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May 30, 2015

Thanasi Kokkinakis


N. DJOKOVIC/T. Kokkinakis
6-4, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. How was the experience out there?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, great experience for me to play on such a nice court against No. 1 in the world and one of the greatest players of all time. Yeah, I wasn't too nervous going into the match. Felt like I served all right. I played all right. Just wasn't quite enough.

Q. What do you expect to take out of this match?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Just shows kind of where I need to get to. I don't think I need to change too much what I'm doing. I think I'm on a good path. I'm not happy that I didn't return great, I don't think. But he was hitting his spots really well on his serve and it made it tough for me. That was probably the one thing I was disappointed with today.

Q. What tournaments do you contest going into Wimbledon?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: I will definitely play Queen's, Nottingham I'm not sure, and I'm not sure if I'm going to play a challenger beforehand for some matches, because I didn't really play grass last year.

Q. Obviously you're moving forward to the grass court. How much is Lleyton going to be helping you out between now and Wimbledon and obviously playing there with him?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, it's going to be good. Obviously he's won Wimbledon before, and his game suits grass well. I'm going to look to get to London and train for him. Might take one or two days off and then get straight into it on the grass. I have a lot to learn on grass, but yeah, it's going to be good training with him.

Q. Have you thought about getting to the grass?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, I played a lot when I was real young, but the last few years I haven't played much on it. But, yeah, it's definitely different to out here, but I think if I can train right my game should suit it.

Q. Did you get out of this match with more confidence because it seems like your match is matching his game pretty well and you lost your serve like only once first set, which against Novak is also quite a performance?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, definitely. It shows that I'm not too far off. Yeah, again, I was just disappointed with how I returned a little bit, wasn't quite getting it deep enough. Couple balls I dropped a little bit too short. But off the ground rallying I felt fine. I couldn't quite string together points on his return games.

Q. What is the toughest against him?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: He just doesn't give you anything, any free points. He didn't serve a double fault. I saw the stats. Not one. The games I got broken I made a couple loose errors. He played a couple good points on them, but mostly I felt like it was me, probably maybe because he makes so many balls and puts pressure on you, I went for a couple stupid shots.

Q. About the preparation for Wimbledon, are you going back to Australia or somewhere before Wimbledon?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: No, it's too far for me to go. I'm going to hang in Europe and go to London the next couple of days.

Q. Do you find this Europe series, like the clay and the grass season, do you find this is tough for you because you have to travel a lot? You will be away from your home for more than a month.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah. Yeah, it's different. But it's something that I have gotten used to. Did my first overseas trip when I was I think 12 to Slovenia, as I said. It's, yeah, something I've got to get used to and it's part of the job, really.

Q. When you see Nick doing well at Wimbledon and at the Australian Open, Bernie coming back on, as well, what does that do for you? How much of a spurt on does that give you to keep matching it with them?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, definitely. It's motivation. But at the same time I want to do it my own way and not try and rival what they are doing. I want to kind of do better than them. Yeah, it was definitely tough last year watching Nick break through. I'm not going to lie. Because I was playing a challenger in Winnetka, I think, and I lost first round and he just beat Nadal. I was like, wow, what am I doing? I had a look at it and I worked hard to put myself in these positions to play greatest players on big courts. Yeah, I think I will be back playing some good tennis.

Q. Today Djokovic has got a break in each set. It was very close match. But you have been so close and yet so far away to him. What do you think could be the position next time? Did you learn something from this match and what makes difference playing against best in the world and others who are not?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, I think I gave away a couple too many free points. But, again, he makes you do that because he makes so many balls. He covers the court so well. He doesn't really play very high-risk tennis. He makes a lot of balls. For me as well to beat someone like that, you have to play winners or go for your shots and maybe I pressed a little bit too much. But as I get stronger and fitter, I won't have to go for as many winners against him. But again, yeah, my returning needed a bit of work today, but apart from that I thought I played not a bad match.

Q. What are you going to try to change next time?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: My returning. Get it in (smiling).

Q. There was the past, present and future with Fred and Novak and yourself. What did Novak say to you? What did Fred say to you?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: I was just trying to understand what Novak was talking about, because it was in French at the end, which was pretty impressive. I did French at school for seven years and I got no idea (laughter). That was good by him. Yeah, I was just trying to understand what he was saying, and he came up to me and that's what he said after, he just kin of explained what he said. Real nice of him. Obviously to be 50 years, I think. That's great effort from Fred. He's been really supportive of Australian tennis. I don't know him that well, but it's good to be on the court at the same time.

Q. Did Novak say anything to you specifically about the way you played or after the match?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: He just said, Keep working hard. Got a big future. A lot of talent. That's pretty much it. Yeah.

Q. Good to hear, obviously?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, yeah, for sure. But, you know, I just told him good luck for the rest of the tournament. And, yeah, that's pretty much it.

Q. Did you say something to him after the match?

Q. I just want to make sure, you couldn't play quarterfinal in Rome because of fire in the airport; is that true?

Q. How does it affect your preparation for French Open...
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: It actually helped me. I went to Bordeaux and won the challenger, my ranking improved. It was a good thing for me, not for the people in Rome, but for me. I was happy.

Q. Have you spotted any weakness in his game? He's No. 1 but he's still a human being.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: I mean, maybe he doesn't have a lot of firepower, but, I mean, you don't really need to if you don't miss and cover the court so well. He doesn't really need to hit huge shots. Again, his serve is not huge but obviously I didn't have a break point, so he isn't doing anything too wrong on the serve. There is no real weakness. I couldn't really spot anything. I was just trying to outhit him a little bit when I was playing him.
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