Novak Djokovic needed just 56 minutes to defeat Dusan Lajovic, 6-0, 6-1, in his first match at the Monte Carlo Masters. The world no. 13 picked his first win since the Australian Open, and in the press conference, he seemed to be delighted about it. 'I thought it was good considering the amount of matches I've played in the last almost 12 months, probably six, seven matches in total ever since Wimbledon last year. I personally feel, and I know that you can also see it from outside, that I'm lacking more of the match play. Obviously, practicing and playing practice sets is one thing. Playing an official match is completely something else, mentally mostly. Also, with injury and everything that was happening the last couple months, it wasn't that easy for me to cope with all of that. At the same time, it made me I think even more inspired to come back and try to play the way I played today.'
Analyzing his new co-operation with his long-time coach Marian Vajda, Djokovic added: 'It's a fresh start I think for both of us. I missed him. I have a feeling that he missed me or tennis or both (smiling). But we both enjoyed a lot the last 10 days of practice we had. He knows me better than any tennis coach I've worked with. He's a friend. He knows me inside out. He knows what I need in order to get to the highest possible level of play. We could not ask for a better start. We don't have any kind of long-term commitment with each other. We just want to see how it goes in this tournament. So far has been a lot of positive things and actually only positive emotions, every practice session, and today on the court. So hopefully we can keep going in the right direction.'
Then he analyzed his split with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek. 'We didn't have any commitment. We didn't have any contract. He was not, working with me officially. He was genuinely wanting to help and to give me advice and to share his experience with me,' Djokovic said about Agassi. 'The last eight, nine months with Andre was just amazing. The number of things that I've learned not just about tennis, but life in general. For that, I'm very grateful. I can call him any day, speak with him, ask him for tips, advice, you know, share something. That's always the case with Andre and with Radek, as well, although with Radek it was slightly different because we were talking about some long-term commitments. Radek was also ending his player career late in December. We didn't know whether he was going to be a coach, a player, or both. So before it has even started in a way, it has ended. Again, nothing personal, no bad feelings. We just split in a very normal way.'
Djokovic also explained why he underwent an elbow surgery in February and not in July 2017. He said that it could have been done earlier, but that wasn't what doctors had suggested to him. 'Generally, I don't like surgeries. I never had one,' he added. 'But it had to be done in the end, unfortunately when the season already started, so that was a tricky part. The intervention was done right, and I came back already after five weeks on the court from the moment I had the surgery. That's amazing. I still obviously wasn't ready game-wise, physically. So Indian Wells and Miami were really kind of a struggle on the court for me mentally. But today pain-free.'