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May 30, 2018

Grigor Dimitrov

Paris, France

G. DIMITROV/J. Donaldson

6-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Good win, but the talking point most people are talking about is the underarm serve. What was your thought about it?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Everything is in the game. Simple as that.

I mean, I know how it is to feel like you're cramping. So I guess he just wanted to find some other way, and that was that. I think it was very smart for him to do that.

I mean, I think I've done it once in my career and I think it worked. So when he did it, I just -- I was like, Okay, now I know how he feels.

So I knew what is it to be on the other side, and I don't think about it too much, to be honest, when he did it. In a way, I was expecting it at some point. I thought he could have tried something like that, and, yeah.

Q. Tell us about the celebration at the end.
GRIGOR DIMITROV: No, it's -- as I said, I know the feeling. I know what is it to be on the other side and cramping.

I mean, after playing for about, what, a little over four hours, it's great. I mean, I just -- I felt good. I thought I had quite a little bit left in the tank, so that was great. And I think it meant a lot to the whole team, but especially to my fitness guy, to Sebastien.

And me and him will always joke around when we are working really hard and we start laughing. You know, you get to that point that you're so tired because you've loaded up the legs so much. And today was all smiles on our side. So I think that was just a big appreciation.

You know, and it's great to win a match in five sets. I think it stays with you, you keep it, and especially on clay and out here at the French Open.

So we move forward. I think it was one of those matches that I didn't play my best, but I managed a way to win. And when one thing wasn't going well, the physical part was great. So, you know, we check that off.

And we heard the last words: game, set, match. So that was the key.

Q. And kissing the knees?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was the legs. I mean, I thought I could have fought a little more. But I was like, you know what? I'm just going to kiss the knees. It was nothing about the knees. It was mainly the legs, so that was that.

As I said, it felt good. And to be able to feel so good in terms of, like, physicality. I mean, I know he tried his best. I know he was playing very physical tennis from the first point. So I kind of knew that it was going to be very hard for him to keep that up.

It doesn't matter how good he was playing. I knew I was going to -- at one of the sets, I knew I'm going to have a chance for me to kind of step into the match and kind of take everything in my hands.

But, again, I think he played a very, very good match. But, again, ultimately, I found a way to -- in a way, to finish the match in a comfortable way even though the score was 10-8 in the fifth.

Q. I just want to bring up the third and fourth sets very quickly, those last games in the third and fourth sets. There was a game when you were 5-4 down, and at 15-All you missed a forehand to the open court, and then you missed the next couple of shots, and then all of a sudden the set went away.
GRIGOR DIMITROV: That was the fourth set or -- which set was that?

Q. The third set that you lost. And then the same thing turned around and happened to you in the fourth set, that he all of a sudden got tight and made three or errors in the row. But then in the fifth set both of you buckled down and didn't make any errors when it got to 5-All, 6-All, 7-All. Did you remember those moments when the fifth set came along?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, absolutely. But, for me, it was I could only focus on -- I can only speak for myself and focus on my side of the net.

I wanted to play my game the way I wanted to play my game with that margin of, you know, missing or making a winner. And I think for me that is important.

It's important part when I have those moments for me to see it, obviously, and then just kind of be like, Okay, I missed. I missed. There's still one set to be played and anything can happen.

And it did happen, obviously, in the fourth set. I had a look. I seized that opportunity. And then again in the fifth was a little bit cat and mouse on certain games.

But, I mean, I felt everything else was just out there. Was just -- I mean, the game itself was going in a very -- in a way, normal way, I like to say. Because I think he was doing some mistakes. I was doing some mistakes. But then, when it really got down to the crucial moments, we played good tennis.

But in the same time, I felt more fresh. So I kind of could see that and knew -- I mean, went to press and went to take some, I mean, some spin off my ball or use any different, I think, tactics. But I was very clear on how I wanted to play my match.

Q. This great match took place on the new 18 court. I'm wondering what are your thought on this court and the atmosphere today?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was full house. That was great.

It could have a little more space in the back, absolutely. I'm not going to lie about that. But I think it's a great court. It's never easy to just walk into the arena for the first time.

And I remember walking in and, you know, the chair umpire was like, You're late. I'm like, I got three times through the wrong tunnel. Like, I just kept missing it.

But that's how it is. It's fine. As I said, in tennis, everybody has obstacles, whether it's going to a new court, playing a new opponent every day, not every night you sleep the best, you have weird dreams. I don't know. You know, every day you have to deal with that.

So today it was another obstacle for me was to go play on the new court and find a way to win, and that's what I did.

Q. What sort of emotions do you go through in a long, grueling match like that, both emotionally and physically?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I was not thinking physically, that's for sure. I was just thinking -- I mean, there's tons of things that are going through your head when you sit down on the changeover, mainly about tennis, so that's a good sign.

But, yeah, you don't think about, you know, how long you play or anything like that. You just focus on, you know, the opponent, the mistakes that you've done in the game, what else you could have done better.

Just acknowledge yourself also being there. I think is very important to be present and just kind of -- it's good to keep on feeling the ground, because you can easily drift away.

It feels a little bit like the time has stopped sometimes when the second hour passed. And all of a sudden you just -- you know where he's going to ever. You know what you have to do. And I think those moments are very important just to stay lucid and stay present in the moment and use every opportunity you have throughout the match, because you never know when that moment will come.

Q. The underhand serves that he threw at you a couple times --
GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was beautiful; right?

Q. What was your thought when it happened the first time? You don't see that a lot, but it worked.
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, it worked the first time, not the second.

Well, I mean, what can I say? I've said it before. I think it's great and it's in the game. Simple as that.

I mean, he wanted to use something different to kind of try to put me off guard with that, but okay. I missed the first, yeah, the first time he did it. But also I know why he did it. He was hurting big time.

But, of course, great for him for trying that. Again, it's never easy to have to serve underhand. But it's making great talk out of it, so that's great.

Q. Rafa sometimes stands so far back that you can't see him on TV. Is that a tactic that more people should use because you can win a lot of points?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I mean, as I said, it's in the game. I'm sure certain players will maybe try that against him or whatever.

Especially, I mean, as I said, on that court it's very hard to stay far back. If there's also a little bit of a breeze, I mean, you have to go back, it's -- I mean, the ball is jumping over you. That's the only, I think, minus of the court.

Everything else, the court felt great. And I was trying to have, like, also a good distance between me and the ball, because sometimes it's not easy, especially when the opponent tosses the ball. It's kind of you lose the ball in the crowd a little bit, so you have to be so focused.

And, I mean, everything else is so easy to see during the match, but yeah.

Q. You said you used an underarm serve once. Can you remember where you did it and who against?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was a long, long time ago. I don't think I did it at the professional level to be honest.

Q. Junior?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Probably junior.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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