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May 11, 2019

Novak Djokovic

Madrid, Spain


7-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. How meaningful was that to you? He's been in great form on clay, and you took advantage of the opportunities. How do you see that match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: A very important match for me, a very important win against one of the best players in the world in general, of course this year and especially on clay with wins against Nadal and Federer obviously. And winning the tournament in Barcelona. He's in great form.

Very difficult conditions to play in. This is the fastest conditions that I've played in this tournament so far. Very heavy ball from his side and next to Rafa he probably is the player with most spin and rotation on the ball, so it's very hard to kind of dictate the play, stay close to the line which was obviously the tactic coming into the match.

I knew that I need to be closer to the line and try to dictate the play, mix up the pace. I didn't want to give him too much time. If he has a lot of time, he is as good of a player as you can get on this surface.

So, it worked, it worked well, especially in the important moments. I thought I held my nerves well. It was a very close match. It could have gone either way absolutely. And it would be deserved if he would win the match. He was a break up in both sets. Maybe I should have closed it out when I was serving for it 6-5, but I got a little bit nervous and made some unforced errors and we got into a tie-break and both tie-breaks I thought I was calm, I was composed, I played the right shots and I read his serve well. So my serve percentage dropped in the second set and I wasn't serving that well. But when I needed it in tie-break, I got it, so that was obviously very encouraging.

Q. There was an issue with the shot clock and was there a problem with your focus when you were serving then? What exactly what was going on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was also a physical match so, I mean, I took a bit more time between the points, especially in the important moments, you know, nerves kick in. I know I bounce the ball a lot. And I didn't complain for most of those warnings that I got because I know I went over time, over the allowed time. So not much to say except maybe one situation where I thought maybe was unnecessary to get warning two points in a row and it was an important moment in the match. Just this, everything else was fine.

Q. You mentioned trying to take time away from Dominic. How much more difficult is it to do on this surface compared to hard courts, even kind of in these faster conditions?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. As I said, very challenging because he was in form, he beat Roger yesterday, and won Indian Wells, Barcelona, playing great, beating Rafa on clay, yeah.

So, I thought coming into the match I thought he was the favorite to win it. So that's why it's a great win for me. I'm really pleased that I won against Dominic who, as I said, is in top shape and in the semifinals of a big event like this, in conditions that are quite favorable to someone who plays his style with a lot of spin, as I said I'm very satisfied and, hopefully, I can have another great match tomorrow.

Q. Going back to your time violations, do you believe 25 seconds is a suitable time as a player? And would you like to see any adjustments to that policy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think 25 is fair, more than enough time. It is just that sometimes because of the rules -- the rules are basically that the chair umpire starts the clock only when he calls the score. And I noticed a couple of times today the chair umpire started the clock during, while he was calling the score. So that's obviously something I don't agree with. But at the same time 25 seconds is plenty, in my opinion, of course.

It does play with your mind at times. You feel like you need more because different factors are affecting that particular circumstance, whether the towel is late, or you drop a ball, or whatever it is, you know, you want to get maybe time in the shade before coming back in.

And so all of these things spend a lot of seconds for you. And when you get to your line and then you start with your own routine -- and my routine is ball bouncing, which is not very complimentary to this rule (smiling) and yeah, it gets you in a position to get time violation.

Q. Miljan Amanovic is here again I would like to know how important it is for your success, the coming back of your old team?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, thank you for mentioning Miljan. This is the first time I got asked about Miljan Amanovic in my entire career. It was always about Marian and Gigi was my fitness coach, but I think never anyone ask me about him, so I am really glad, thank you for that, I'm sure he will be very pleased.

It is very nice to have him because he's also one of my best friends, you know. I'm a godfather to his daughters as well so we have a very close relationship and we made a break, obviously not working together for a year-and-a-half, he was working with Milos Raonic and then we agreed to start again. And it's wonderful to see him there, you know, to have him also professionally as part of my life, but even though our relationship has never suffered privately because we've stopped professionally, we always stayed very close.

Q. You have made some incredible winners throughout your career. How are you ranking this with the lob down the stretch, you completed that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, that was definitely one of the most exciting shots I played under the circumstances. I mean, the ball kind of passed me already and I just managed to kind of do a flick of the wrist and basically place it perfectly in the corner, so it was the point of the match for sure.

Q. Just to cover this base. If you do play Rafa in the final, set it up for us how you would see that? At this stage, are you ready to take him on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think, you know, with the tennis that I've performed today, I feel like I'm ready, I'm ready for that challenge, and Rafa is always an ultimate challenge in any tournament on clay. And I think if I get to play him, this match was a good lead-up to that in a way because Dominic also plays with a very heavy spin. Of course, Rafa is a lefty. But still it's kind of a pace of the ball and rotation of the ball that is similar to Rafa's in style.

So, I'm looking forward to it. Obviously, he's got to beat Tsitsipas tonight, who is also not an easy opponent to play against. He's in form. A young player who is already top ten. So, it's finals.

So, I mean, playing Rafa in the finals of Madrid is as big of a challenge as you can get right now. And I'm looking forward to it. I already had the experience of playing him in the finals here. And, hopefully, I can, as I say, hopefully I can be at my best because that is what is going to be needed to win.

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