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November 19, 2015

Novak Djokovic

London, England, United Kingdom

N. DJOKOVIC/T. Berdych

6-3, 7-5

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did you feel like Tomas' level was raised a little bit?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, against me, certainly did. He found a way to play better, aggressive, more efficient and tactically smart. I think today we played two close sets.

We both could have done better. We didn't play on such a high level. We are aware of that.

But, again, we both had a long season and we tried our best. Best changes day-to-day. But I've played him so many times, I think the last couple months he raised his level and managed to play some better tennis.

Q. I don't know if you realize that Rafa now is changing a little bit, like if he wins the toss, he chooses to serve instead of return. You've played him three times this season. Since Beijing everybody is saying his level is raising. Can you actually see that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The first question, I didn't notice that.

Second, it's a fact that he's been playing better and he's been raising his level ever since US Open, I think. Already in China, playing finals in Beijing, semifinals in Shanghai, you can feel that he's starting to get comfortable on the court, start to play better.

The couple of matches, first couple of matches he played here against Wawrinka and Murray showed that, showed that he feels more confident, shows that he's starting to miss less, serve efficiently, use his forehand much better.

I know that, I've been watching. I know what is expecting me. We played so many times. I'm going to get ready for that one and hopefully I'll be able to play at my best.

Q. Tough question for you. Two days ago you were here. You gave Roger Federer credit for his win. Somehow in your answer you said that somehow you handed him the victory.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Me, I said that?

Q. You said something of the sort.

Q. The phrase was picked up from someone that asked Roger about it, and we had these headlines. How do you cope with this?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We can look at the transcript, go back. I'm 100% sure I didn't say that and I didn't say anything that can be taken out of the context, anything similar to that.

Whoever created that story, I don't know what to say. It's not fair. There is no need to create any kind of bad blood between Roger and me because I said what I needed to say, that he deserved to win that match, he was a better player. I said that I was disappointed with my level, but that has nothing to do with me handing the victory. This is ridiculous.

Q. My question is, how do you cope with it, with headlines that are erroneous?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Honestly, I didn't see that headline so I don't cope with it. I try to avoid the media as much as I can during the tournament because there is no reason for me to get in this midst of speculations that can cause some distraction to my concentration, which is very much valuable and needed.

I know that everybody drop of energy and focus needs to be there. I do watch matches, but I don't read papers, so forth, especially during the tournament.

Q. You will face Rafa. You have faced each other so many matches. They have always been tight. Roger just said in the press conference that he appreciate the rivalry with you, but he would pick Rafa because that rivalry has been longer, they have been facing each other longer than yours. Which one would you pick between Rafa and Roger?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First, you know, there is nothing to really feel facing or not facing. I'm going to face him on Saturday, so I will get ready for that.

I think everything has been said already. He's playing better tennis. The other hand, I played amazing first match. The last two matches haven't been on the level desired, but still managed to win two and lose one and I'm in semifinals. With the amount of wins I had this year, with the quality of tennis that I've played, I'm going to approach that match really optimistically as I always do.

Regarding the rivalries, with both of these guys, I have different and very unique rivalries, so it's hard to compare.

In terms of amount of matches played, maybe some matches that were long and epic was against Rafa. I played against him longer matches, more exciting matches. Grand Slam finals I think were more exciting with Roger, especially in the last couple of years.

So both of them. It's been amazing rivalries I had with both of them.

Q. About Rafa, he said the other day you play another league. Do you feel like that? Do you feel favored Saturday?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Who said that?

Q. Rafa. He said you play another league, different from him.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I thank him for the compliments. I take it as a compliment, obviously.

But I don't consider myself in another league. I'm competing with everybody else equally for this trophy as any other trophy. I think it wouldn't be fair for myself and it would be a little bit pretentious or arrogant if I say, Yes, I'm in another league. Of course I would never say that.

I'm just going to have the same approach as everybody else and try to win every match that I play on.

Q. We know you love Greece, you've been there many times. Would you like to say something to your fans in Athens and all over Greece?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You're right, I do love Greece. Serbians feel a special connection throughout the history and culture. Our people were very close.

Last couple of years I've been there more than few times with my family. When I was younger I remember maybe each year, each two years we went for summer holidays, beautiful islands. Athens as well. Last year was the first time.

Yeah, I mean, this country has given so much to civilization if you think about it: philosophy, politics. It's a very intellectual nation. You can feel its charm and history every step of the way.

There is a lot to see. People are very emotional, temperament similar to us. Yeah, I hope that I'll have a chance to play in Greece actually once, if not a tournament then an exhibition event or something like that. I'm very much looking forward to that. I heard that tennis is popular in Greece, it's watched. So I hope I can experience that.

Q. Your record against Berdych is quite one-sided, 21-2. Some of the matches like tonight haven't been one-sided at all. Is there anything about his game or style that suits you particularly well or do you have a mental edge in the key moments maybe?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I know his game relies a lot on the serve, as well. If he doesn't have a high first-serve percentage I'm able to step in and take advantage of the second serve, then he starts losing a little bit of confidence in his game.

If he's serving on a high level, he can really be a threat for anybody on any surface. I know that because I've had many close matches with him. Because I've won I think so many times against him, maybe there is this factor of mental edge, maybe advantage in important moments, decisive moments where I'm able to stick around and stay tough and believe that I can actually win.

I'm not saying he's not believing. It's just that maybe that record also plays a decisive role in some moments when we play against each other.

Q. We tend to look back at this tournament. Can you tell me what the most weird, wonderful, bizarre moment in tennis has been over the last year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There were some great experiences. Obviously a lot of highlights, considering the fact that I've had the best year of my life on the court.

I had some tough moments. Obviously wins in Wimbledon and US Open stand out as the most positive moments of joy and thrill, and the loss in French Open final is probably the most disappointing one of the season.

It's been a long year. It's hard to say or point out what really happened outside of the court that was a little bit bizarre. Lots of bizarre things happen in the locker room, trust me. It's a good thing you don't have a camera there so you can see what's going on.

Life on the tour is something I choose to do and I enjoy. Obviously I see these guys more than I see sometimes my own parents. But I have a very good relationship. I'm proud to say that I have a very good relationship with all of them basically. There's always a mutual respect. I think it's a pleasure to be part of such a group of tennis players that share the good life values and represent themselves in a good way.

I'm just glad to be part of this era.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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