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May 14, 2016

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy

N. DJOKOVIC/K. Nishikori

2-6, 6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was a crazy match tonight. Can you just talk about the foot incident maybe first and how you turned it around at the end?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, awkward situation. The first game, instead of cleaning my shoes, I hit myself pretty hard, ankle, and actually have a bruised bone which I have right now which was hurting for a while. Then the pain faded away but then returned towards the end of the match. Back and forth. I hope that tomorrow it's going to be fine.

But message to all the kids out there: Be aware, when you're cleaning your shoes (smiling), make sure the frame hits your shoe.

Yeah, very awkward. I don't think it ever happened that way. But considering the quality of the match, I thought it was phenomenal, really. I thought even better than my match against Rafa and the way he was striking the ball. He was making it very tough for me to do anything, really, from the baseline but to defend and wait for the opportunities. Maybe in some games when, you know, his balls are maybe a bit shorter in the rally, which started to happen at the beginning of second set, but first set was flawless, I mean, from his side. I couldn't do too much.

Third set, 4-1, couple break points to go up 5-1. Maybe some opportunities where I could have done better. But credit to Kei for fighting and playing big points like a top player, you know, with courage and aggressivity.

Yeah, I think I saw the stat. One point more on my said than Kei. And I think that says enough about the match and how even it was. If he would win the match, it wouldn't be undeserved, that's for sure.

Q. You have now had three really tough matches back to back to back. Andy came through in less than an hour today. How much of an advantage is that, if it is one, for him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's a quite different tournament from one part of the draw and the other part of the draw. But again, I mean, cannot take away anything from Andy's victories on the way to the finals.

Yes, he didn't maybe have, you know, tough opponents as maybe I have had, or top players. But again, you know, Goffin and these guys, they have been playing well. He was managing to win comfortably in straight sets against those guys.

He's definitely in form. We played a thrilling match in finals of Madrid. One week later we meet again.

I'm, you know, excited to go out and battle. You know, I don't have too much time to recover, but, you know, I have had these particular situations few times in my career, and I'll try to get the best out of it and get out on the court giving my all, as always.

Q. It was really entertaining and very close match. At the end of the day, what do you think divides winner and loser? It's mentality or just quirky of tennis or stamina or...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, one point. Today was 112 to 111 points won. So one point, really.

You know, on this level, I mean, this particular match is a great example of how the match can be decided, you know, in clutch moments and very few shots, very few points. Sometimes the luck can go your way; sometimes not.

But only thing you can do is influence your own capabilities on the court and your own focus and things that you can do best. And then, you know, it's in God's hands what's gonna happen. That's the way I approach it.

Of course, you know, I'm grateful and, you know, fortunate to win most of the big matches like this. You know, there is something to do with experience, as well, I guess, you know, and already having in memory these particular situations and sensations that you go through on the court and understanding what you have, you know, required from yourself in those moments.

But generally, it's just trying to be in the present moment. It's not a cliche. It really is like that. To be able to get into that state, you need to work a lot. Not just tennis-wise but mentally and give yourself an opportunity to play your best when it matters the most.

Again, that's my kind of approach and mindset. Obviously everybody is different.

Q. I think each match is different, but you beat him in Madrid, as well. What was the biggest difference between Nishikori today and Nishikori at the time? Because maybe attitude on important points?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was couple of things that were different. First of all, the conditions were quite different. All day was raining today, and the courts were very wet and not in a great condition.

It was very heavy, so the ball didn't bounce much. I thought that he liked that, you know, that the ball didn't bounce over his shoulder. He could swing through. He was very, very aggressive.

From the beginning, you know, he was showing that he knew what his game plan is, and he came out on the court with intent, hitting the ball along lines, cross-courts, both sides, being aggressive on the return. As I said, a flawless first set.

And then obviously I knew that I'm going to have a little opening where I'm supposed to step in and try to use that, which I did.

Then it was quite even all the way to the last point. I think Kei today was just more consistent from his groundstrokes. But he was aggressive, as always. You know, he loves to play fast.

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