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May 27, 2018

Grigor Dimitrov

Paris, France


6-1, 6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. You mentioned this on the court, but I'm just wondering, when did you find out and how tricky is it when suddenly your opponent changes? And did you know much about Mohamed beforehand?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I met him -- actually, we spent a bit of time when we played juniors, if I remember correct. I know him since quite sometime. He's a great guy, actually.

After my warmup today, I just walked into the locker room, and, whoa, Viktor was, like, Hey, good luck today. Okay. I guess we're going to play like that. But it is what it is. I just found out about 30, 35 minutes before I had to go out.

It's not easy, I think, when those kind of things happen, you just need to be ready. I mean, you have played many matches in the past. You kind of prepare yourself every day for different obstacles, whether it's weather, strings, balls, opponents. You just have to be ready.

Yeah, I just needed, like, five, ten minutes to disconnect from what I had in mind to play and what I wanted to do and kind of, you know, look at the few videos of the way he was playing. Because he already played two matches, so that's -- I mean, that gives him a bit of an advantage, regardless.

So, yeah, I mean, after that, I just had to -- I had to go out and do the best that I can. I think it was a good start.

Q. The third set was pretty close. How did you experience this set?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I think each game he start to feel a bit more comfortable and a bit looser hitting his shots. I think he was obviously very nervous at the beginning. I felt that in the first set. And even at some point in the second.

So obviously when you have nothing to lose and you come in and start shooting a little bit, and he was serving well. Everything was just going, you know, his way.

But, I mean, I didn't think of anything else. I didn't panic or I didn't feel like, what's going on or anything like that. I just took everything as normal. I was just trying to find a little window that I could, you know, swoop in and just take the match.

Yeah, just waited till tiebreak, but then, yeah, after that, was just a good way of playing and a good way of finishing the match.

Q. He told us that that was his very first time to step on Philippe Chatrier. Obviously that's a huge court, dimensions and everything. Do you remember the first time you stepped on that court?

Q. What was it like for you?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: It's not easy. I know the feeling. So that's why I knew how he felt. But also I knew that that could be a little bit dangerous, as well. He has nothing to lose. Loves being out there. You know, things are happening, and they have happened before.

As I said, I recognize this very early in the match, so I think that helped me to do a little bit better. But, yeah, other than that, you know, it's a match that I had to go through and I wanted to go in a good manner, of course. Straight sets was very important part for me.

And now it's just, yeah, just about regrouping and on to the next one.

Q. You said after the match it felt like coming home and that you've got roots here. Do you think the familiar surroundings can help you play your best tennis here at Roland Garros?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I hope so. As I said, each year that I come out here, you see a lot of familiar faces. I have been here for quite some time. I spent, I think, around four years in Paris. I have been in different -- I think all the clubs that I could possibly exist in Paris, different courts, been out here, played on all the courts.

So it's nice, especially when you are on tour for so long, to kind of come back to something that reminds you of a good time. I think it helps you prepare well, it helps you play well.

So all those things I think more or less play a bit of a good role for you. I'm very, you know, pleased and honored to be in such a position right now to be playing on the center court, to, you know, to be top seed.

So, yeah, of course a lot of things comes with it, but in the same time, you don't have to forget to enjoy it.

Q. When you were a kid, did you play lots on clay, or was it more on hard courts?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I grew on up on clay. I think first time I hit on hard court was 11 or 12 years old. Yeah, till then it was all clay for me. I never shied away from that surface. I always liked it. I always thought I could do better and I want to do better.

So one day I know that I'm going to just improve. I think I'm improving with each year. I'm finding a better way of playing. Better way of moving on the surface. Surely, we're going to get there.

Q. You guys had a nice hug at the end. I was just wondering if you can share any of the words...
GRIGOR DIMITROV: As I say, we have known each other for so long. It was, just, It's nice to see you.

It's nice to play someone you know for such a long time. It's as simple as that.

I mean, honestly there is not much else I can say about it, because it's entirely of a friendly situation. I'm happy. I mean, I'm happy when I see players that I have, I mean, shared courts, practice, matches from juniors. And now we are out here, battling on such a court. I think it's great. So you never have to forget that.

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