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May 10, 2017
F. LOPEZ/G. Simon
6-3, 3-6, 7-6
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish, please.
Q. Gilles forced you to the limit. Can you talk about the match.
FELICIANO LOPEZ: Well, I did what I could. I think that Gilles is a very tough player. He returns every single ball. He has a lot of abilities. He defends really well. I knew if I played from the baseline the whole match, I wouldn't win.
I tried to go up to the net, change the rhythm of the game a couple times, try to play short games. I needed my serve to do that. My serve was working. It was an even match.
I think at the beginning I had it under control. Then in the second set, the match completely changed. It was much more even. It's true that in the third set, I managed to save a lot of set points. Then we made it to the tiebreak.
I think it was a complicated match. I think I won four points in a row in the third set, then two points with my serve. I was 6-3 up in the tiebreak.
This year I'm quite happy because now I'm feeling much better. I had a couple back problems at the beginning of the year, but I'm happy after my performance today.
Q. Today you hit 14 aces, 76% of first serves. Do you think that's a solid base to play Djokovic tomorrow?
FELICIANO LOPEZ: Always against Djokovic you need more than with other players. It's obvious tomorrow I need to serve pretty well. That's my main weapon to be able to beat Novak tomorrow on the court. I have to take advantage, try not to play long rallies, because Novak is better than me when we play long rallies.
I think I have to play an intelligent game, work out my tactics. It's obvious that my serve is working. The other day with Escobedo, it worked. My percentages were high. I think also today against Simon, my serve worked. Tomorrow I will need it again because I have to play Novak with my strong serve to be able to beat him.
Q. Has your game changed since the first time you played here in Madrid? Did you feel the support of the crowd since your first match here in 2002?
FELICIANO LOPEZ: I can't even remember that match since 2002. It's been a lot of years since then.
I think my game has evolved a lot. I think that I'm a more complete player. Overall I am better. I think I read the game better. Due to the amount of years I've been playing, I know myself better, and I also know the opponents.
I think I play more intelligently. When you're a little bit younger, you are more cheeky. You don't think about so much, and you're more brave in some moments. That's the advantage of being young.
When I had the wild card in 2002, for me it was a dream come true. I was living the dream. Then I made it to the third round against one of my idols, and I nearly beat him that time. That week was a dream.
Since the beginning till the match I lost against Agassi, I finally lost, but I could have beat him. It was a great moment in my career. I realized I could play well, compete against the best player on tour.
Since then until today, many things have happened. I think that my game is a little bit more aggressive than it was at that moment. The tournament, it has changed a lot. We went from playing indoor to playing on clay court.
But, I think since we played the tournament on clay, I think I have been playing better, and I have very good memories of all the years that I played here in Madrid.
Q. Looking forward to tomorrow's match against Djokovic, normally he has beaten you. Today we saw Novak a little bit more vulnerable. Do you think tomorrow will be a good moment to change the statistics?
FELICIANO LOPEZ: Well, it's obvious tomorrow I'm going to play one of the best players in history. It's obvious that he's not in the best moment of his career. We can see that by his results.
But I think that it's normal that any player has ups and downs. I think that players like Novak, during three or four years, he made us think he was not human, that he was unbeatable, that he could win every single match he played.
We have come to a moment now, as any other player, he has ups and downs, that he doesn't win everything. Now we start talking about things which I think are nonsense.
At the end of the day it's very difficult to be up there all the time, winning every single match. The pressure of having to win every single match, it's not easy.
There's a pressure on Novak that he has to win every single match. I don't think that's an easy thing. All the players have ups and downs. Normally players at the highest levels have few bad moments. If I talk about Novak's game, I haven't seen him playing bad. I saw today's match. I think he played very well. He had ups and downs during the game, but I think overall he played quite well.
Maybe he needs a little bit more confidence. Like me. We all need confidence. But tomorrow's match against Novak I think is going to be tough. I think the fact that he hasn't won so many matches this year is not going to affect tomorrow's match. I think he's still playing at a very high level and he's going to be very competitive during the next weeks.
Q. I remember the last game against Federer you played. Do you remember that match?
FELICIANO LOPEZ: Yes, that was the first year.
Q. You have played Djokovic in a couple of finals. In New York you played Novak, too.
FELICIANO LOPEZ: Yes, I think New York was the best match against Novak. I think in Belgrade I also had chances during the first set. I was quite close. I think that was one of my best moments. I think that year I played really well. In the US Open I beat Fognini in three sets. I also beat Raonic in three sets. I was playing really well that year.
With Novak, you know, in the best year of Novak, I nearly beat him. I think it was a great match. But tomorrow's match is going to be completely different. The conditions are going to be very different.
For me these moments are like a gift. These matches are a gift. It's a pleasure for me to be able to play against one of the best players in front of my people, in my hometown. That's why I play, why I do this, because I like to play against the best players in the world.
Tomorrow is going to be a great match. Of course Novak is the favorite player tomorrow. I'm going to try to be aggressive, play my tennis, and let's see what the outcome is.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports