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May 20, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy


6-1, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. In the end, this may be the best performance of this year? Or not?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, undoubtedly the best performance of this year and maybe even longer. Yeah, I mean, what can I say? I'm overjoyed and happy with every minute that I spent on the court today, even with Del Potro and also now with Thiem. It was a perfect match. Everything that I intended to do, I have done it and even more.

So there's not much to say except that I am so grateful to experience something like this, because I have been waiting for it and working for it for a long time.

Q. Dominic just said he doesn't like to play against you because he feels your game style doesn't suit his own. Do you feel he is a good matchup for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, last couple of matches we played against each other on clay, Roland Garros semifinal last year, something similar happened. You know, I haven't played as well as I played tonight, but I played very well, I remember, that match and took away the time from him.

So I think, I mean, obviously if you play someone that plays so good from back of the court like Dominic, you need to get him out of that comfort zone. You need to change the length, pace, everything, just put a lot of variety in the game.

Sometimes it's easier said than done, because he's got a very powerful game from, you know, from his serve, a lot of power, a lot of rotation, a lot of spin. It's not as easy to really find too many holes in his game, you know.

But, yeah, I managed tonight to, I guess from the very beginning, to take away that time from him. I didn't give him too much rhythm.

That's why he started making more unforced errors, I guess. If he has time, obviously, and if he is feeling well, he's definitely one of the best players in the world on clay, especially.

Q. What has changed for you this week?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, nothing has changed drastically. I mean, I have been raising the level of my tennis gradually to come to this point. It wasn't anything that happened all of a sudden. I had a pretty good clay court season so far.

I thought I had a good tournament in Monte-Carlo. Was unfortunate to lose there in third set against Goffin. And I had a very good week in Madrid. I felt, as the time goes by, I'm feeling more comfortable on the court. Feeling like I'm striking the ball the way I want it. So to arrive to this match and this performance of tonight was a process. It still is a process. So I don't want to stop here. I want to keep going, because I know I'm on the right path. You know, hopefully tomorrow's final will be -- I don't know if it's possible to be as equally as good as tonight, but at least close to it.

Q. Already to watch you today, when you were smiling, playing with Del Potro, you seemed to be different. I mean, joyful. We could somehow predict tonight you would play well. Probably you wouldn't predict to play so well. What do you think of Thiem? You just spoke, but yesterday versus Nadal he was unbelievable. How can you explain one player one day plays that way, and the next day...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's a different matchup. And also, it's a different day. I mean, he spent probably a lot of energy, mental, physical, emotional, to beat Nadal. To beat Nadal on clay, really, you have to do your really very best in every sense of and aspect of your being.

I'm sure that that has taken some gas out of him. But nevertheless, I thought, you know, as I said, I have started very well with a very solid game from back of the court, staying close to the line, protecting the line, taking away the time from him. I guess he didn't really get into the match.

He tried a few times. He had chances maybe on my serve, couple break points, but I managed to just serve well when I needed to and just everything worked perfectly.

Yeah, of course it wasn't a great night for him. You know, he wasn't playing his best. But also, on the other hand, I played probably the best tennis I have played in the last ten months.

Q. Thoughts on playing Sascha tomorrow who is the youngest guy to be in one of these finals in a long time? What would a win tomorrow mean for sort of you feeling like you're back? Do you think you're back, or...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, of course I would love to win the trophy, and I'm going to go out on the court giving my everything in order to do that.

But tomorrow's match will not change the way I feel about myself and will not change the way I proceed with things in the future. You know, I feel that this is exactly the way I want to be. I have lost a little bit of that, you know, satisfaction and joy of playing tennis in the last while competing in the last, you know, ten months or so, and I was really trying to find it.

And in the last maybe two months I started to feel balanced, you know. And tonight's match is a great indicator that things are going in the right direction that I should keep on going in that path.

My tomorrow's opponent is someone that everybody is looking up to and saying that he's going to be one of the top players, and he's definitely on the right way. He's been playing some very impressive tennis on the surface that I thought will suit him the least, but he's proven many people wrong. I mean, he's won his first title in Munich some weeks ago, won against some very good players in Madrid and again here.

Yeah, he's in a great form. He's 20 years old. His life and career are ahead of him. Of course I can relate to what he's feeling right now. I have been in his shoes. I know how excited you feel before your first final of a big tournament.

He's a nice guy and someone that I like. And I have seen him grow up. I know his older brother. We grew up together. It's amazing to see going back 10, 12 years ago when he was only a boy going around with his racquet and, you know, fast-forward to this day that we are gonna play in the finals of one of the biggest events in the world.

It's a great beginning of his professional career he had so far, and he deserves to be in the final, but I'm going to make sure he doesn't get his hands on that trophy tomorrow. I'll at least try.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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