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May 24, 2016

Radek Stepanek

Paris, France

A. MURRAY/R. Stepanek

3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously that must have been so difficult to lose after all that. In some way it looked like you were proud of the performance overall.
RADEK STEPANEK: You know, the first moment when you lose such a tough match like this one, you know, I mean, I was pretty close at 5-4 maybe to make an upset.

But that's tennis. I had a great shot at 30-All: backhand down the line. I felt like I hit pretty well. I hit the top of the net.

Then I had a chance at deuce playing dropshot. Whole match I played it down the line. First time I tried to play it crosscourt, and these are the small things which are making the difference in the end.

Yeah, overall incredible match. Tough battle. Can be proud of what a game I played, you know, pushing Andy to the corner. After what he's done on clay this year, it's definitely great also motivation for me for upcoming weeks.

You know, I gave it all. I have no regrets. Obviously being so close it's always tough to absorb, but to play on such a stage in front of such a crowd, it's been a pleasure. To feel that I'm pleasing them, it's a great feeling in the end.

Q. You had a big smile just after the match point. What was your real feeling the next seconds just after your defeat?
RADEK STEPANEK: I was hiding the sadness. Yeah, you know, once it's over, what you can do? Definitely the reaction inside of me was huge, but I would always rather smile than cry.

Yeah, as I said, it's tough to handle. We had a great battle in Madrid. Obviously Grand Slam tennis is something different, and I think everyone was involved in the match from the first point, even from yesterday.

You know, I got last night so many messages that I gave up my phone to my condition coach. I said I don't want to see it after the match is over, because nothing is over yet.

Yeah, I said I did everything I could, so there are no regrets from my side.

Q. You pushed Andy to the brink as the oldest player in the draw. There are as many players over 30 as ever here. What's your explanation for that?
RADEK STEPANEK: You know, the guy sitting next to you, he's from our country and he's throwing my age at me for the last seven years, since I got over 30. So we have a lot of discussion about that.

But, you know what I think is that these days we have so much more stuff available to recover and to prevent and to take care of our body. That's the biggest difference what I see from the generations. I've been here for quite sometime. (Smiling.)

So that's where I think the improvement in this part of the game is tremendous. Obviously these days you don't find one player which is not fit here. You know, everybody can hit big; everybody can practice five, six hours a day; everybody can do conditioning; everybody is more precise with food and diet and everything.

So the game is improving, and I think to your question why there is here the most players over 30, I think the things we can use for recovery are just tremendous.

Q. Yesterday after the third set, when you took your break, Andy was saying to the umpire he thought you were delaying intentionally. Did you want darkness to set in to get it suspended earlier?
RADEK STEPANEK: You know, I think my answer to that is it was better that I left the court. Trust me. Obviously he was losing. He had already a warning, so his nerves were on the way.

But, you know, I had to go. Trust me.

Q. You have been around for a few seasons. Do you remember when you first saw a young Andy Murray when he was very young? What was he like then? Why is he such a tough opponent? What makes him so tough to bring down?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think he was the same like he is now. You know, a lot of emotions, a lot of -- I don't know if it's pushing him or not. A lot of talks to his camp, not in a nice way always.

But we're individuals, and all of us are trying to do our best to win the match no matter what it takes. If John McEnroe was needing to argue with umpire all the time, somebody needs something else. He didn't change since I know him as a youngster, and he's not in that group anymore.

But, yeah, our personality doesn't change even over the years. You can saw that yesterday and today as well. What makes him good is that he think he's one of the fittest guys on the tour. Obviously he's working very hard, and his understanding of the game. He improved his game on all surfaces, especially on clay, as we're seeing this season.

You know, there were some great results from him here already in the past years. I think he came with incredible confidence here after Rome and Madrid. I was very close today to take it away from him and put it into my bag, but unfortunately didn't happen.

Q. What is your opinion about the state of his game today? Do you expect him to go...
RADEK STEPANEK: You know, honestly I expected him not going too far. (Laughter.)

No, just joking. Obviously I wanted to show him the stop sign, but you know how it is. I know it from my situations when I always survived a tough scare in the first rounds. Obviously in the tournament can go far, but there is 128, maybe more, little less. All these guys came here to give their best effort to put their hands on the trophy.

Obviously there are favorites here. It's Nole; Andy is one of them; Rafa obviously is playing great tennis again. Stan is a little bit in their shadow I think, but he will have a lot to say, I think. We'll see. Every year it's very interesting to see great battles here.

It's the toughest Grand Slam in the year. Takes a lot of juice from all of us. You know, it will be very interesting for everybody to see how it goes this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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