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June 7, 2017
A. MURRAY/K. Nishikori
2-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-1
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. There was a change of tactics, second set. How significant was the disagreement over the time violation and giving you that spark to just change things?
ANDY MURRAY: Look, I mean, I don't know. Obviously for a couple of points after that I was -- you know, I was fired up, because I was frustrated at that moment. It felt to me like it was a strange decision. I have never seen anyone get a warning after they have missed the ball toss. I have never seen that.
So I was frustrated about it, but I don't know how much impact that had on the -- you know, it's not like I played a great point the next point. Kei missed a second-serve return, and then I think a good serve on the next point.
Obviously, you know, I broke the following game. Kei played a poor game to break. I didn't do anything special, but that was a critical period of the match, that, because he started way better than me. He had chances beginning of the second, as well. And then from there I started to do a bit better.
It wasn't the best match. It was tricky out there.
Q. You seem to be in good form right now. Can you think of any instances in the past where you have come into the Grand Slam where you might have had a few question marks over your form and throughout the tournament something's just clicked and you've gone on that run now? Does this feel like a bit of a new situation for you?
ANDY MURRAY: I don't know. The year I won Wimbledon, I mean, I had been struggling through the clay court season. I had problems with my back. I withdrew from the match at Rome and then pulled out of the French, as well, that year.
I did play well in Queen's that year and the buildup to Wimbledon, but I hadn't played loads of matches the weeks before that.
I mean, off the top of my head, I can't think of many more situations than that, but I'm sure it's happened. But, yeah, as you get through, you know, the matches, you gain in confidence.
You know, today, to win a match, I didn't feel like I played great tennis today. You know, it's a huge step in the right direction for me. Anyone can win matches when they are playing well. It's winning when you're not playing your best is more impressive. So I'm happy about that.
Q. Carlos Ramos has also had run-ins with Rafa and Novak at this tournament over time violations. Do you think there is inconsistency and do you have a problem with him? Would you ever consider asking him not to do one of your matches?
ANDY MURRAY: I have never had any issues with him before. I think he's a very good umpire. It was just today it was just strange how it came about, because it was after the very first game of the match.
You know, when we changed ends at 1-Love he told me, You're playing too slowly. And then my second service game I got the warning. And the way I lost the serve, I thought was a strange time for it.
But it's possible that I'm playing too slow. I don't know, because we don't have the clock on the court so it's impossible for us to tell.
But I didn't feel like today I was playing slower than I was in the other matches. If I was, then obviously I deserved the warning. But I feel like I should -- if I have been playing at that speed the whole tournament, I should be getting the warnings throughout the whole event and not just starting in the quarterfinals.
Because, you know, we can't tell, as players, how long we are taking. You're allowed 20 seconds here. The rest of the year it's 25 seconds. How the players are supposed to know that in their head when we're playing at one speed, you know, throughout the whole year, and then you show up at the slams, you're expected to speed up by 5 seconds. It's a pretty long time.
And we're not aware of that, because there is no clock on the court. So it's difficult for the players to know how long they are taking. If I was playing much slower than I was the rest of the tournament, then I'm sorry for that. I'll try to speed up. But I don't feel like I was.
So that's where, for the players, it's difficult because the consistency is not there.
Q. I was going to ask along similar lines, is there a feeling amongst the players when you're talking that this whole issue is kind of getting out of hand a bit? Because it seems that it's almost unique in any sport that there is a rule that is in force so haphazardly.
ANDY MURRAY: The thing that's difficult with it is, you know, as a player, say you have 20 seconds. Say you have a shot clock on the court. Okay?
And on a clay court, sometimes when you're bouncing the ball, like, before you serve, it can hit -- you know, you get mounds on the court where it can hit and the ball rolls away. Sometimes you can miss a toss, like I did, and it's not in the rules that you aren't allowed to do that. If it was, then, you know, I would have deserved a warning.
Sometimes it can be incredibly windy, as well. You know, tennis balls are pretty light. You throw the ball up, sometimes it's actually not possible to hit the serve when you throw it up, the ball can move a lot.
Even with a clock, it would still be judgment calls that the umpires would have to make. It's never going to be -- it's never going to be perfect. So, yeah, I mean, for players obviously when it happens to you, it's frustrating.
But, you know, it's a rule that's there. I think if someone is intentionally slowing a match down, you know, they should be punished for that, but it's a rule that is going to be challenging regardless of whether there is a clock on the court or not. Umpires are always going to have to make decisions of how they deal with it. And that's it.
Q. How do you see Friday's match? Obviously good memories from last year?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I haven't given it lots of thought.
But obviously when we played last year, it was similar situation coming in. I think Stan had played really well coming into the match. You know, I had struggled in some of my matches during the event last year, but I played one of my best clay court matches that day to get the win. I need to do the same again tomorrow. He's been playing very well. He's not dropped a set here.
Yeah, he's obviously played extremely well the last few years at the French, and he's confident. It's going to be very tough. But, you know, I can learn some things from last year. I'm sure he will, as well, and will try to change some things. Should be an interesting match.
Q. Given where you were 10 days, two weeks ago, how much satisfaction do you take from making what is your fourth consecutive semifinal here? And also, how much do you think is still left in the tank?
ANDY MURRAY: Physically, I feel great. I feel really good. You know, today's match wasn't particularly long, and there was not many long rallies.
You know, when we play normally, we have a lot of long points. And today, you know, personally I think it was put down to the conditions. It was very windy down on the court. You know, there wasn't much rhythm out there. Not many long rallies.
Physically, I feel good. So I feel like, you know, that won't be an issue going into the next match.
And, yeah. Obviously if someone had offered me a semifinal spot before the tournament, I would have signed up for that because I was not playing well at all. And practice also was not good. It's been really good so far. I want to keep going.
Q. I wonder how much you have seen of Stan, Rafa, and Dominic, their matches so far and what you have made of them? None of them have dropped a set yet.
ANDY MURRAY: I saw a little bit of the start of Thiem and Djokovic match today, but literally the first six or seven games before I went out to practice.
I have seen little bits of Rafa's matches. I haven't seen much of Stan, because we have been playing on the same days, you know, sometimes at the same time, obviously like today.
I got to see a little bit of his match with GaĆ«l, actually, the other day. Both of them I think played some good tennis in that one.
Yeah, they are all obviously playing extremely well. Rafa's had a great clay court season, as has Thiem. Stan this tournament has played great. Won in Vienna so is obviously confident.
I came in playing garbage (smiling). You know, I'm the odd one out in the semis, but hopefully, you know, hopefully I can keep it up.
Q. I want to go back to today's match a little bit. Kei said he was rushing a little bit in the second set and the third set. It may be because you raised the level or he was losing his concentration a little bit. What is your assessment? Do you think you changed the strategies or you raised the level?
ANDY MURRAY: I didn't really change my strategy so much. I started hitting the ball a little bit better, so I wasn't allowing him to sort of just be standing on the baseline and dictating all of the points.
I started returning his second serve much better, which I really didn't at the beginning of the match. I gave him a lot of free points on his second serve with missed returns and, you know, poor returns.
It wasn't so much a tactical change. I think he gave me a break of serve at the beginning of the second set, and I gained a little bit of confidence from that. I started hitting the ball better from the back of the court a little bit cleaner, a little bit deeper.
Yeah, he wasn't able to dictate the points as much. So maybe, you know, he was trying to play the same shots as he was at the beginning of the match, but maybe they weren't there for him because my shots were a little bit deeper. But I didn't change my tactics so much.
Q. Could you point in one thing in your game or mindset that has changed between Madrid and now and explain how you have been playing well here?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, before the tournament, like, when I was playing practice sets and stuff, I wasn't playing particularly well. Some of the practices were okay in that respect.
But, you know, I was doing a lot of drills, a lot of very basic drills. A lot of patterns of play and just literally repeating those. Pretty boring. It's not much fun doing that stuff.
But, you know, when I'm getting into longer rallies now, you know, I feel like I'm sort of in autopilot a little bit, like I know what I should be doing, and I'm hitting the ball in the right place. Whereas, in Madrid, I didn't know which shots to play. I was rushing a little bit in long rallies. I was making poor decisions.
So I'm thinking less on the court. I think when things aren't going well, it's very easy to overthink things. You can be worrying about technique, which is never good to do that when you're playing matches. If you're concerned about technique or how a shot is feeling is never good.
And I was still feeling a little bit like that at the beginning of the tournament, the first match. But I got through that and that made a huge, huge difference to me, for sure, getting through that. That first one was really important.
Q. Coming back to Nishikori, you have played him many times. 9-2 up against him. Do you think in this tournament he was particularly erratic from what you could see today? Because he lost a couple of sets 6-Love. He won that first set quite convincingly and then a couple of heavy losses in the sets. Do you find him more erratic perhaps than usual in this tournament?
ANDY MURRAY: I didn't see lots of his matches here, so I don't know. Today certainly, like I said, I don't think it was a great match from either of us. I was maybe a little bit more solid. He played, you know, a very bad tiebreak and a bad game where I broke him in the fourth set and also in the second.
So today was maybe more erratic than usual, but I do think a little bit of that was to do with the conditions being difficult. But, yeah, I don't know about the other matches, because I didn't see them.
Q. When you played Stan last year, you said it was the best you played against him and were kind of taking control of points really early with your forehand. If you were going to do that again, would that be going up another level from where you have been this fortnight, do you think?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. I mean, I probably need to play better than I did today, but you never know. I don't know how Stan is going to play on Friday. I don't know how I'm going to play. Last year, obviously, I feel like I played some really good tennis and managed to win the match, but you have no idea. You don't know what the conditions will be like in a few days.
Sometimes, you know, you just have to do what you have to do to win the match. It's not always about how well that you play or, you know, the level that you play at.
It's about finding a way to get the win, and that's what I will try to do on Friday. In an ideal world you play great tennis, as well, and play a really good match. That unfortunately can't be the case always. You know, today, like I said, that's the most pleasing thing about today is I didn't play my best and I won against a top player in a big match.
But we don't know what's going to happen on Friday. Don't know how either of us are going to play, but with the right attitude, right game plan, right tactics, you know, you can still win matches.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports