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March 11, 2018

Taro Daniel

Indian Wells, California

T. DANIEL/N. Djokovic

7-6, 4-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How was that experience for you? After he took the second set, did you still have to believe that you could do that?
TARO DANIEL: Yeah, I mean, amazing. Warming up this morning, I was like, crap, this court is really big. I was actually pretty nervous playing the match.

But he obviously wasn't in his top form, so I was able to take advantage of it. And even if I lost the second set, I still had faith I could pull something off in the third.

And I was able to stay pretty tough, so I'm pretty proud of that, yeah.

Q. He said he didn't feel his rhythm at all, and he felt almost like it's his first match ever on tour. Did you get a sense of that?
TARO DANIEL: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, the Djokovic I know is like the Djokovic I have seen on TV, and he never misses a ball. He puts the ball wherever he wants.

Today, obviously he was missing a lot of balls, but, I mean, even then you still have to beat him. Especially, you know, in a crowd like this, it's pretty amazing to do it, and I'm pretty happy to have -- you know, it's a huge -- it's going to be a huge win for my career in the future, for sure.

Q. At what point did you start thinking about a win?
TARO DANIEL: I mean, when I broke back in the first set I was, like, okay, he's not playing well. I can do it. If I really stick to this, I can do it.

And, like, you know, in the second set, too, I was, like, okay, he broke me. Usually I would have been, like, okay, he broke me. It's probably going to be over in the third set. He's probably going to beat me 6-2 or 6-3.

But then I don't know why, but I felt like I could stick in there and stay calm. Like, in the third set, I regrouped myself. I played the best set of the whole match, and that was really good, yeah.

Q. When you spoke before you talked about changing the way you play, going away from that Spanish mentality. Talk about your recent improvements and whether you could put that into play today.
TARO DANIEL: Yeah, it's mostly with my serve and maybe, you know, taking some second serves more in the front, inside the baseline or on the baseline.

I guess today there weren't too many -- too much of that, but obviously my serve saved me a lot. I didn't hit too many aces. I hit many double faults, but I think it kept him out of rhythm.

And I don't think I would have been able to do that a year ago. So that's a big improvement, because that's what was missing the most in my game, and hopefully I can keep it up and keep it improving. Because it's still not, you know, top 50 material, but I want to get it there soon enough. Yeah.

Q. Can you talk some more about yourself? I know you're a huge Led Zeppelin fan. You have said you wished you lived in the '70s before. Can you just tell us a few more things that fans should know?
TARO DANIEL: Hmm. I guess I'm not like the most Japanese person there is who represents Japan (smiling). I mean, I guess together with Naomi Osaka, we're not, like, two traditionally Japanese.

But I don't know. I love to watch movies. I love Woody Allen stuff. I guess all of my stuff I like in movies and music is pretty old.

Yeah, I don't know. It's hard to say out of the -- explain, like, tell people what I'm like, you know.

Q. Are you still training in Spain?
TARO DANIEL: No, no. I finished in Spain last September, so I have been training in Japan, and I'm kind of also like training a bit in the U.S., too, and, you know, half-half kind of.

Q. Where in the U.S.?
TARO DANIEL: I'm going to try and get myself into IMG Academy sometime, and then I also have my dad helping me out, you know. So I haven't 100% established myself in the U.S. yet, but I'm planning to soon, yeah.

Q. You mentioned that your dad's American. I assume your mother is Japanese. Could you just tell us a little bit about the cultural balance and what it's like for you.
TARO DANIEL: Yeah, I mean, my dad's like a half-Caucasian/half Asian-American, and my mom is just Japanese. But I think my mom was also, like, a pretty international person. She was a flight attendant for a few years for Japan Airlines, so she spoke English, spoke a little bit of French. You know, I think I was brought up more in an international way, I guess. Had many foreign friends.

Yeah, I don't know. I consider myself more Japanese, but not completely (smiling). Yeah, I don't know. Hard to explain.

Q. You must feel pretty at home on the tour, then, with such a mix of nationalities?
TARO DANIEL: Yeah, for sure. I'm very grateful to speak three languages. Makes it so much easier to communicate with different players. I have a lot of Argentinian tennis players that I'm friendly with, a lot of American guys, and obviously Japanese guys.

So it's good to be able to kind of, you know, just speak with everybody. It's something many players can't have, so I'm pretty grateful for that. Makes the tour more enjoyable.

Q. Who are some of the players you're friendly with?
TARO DANIEL: I'm pretty friendly with JP Smith. Obviously more like the guys who are around 100 and stuff. I used to be pretty friendly with James McGee and also Pablo Carreno, Albert Ramos, Ferrer. Ferrer is more like a mentor, I guess. I have trained with him in the same place for a few years. And obviously Kei. He's been a great friend and a great influence the past few years for me, too.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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