lot of time reading about philosophy, spirituality?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, not only about that. I like to read.
Q. Some examples to share with us.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, right now I'm reading a book about how to be the best parent I can be. I'm learning, trying to get firsthand experiences from the parents, my own parents, whoever has a child. But also to read I think is nice. As I said, try to be the best father I can be, the best husband I can be. Right now that's where my interest is.
But I like to have many different books with me on the road, so then I can pick in whatever mood I am on that given day.
Q. You spend a lot of time reading?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. On certain days, yes. Certain days, maybe not, less. I like to watch, as well. Depends.
Q. Speaking of being in a one-on-one battle on the court, the US Open are going to do this thing in qualifying where you can talk to your coach in the stands.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I've heard about that.
Q. What do you think about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm not 100% certain whether it's when the player is on the side where the coach is.
Q. When you're on the same side as the coach, you can talk. When you're on the far side, you can only sign language.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh. I knew about discussions about, you know, kind of trying it out when you're a coach, your player is on your side, you can communicate. But it has to be within acceptable time, so to say, limit because the rules, the server is dictating the time between the points.
It's on chair umpire basically to judge whether it's too long or too short. But they said around seven to ten seconds is somewhere an average which is acceptable to have between the points. It's the time where a coach can interact, communicate with his player.
I even heard that in Milano, for the Next Gen finals, I'm not sure if the information is correct yet, but they want to try out with the headsets. I think that's a cool idea, to be honest.
Q. You like the headsets better?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Both are fine. The far end, signalizing different symbols is a little bit -- I have to think about that. But when you have your player on your side, it's fine. Of course, when it's within that time limit, respect towards the other player, the rhythm of the server.
The headset also I think is fine. This is kind of an intimate conversation where you feel comfortable that you communicate wirelessly with your coach who is there. I think it is also a good idea for the commercial part. Obviously there's a lot of headset companies that would probably include their budget into tennis, which is always great.
But I don't know. They've said that the TV audience possibly could hear what you were speaking with your player. Still have to be a bit careful.
When the WTA introduced on-court coaching, many ATP players were not really positive about it. I thought it was a good move for the sport. Certainly in certain situations you can disrupt the opponent, yes, no. But in general, I think, if you have a coach, why not try to use him during the match itself? I mean, we're probably one of the only, maybe only global sport that doesn't use coaching during the play. Even golf, individual sport, you have caddies that you communicate with throughout the entire course. So why not here as well?
I just think, you know, it is important to figure out the way what works the best.
Q. You were just talking five minutes ago about how Mario has long been a friend of yours.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. I'm trying to work out what the actual relative roles are. Also, did you have any problem convincing Mario to come? We all know he's a high-powered lawyer on Wall Street.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The Wolf of Wall Street (smiling).
As I was saying before, we don't have anything formal. We don't have any contracts. We don't have any long-term agreements.
It was a friendly talk between Mario and I. First of all, I spoke to Andre. Andre absolutely agreed with Mario being that second person who might potentially be spending a little bit more time with me on the road.
Ever since Mario ended his career, he went a different direction, went into the financial world. He's very successful. He's very smart. He was one of the very few players and athletes, as a matter of fact, that have been successful and during their active career studied, as well, studied law, which is not an easy thing to study. So I always had that admiration, respect for him, but mostly that friendship that we carried on even after his career ended. We were always in touch, seen each other while I was in New York.
We had a friendly talk. He was a bit surprised. He wasn't expecting that. But he was already prescheduled to be in London. I asked him if he would like to spend a time with Andre and I during Wimbledon, while you're there, if you have time. He was, anyway, planning to be a part, which he will, I think next week, of the Legends tournament doubles.
So he accepted. That's all we have for the moment. There is no really long-term agreements or planning, what's going to happen. Obviously he's got his commitments with his companies.
We'll see how the schedule is going to look like after Wimbledon. Maybe some US Open Series tournaments that he could maybe potentially come for a week or two. Depends also on Andre's schedule.
We all agree we're going to talk about that when Wimbledon is done.