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October 8, 2016

Grigor Dimitrov

Beijing, China


6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Rafa looked a bit of a shattered man when he came in here. Must have been a very good performance from you.
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I'm pretty happy with that win. I'm not going to lie. I've played Rafa quite a few times. So many times I think I was close or like I remember a couple times I was cramping. There was just always something happening.

Today I just think I played an excellent match. Simple as that. I mean, honestly, there's not much else to say except for sure I'm proud. A lot of the work is paying off.

But, yeah, there's a lot for me to go till the end of this year. I'm just going to focus on each match, each tournament, you know, stay humble and pretty much just play the game.

Q. How did you deal with the first five games, five consecutive breaks, and you could have won the set 6-Love?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I thought about that, you know what. I thought about that a little bit. I'm not playing a mediocre player here. I'm playing a man that I really respect, always look up to.

I use him even sometimes as an inspiration when I'm down in a match or something. He's one of the biggest fighters for me by far. Honestly, there's nothing else you can say about Rafa. He has proven himself so many times.

I mean, especially after the first break, break, break, I was like, What's going on here? In the same time, I felt I was returning pretty well.

I think he was pretty aggressive at some point on my serves, especially early on. He was reading my serve pretty well. Even though I was serving good, with a lot of speed, he was just there.

I think after that first set, things were shifting a little bit. I still had so many chances throughout the second set, quite a few games 15-40. He came up with the goods.

With him, you never know. Till the last point, you just have to fight. Even when I was like 40-15 up, I served a pretty good first serve, and he just whacked that winner down the line. I was like, Okay, I know it's not over, so I better make a first serve at 40-30.

Yeah, I guess that was enough today. I know it wasn't also one of his strongest matches for sure. In the same time, I want to credit myself also a little bit for what I did tonight. I put him in a lot of uncomfortable situations today throughout the whole match.

So I think every little detail adds up.

Q. Do you think you changed something tactically compared to the seven past times where he won? Were you more aggressive?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I mean, against certain players, I would say there's always maybe just a certain way you got to play. Against Rafa, he's never going to give it to you, so you got to go get it.

Absolutely, if you asked me if I changed a little something. Absolutely, I think I was a little more aggressive. I was trying to provoke for him to go for some of his favorite shots. In a way, I knew if he starts cracking a little bit, he's going to start doubt that shot and play exactly where I wanted. I think this is also what happened I think after the first breaks a little bit.

But overall I was just following my game plan pretty good. I mean, I was serving well, hitting my inside-out pretty good. I wasn't afraid to go to his forehand. This time I kept pretty good on my backhand side, as well. I was rallying with him quite a few points, which was good to feel. I felt like this time, Okay, there you go, finally.

Especially when you play that high looper against a one-hander, it's one of the toughest shots to hit off the bounce. I had to keep up fitness level, stepping in and not lose my baseline. There's just like little details that matter so much in a match like that today, and I was able to execute them I think almost excellent.

Q. Your season kind of went like that (indicating up and down). Was there one moment, one thought, that provoked you into upping your game again?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I wish I could answer that properly.

You know, I think overall the season hasn't been that bad, but I had bad results at some points, that's for sure. I think I was lacking in a lot of things on and off the court. There was a time that for sure I was not performing well, meaning I was not happy with myself, the way I was practicing, the way I was playing. There was a lot of things that in a way in my head I wanted to change, that I wanted to sort of construct differently. I think there was like a point to me that I said, Okay, well, it's just baby steps.

I think it's kind of hard for a player that has been there, meaning inside the top 10, and having to basically start grinding again. Knowing what I'm capable of, having to accept, basically I had to surrender myself back to tennis again all over again and get back to the basics.

I think it's been a great learning curve for me throughout I think the past year and a half, I would say. I wouldn't even say months, but year and a half. A lot of things made me realize that tennis is just a game that I love. I don't think I would feel the same if that wasn't going well in my life. You know what I mean?

There was just like kind of a lot of mixed emotions in my head, meaning, like, what would I do if I don't play tennis or if I practice even more. There were so many question marks in my head that at some point I'm sure every person goes through that kind of period in their life that you draw a line and you say, Okay, here we go, this is what I want, this is what I follow, this is what I stand by.

I created my own rules, my own world, my own people, my own friends. I think that period really helped me. In the same time, I'm pretty, like, happy and grateful right now that everything happened the way it happened for me.

But, you know, in tennis, you have every week. It's no matter to play one week good, two weeks good, it's a matter of keeping up that level throughout the whole season. I think if you stay healthy and you do the basics, I think everything is possible. No matter where you are, no matter what is your ranking, who you're with, who is your coach, what is your team, all that, I think that willingness...

Throughout those months, my composure helped me get through a lot of things. Of course, family and friends were there for me and made me realize also who is very real with me. Simple as that.

Q. What was the toughest part about playing Nadal today?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Playing Nadal itself is a pretty rough part. I think the toughest part is mentally, for sure. When you play against him, I think a lot of players can keep up with the game to a certain extent, but then you might get a little shaky, you might miss a few balls, all of a sudden he's back into the game.

There's a lot of obstacles throughout the whole match. Against him, you know that you got to fight pretty much every point. Yeah, I mean, I think that's pretty much it. At some point it becomes, like, a mental game, especially when you get out there and play against like a really good player.

I think that was it for me, to keep my focus and my game throughout the whole match. Of course, one of the most satisfying things for me, but in the same time was one of the most challenging things.

Q. Isn't this one of the biggest wins of your career actually?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: No, no, definitely not. I mean, for sure one of my biggest wins. But I had many other wins that meant more to me, for sure. Of course, beating Rafa has always been one of my goals, so to speak.

But as I said, again, if I want to be up there, if I want to get to the top, meaning not just to enter the top 10, but to aim even higher and possibly be No. 1 in the world, that means that I need to play against those players pretty much every single week and beat them on regular basis.

Right now I just want to look at it as just another match. Of course, I'm very happy and proud. Of course, I'm not going to hide that. But in the same time, I think right now I feel I can set my goals a little bit higher to what it is. Still I got to get out there, you know, semifinal match tomorrow, and possibly the day after. I just want to stay on track and focus on whatever is in front of me.

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