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June 3, 2015

Novak Djokovic


7‑5, 6‑3, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions in English.

Q.  I guess you went through many emotions through this match that you have dominated from start to finish.  Can you walk us through what you felt game‑wise, emotion‑wise?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It's already before the match started.  You go through more emotions than for any other match.  Of course, playing against Rafa in Roland Garros, it's a special thing.  It's a special match.
It's how you prepare for it.  You prepare for this match in the best possible way tactically, mentally, and to get out there and execute your plan.
Obviously it's easier said than done when you're on the court with him and on the court that he has only lost once in his entire career.  It's not easy to sometimes execute the plan that you prepared before the match.
But I managed to do that.  Had a very strong start.  Except, the second part of the first set and first part of the second, the entire match went really well for me.  It's definitely a big win, a match that I will remember for a long time.

Q.  Did you surprise with result, like three sets?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I was hoping the result can be three sets for me, but when I was 5‑1‑up I didn't want to, you know, relax or think that the win is very near.
Nadal can easily get back in the match.  That's what he showed 4‑Love to 5‑All in the first set.  Yeah, all the way through I played very strong, very solid.  Didn't give him much space to dominate the rallies.
I was trying to be the one that is going to take the advantage and first shot to the open court, and everything went well.

Q.  How much confidence do you take from this win today into your next match?  How much, if at all, would it loom in the back of your mind that you have overcome this hurdle that you've tried to for so many years and now wanting to follow that up?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, obviously an ideal scenario is today could have been finals and could have a different discussion.  But right now I'm aware that this is a big win, which I will enjoy tonight.
But tomorrow is a new day and I have to move on.  It's only quarterfinals, and I want to fight for the title.  That's what I came here for.  I have to kind of direct my thoughts to the semis.

Q.  You know, journalists are bad boys.  They asked you, What happened when you lost those four games?  What were you thinking in that moment?  What went through your mind?  You say, Oh, I'm in trouble even if this is not probably the best Nadal, and I am stronger than him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I mean, you go through ups and downs in the match.  It's normal, especially against Rafa.  I have had four perfect games at the start, and, you know, 30‑All he made a passing shot, really amazing passing shot; 4‑Love played a couple of good games and I made some unforced errors.  That's.  He was back in the match.
5‑4 I had many set points; 6‑5 again.  I thought I deserved to win the first set.  After I won it I felt a huge relief, and it was easier to play one set up than a set down, of course.
But, you know, when you're playing against Rafa you always expect one ball back more than any other player can give you back on the clay court.  That's why it's not easy sometimes to keep on playing on that level and keep on making winners all the time.
Sometimes you make mistakes, but it's important to get out of those crisis times as soon as possible.

Q.  I don't know if you've realized, but the last three times you have played Rafa here the match ended in a double fault.  How strange is that?  Why is it happening like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, yeah, I can't really say why is that the case, but some reason it happens.  I finished double fault twice against him here.
Today I guess in the tough moments you get a little tight and that's what happens.

Q.  What was the key factor in your opinion?  Was it mentally here to climb the mountain, fighting against history, or tactically knowing that you're dominating with your forehand much more than he did, which is normally his weapon?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, my plan was to focus on things that I can influence, that I can do well, and that is my game plan, my mindset, my approach.
I didn't want to give him too much comfort and opportunities where he can dictate the play.  So that was more or less about it.  I mean, I tried to mix up the pace, get into the net.  Dropshots, high balls, fast balls, you know, always something different.
Obviously he didn't serve that well, especially in the second and third set.  He made some unforced errors that are not characteristic for him maybe from the forehand side.  But that's, you know, what happens when you don't feel comfortable on the court.
I think because I play fast to his forehand and, you know, moved him around the court, he was a bit uncomfortable in his footing.  That's where I want him.

Q.  It's officially Murray next.  He won.  He's undefeated on clay this year.  You're undefeated on clay this year.  Can you talk about him, the match, and also about what he's improved?  You haven't played him on clay this year, but what he's done to make that improvement on clay this year.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, he has improved on clay, no doubt about it.  I watched him a little bit in Madrid, and Rome, as well, where he retired his match.  He didn't play there in the last 16.
Here he's been playing some really good tennis.  He's moving better, serving very well, and he always had a touch, one of the best groundstrokes in the game for, you know, last ten years since he's been really playing.
He's extremely talented.  He's also a great fighter and somebody that has a lot of experience playing in big matches.
The furthest he got in Roland Garros was semifinals, and I think he played last year semis against Rafa, so I'm sure that he's very motivated to get at least one step further.
Semifinals of Grand Slam, playing one of the biggest rivals and the guy I have known for a long time, and I'm sure both of us will get on the court with the intention of winning.
I know his game.  I'm going to try to prepare myself well.

Q.  At some point in the match today, you seemed, it seemed, you weren't happy with the condition of the court.  Can you explain what was going on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  No, I wasn't happy with the decision not to water the court after first set.  I thought it keeps on happening every year.  I'm asking same thing.  Chair umpire says, It's a decision from the groundspeople, and groundspeople say it's the decision of chair umpire.  So we go back and forth.  I really don't understand.
So, yeah, I just think at least after the set in conditions where you play in the sun and it gets dry, and after an hour and 15 minutes duration of the first set, I think it's logical to expect that you want some water on the court.
Midway in the second set we had ‑‑ both of us slipped a few times, and so I just don't understand why they don't, you know, consider the opinion of the players who are actually on the court playing.
I respect the groundspeople that they take care of the court entire year, but I still am not clear who is making the final decision.  I hope I'm going to have the answer before the end of the week.

Q.  At the press conference of Nadal today, he said you're in the best state of your career.  How do you think of that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I probably am.  Everything coming together in my life and experiencing probably the pinnacle of my career, of my life, complete person, very satisfied on and off the court, and I think it all influences the results in my performance.

Q.  Wondered if you could reflect on what you think this means for Nadal and if this a match that might be a crossroads in his career.  You know, you have played him more than anyone else.  What are your thoughts on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I think that's something that we are going to see.  I mean, how he's going to reflect on what has happened this year on the clay courts, which was below his standard and something that is expected from him considering all the results he had in last ten years.
But in the end of the day, he's human, as well, and it's normal to have some seasons like that.  I understand that people are questioning now his game and, you know, where he's going to be.  But if you need a reminder of who he is, you just look at his career stats and Grand Slams that he won.
I think that says enough about his quality as a player and as a champion.  He's somebody that understands what he needs to do when he's feeling down to come back and fight to be the best.
That's what he has done after nine months of absence from the tour and he came back, had one of the best years of his life in 2013, if I'm not wrong.
So I don't think that this is a big deal still.  I think he is 29 and still has years in front of him, and I'm sure he's going to bounce back and play very strong.

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