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May 14, 2016

Andy Murray

Rome, Italy

A. MURRAY/L. Pouille

6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. The ATP have just kind of put out some stats saying your improvement on clay has been pretty dramatic the last two years. You have reached four finals. What was the turning point, do you think, up till then?
ANDY MURRAY: I think it was a lot that happened in a few really tough days, actually. End of the Munich event last year and the first run that I played in Madrid, really. You know, winning my first title on clay gave me a lot of confidence. That match could have gone either way.

You know, it was a very close final, Kohlschreiber, and then arrived on the Monday, played Kohlschreiber. I think -- I know we walked on court after 1:00 in the morning in Madrid. Came through a really tough match there. And that was really important, because I kept my momentum going there and managed to end up winning the tournament in Madrid, beating Nishikori, Raonic, and Rafa. And I never had beaten players of that ranking that consistently on a clay court before.

I gained a lot from those few days that were difficult. So it was a good experience for me. Sometimes when you are having those frustrating days where it's raining, and, you know, you don't know what's going to happen, when you're going to get on, if you can get through them, it can give good rewards.

Q. Given the weather here today, you must be pretty pleased to be off court now, having won through to the final.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. We obviously didn't know whether we were going to get on today. It was obviously tricky for both of us. I was saying maybe for the first time in my career - I've played over 700 matches - where I have actually gone on the court without actually getting to hit a ball, you know, before the match started.

So that was tricky. Yeah, the schedule changed quickly. You know, we were sort of sitting, having lunch, walked back over and, you know, were told the schedule's going to be moved, you're going to be the first match on. As soon as it stops raining, you're out there.

I had like 45 minutes to get ready. And, yeah, obviously glad we got on and got the match done. But, yeah, it wasn't looking great earlier in the day.

Q. Does that explain why you went straight to get practice after the match today?
ANDY MURRAY: It was more just because the match was very quick and stop/started a little bit, didn't get to hit loads of balls in the match. There wasn't many long rallies. I think I made a few more mistakes than usual.

But like I said, it's not easy, first semifinal of a Masters Series and not getting to hit any balls, he didn't play a match yesterday either. So, yeah, I just went out and hit a few balls for 20 minutes and came back in.

Q. Could you please tell us what is the difference for you to play a guy like Djokovic technically or a guy like Nishikori? Of course they play differently, but how do you prepare that match mentally and psychologically and tactically differently with the two players?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I think, you know, they do a lot of things the same. You know, both of them have excellent backhands. Both obviously play predominantly from the baseline. Very, very good returners. You know, so it's not like, from a tactical standpoint, it's not that different, you know, but obviously, you know, I have had a better record against Kei than I have against Novak over the last few years.

So, you know, I have to look at the matches I have played against Novak to see the things that I could do differently there, whereas against Kei I look at the things that have worked well and try to continue doing that.

Q. If we imagine for a moment that Novak wins tonight, obviously you'd be playing for a title tomorrow, but is it also good to play him as often as possible, given that he's kind of setting the pace on the tour at the moment, just to kind of be up to speed with what the tour can offer?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, any time you play the best players, it's great. The French Open starts a week from tomorrow. You know, you don't really get much better preparation for, you know, a major event than that, playing against the best players in the world a week out.

And, yeah. Obviously every time it's a big challenge, but I do think that regardless of tomorrow, my preparation has gone extremely well for the French. But I'd love to win tomorrow's final and try and get another Masters title on the clay and my first final here. You know, I'm really happy about that. And, yeah, hope I can get one.

Q. Is your first final in Rome. Any special reason not join before in the past and the previous editions?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, one year I served for the match in the semifinal. I was very close. Didn't quite happen. You know, some of the years I didn't play so well. Some years I did play well, but it didn't quite happen for me.

You know, one of the years I was having problems with my back, too, which forced me to pull out of the French Open.

But now I feel much better on the surface. My back has been really good, and that's helped my results, as well.

Q. It's your birthday tomorrow. Good time to take stock. Obviously a lot has happened to you domestically in the last year with the baby. Where would you say your game is this year compared to 12 months ago?
ANDY MURRAY: I think I'm in a better place. I think I have made some improvements in my game. You know, last year I was winning a lot of matches at this time of year, but I do think I'm playing better tennis this year. I think my serve has been a big improvement for me.

That's why, you know, matches like today, you know, Lucas had no opportunities on my serve. You know, I had a few matches like that over the last few weeks, and that hasn't always been the case.

So, you know, to get like a win in the semifinals of a Masters Series losing five points on your serve is the first time that's happened in my career, and that's been the most pleasing thing for me.

Q. Last year Djokovic was almost unbeatable, at least he looked unbeatable most of the times. This year he hasn't lost many times. He's lost only just a few. But the general feeling is that he is not playing as well as last year or has not the same confidence. Do you agree on that or do you think it's just speculation, journalistic or whatever, or he looks less strong?
ANDY MURRAY: I don't know, to be honest. I saw a little bit of yesterday's match. I think it was a very, very good level, for sure.

But I think Novak has played extremely well this year. You know, maybe not all of the matches he's played perfect, but he's winning and that is a sign of someone that's very confident.

So, you know, it's really impossible to say. When he's played the big matches at the end of tournaments he's improved his game. Maybe the start of some of the tournaments he's not, start of the tournament fantastic, but he's finished most of them very well.

Q. Have you played any finals on your birthday before? And are you expecting any presents or cakes or such things?
ANDY MURRAY: I haven't won many matches on my birthday before, to be honest. I have lost -- I don't remember winning any matches, really, on my birthday which isn't a great sign (laughter).

Yeah, it's worth checking, but I don't remember winning many matches on my birthday, so hopefully tomorrow that will change.

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