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An Interview With: Novak Djokovic

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Q. What do you make of where the match turned? Midway through the third I guess you pulled away and stayed there.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I thought I could win both of the first two sets before getting to tiebreak. I served at 4-2 first set, served at 3-2 up, 4-3-up I think in the second with break. But Andy is always putting in additional pressure on your serve. I dropped by 5, 10% of the first serves in percentage. He started going for his shots. First second shot he put a lot of pressure. I backed up, started makes unforced errors, and match turned around. You know, it was very physical. I'm happy that I managed to pull it through physically in the end and to kind of stay strong, even though it was frustrating in moments, because I don't think I played at a level that I wanted to play on in important moments. But, again, it's great to end it, because we always push each other to the limits and we push each others' service games. We step in on the second, and so that's what makes you go for your first serve. When you start missing, you get a little bit tight, a little bit passive, and that's what happened.

Q. There were moments in the second and third set where it looked like you were kind of shaking your head in disbelief with some of the shots that he was hitting and some of the pace that he was generating particularly, off the forehand. Have you been in a match where he's kind of sustained that level of kind of flat power hitting?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he started to go for his forehand more in last couple of years since he started working with Ivan, and that shot brought him two Grand Slams and gold medal. I mean, that was the shot he was working on the most. He made it his weapon. Yeah, quarterfinals of Grand Slam, playing each other and in such a close match, you're not gonna win it by staying back and getting balls back in the court. You are going to win it by pressuring your opponent, by hitting, you know, angles, by coming to the net. That's what he tried to do. Obviously he struggled a little bit with his lower back in the fourth. He didn't serve as accurately as he did in the first part of the match, so that gave me more possibilities kind of to step in.

Q. When he was struggling so badly in that fourth set, is it difficult for you to concentrate when someone cannot move as well as he was?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Well, it was difficult, because, you know, he hits a serve 125 miles and suddenly hits a 90, 95 mile first serve. So it was pretty unpredictable. It was not enough for me to just get the return back in play, because first shot he would just hit with a lot of pace. He didn't give me a lot of rhythm in the fourth. I thought I won my service games quite comfortably, but I wasn't managing to make the difference in his service games because he was just going for his shots and they were going in. And, you know, in the most important moment in 5-4 in the fourth he made a couple of errors. I stayed in the point, and that's what brought me a win.

Q. It was a highly emotional match, but was there a single moment where you could describe where you felt, Okay, I have control over this match now and now I'm going to win or was it a battle until the end?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it is always a battle. I mean, it's never finished even if you are break or double break up against Andy, because he's such a good returner and steps in. Sometimes he just goes for every shot that he has. So that is a high-risk game, but it can pay off. That's why, you know, I was trying to kind of be in the game and not think about the score, even if I was two sets to one up. But I felt, as I said when we started the interview, both sets I was kind of controlling, and then I let him come back to the match. For some reason I lost my serve twice in the second set. I thought if I would win the second set then, you know, it would be a significant mental difference. But still just glad to pull it through.

Q. As someone who has been through marathons almost double the length of this one, what are your thoughts on Caroline Wozniacki actually running in the New York Marathon?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I heard that from her a month, month and a half ago. We had dinner. We live in Monaco, same place, so we have dinner sometimes. She told me about it. I'm glad. I mean, she's doing it for a very noble cause. And also it's exciting. It's something very fun. Now, you know, obviously some critics were saying, you know, she's in the middle of her professional career. I don't know if that can influence her physically. But it's end of the season. I mean, she knows the best. She runs a lot. I see her always. I will take the car or a bike to the practice courts in Monaco and she would run. I would see her every morning running there and running back from the practice. So she does it a lot and she feels great doing it, so why not? I support her. It's a great cause. I'm sure she's going to enjoy it. I wish one day I'm going to do the same. Maybe not during my career, but, I don't know which city. Belgrade for sure I want to do with my brothers. Who knows? Maybe with my wife one day. But not for now.

Q. If you think back to the last time you played Andy in a Grand Slam it was Wimbledon final. If you compared yourself and Andy to then, what are the differences in terms of your level and what made the difference today in that regard?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, when I get to play Andy, at the Grand Slams especially, where we both try to peak with our performances obviously, I know that the matches are going to go the distance. We're going to have a lot of long rallies and a lot of exchanges. It's going to be physical but also mental. I get the feeling that if I get to stay with him and kind of, you know, work, work, and, you know, not get too loose and too frustrated with points and not allow him to get into a big lead, I feel like there is a point where I feel I have that edge, you know, maybe physically. That's where I try to always focus on and, you know, it paid off tonight.

Q. You have known him for a long time. When you see him kind of getting upset with himself and talking to himself, yelling at himself, do you notice that? Do you take that as a good sign or negative sign when you play him?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I get frustrated myself on the courts, everything. I mean, it's like you're getting to this zone of focus and fight. I mean, it's a battle on the court. We both go through a lot of emotions: times when you play well, when you encourage yourself, when you're positive. Sometimes you're a little bit negative about how you're doing, about how you're feeling. But it's all a process of the battle on the court and what you go through. It's important to handle this emotion, and everybody is different obviously in the way they handle it.

Q. With the junior tournament going on, when you have invited young players to train with you, is there something specific you look for in making those invitations? What have you gotten out of that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You're referring to younger players?

Q. Yes. What do you look for?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, I like to do that because I remember how much it meant to me when I was a junior and some top player has invited me to hit, you know, to practice. I mean, it's a big deal at that age. You know, you want to just share the court with some of the greats for half an hour to warm them up or maybe pick up some nice advice or just be next to them, sit next to them, listen to how they speak, what they play. For me, I remember that when I was kind of coming up and being a junior being a very valuable experience. I had hits with Roger, with Safin, with, you know, a lot of guys. I know how much it meant to me, so that's the motive behind inviting the junior players to hit with them.

Q. You're just off the court with Murray, but what do you think about facing Nishikori next?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I haven't played Kei in a while. He's very, very good player, obviously. I think he's playing best tennis of his life in the last 12 months. He started working with Michael Chang and he changed a few things in his game. He serves very efficiently. Obviously he's very, very fast, maybe one of the fastest on the tour player. Great backhand, great forehand, all-around player. He won today against Stan, who is playing some great tennis. To be able to come back after winning against Raonic 2:30 a.m., again five sets, five sets, it's pretty impressive. I give him credit for that. We both had some long matches in quarters, but I'm sure Uniqlo family will be happy to see us play against each other. You know, the better will win.

Q. You and Kei are supposed to play in Miami which didn't happen, so is that surprise for you to see him play physically this strong?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I know that he had the surgery on his foot before and that kept him away from the tour, from some tournaments. But he did struggle with injuries in last couple of years. I remember once he would just kind of make a breakthrough and start playing well he would get injured. That has been quite an obstacle for him, but so far he's been looking pretty fit in this tournament. I mean, back-to-back five sets is a great sign physically for him.

Q. Obviously you had your ups and downs before coming to this tournament. Are you at all surprised with the level you've been able to hit at this tournament? What's it mean for you to get back to the semis?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was aiming to play my best tennis in US Open, and I knew that's going to happen. I mean, I was believing it's going to happen, and I'm really glad that I'm in another semifinal here, you know, tough draws, some tough players that I played against. Of course as the tournament progresses I'm trying to gather together as much confidence as I can. Winning against Andy in a Grand Slam is definitely a confidence boost, and hopefully I can use it for next match.

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