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May 19, 2019

Novak Djokovic

Rome, Italy

R. NADAL/N. Djokovic

6-0, 4-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Under the circumstances, do you draw confidence out of this match, despite the obvious fatigue?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm really glad that I managed to get into the third set, considering the first set where I was blown away from the court. Obviously third set was not much different from the first.

Actually first probably three, four games of the third set were quite close. Maybe that's where I had a slight chance to kind of build on the momentum that I had from winning the second set.

Yeah, I was just running out of fuel a little bit today. Just kind of missed that half a step, especially on the backhand side. He used it very well. He's been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week. He was just too strong today.

Q. You had the late semifinal last night. Three years ago, you played Murray in the final here, similar situation. How much of a disadvantage did you feel like you were at before the match even started?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, it's always question do you want to speak about it or not. I really always try to respect the win of my opponent. I don't like to talk about it too much. It is what it is.

The schedule can be improved, in my opinion. I think also there was a situation with the doubles match. They finished I think yesterday, after I ended up my semifinals around 11, and the doubles match was almost 1 a.m. They went out on the court to play their finals at 2 p.m. Those things are a little bit concerning for players. You start asking yourself, How are they making the schedule?

Look, again, it has been like that for singles at least for a while. I accept it. I respect whatever I have in front of me. I think it was a great week, considering I was one shot away to lose quarterfinals against del Potro. To get to the finals is really a great result.

As I've said, I haven't played my best today, I haven't felt my best. At the same time I managed to fight. That's the positive I take from it.

Q. You've had a lot of success with your backhand to his forehand. Do you think he played better from that side today, you were lacking a little...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In the second set, it was better. Just overall, yeah, as I said, I was lacking a little bit more of a dynamic movement, kind of attacking the ball. He's got a very difficult, heavy topspin. He can change directions so easily. He's got a great flick of the wrist. He's so talented on any surface. But, I mean, clay especially. He covers the court so well.

The shots that you can win the rally or a point against 99% of players, with him it doesn't work. It takes an extra shot more. Yeah, sometimes you just have to position yourself well, whether you step into the court or you back up.

My kind of backhand is maybe not as Dominic Thiem's or someone else's who can produce a lot of spin. I kind of step in and try to take the ball early. It works, sometimes it doesn't.

Today he just managed to get the best out of that exchange, I can say.

Q. (Question regarding the president of the Italian Federation and Madrid and Rome expanding to 10 days.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First of all, I don't know where he got that information from because it's not true. That's for sure. It hasn't been decided.

There's been a lot of talks about it for years now. But it's not that simple. I understand why this tournament or Madrid want to have additional few days. I understand. But then it affects some other weeks or other tournaments. You have to try to find a balance.

It is complicated. I think change is going to happen. That's my feeling. I don't know whether this tournament and Madrid will get 10 days. I don't think one will get, another one will not. So it's either both or none. That's my opinion.

Again, the schedule and the calendar is very complicated. You gain something, but then you lose and maybe hurt another two or three smaller tournaments. That can create a lot of trouble for ATP as a legal entity.

Q. What was going through your mind in the first set? How high or good was Rafa's level?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, his level was very high, without a doubt, throughout the entire tournament. I knew that. But I started a bit slower. I wasn't as fresh in my legs. He used it. It took me a bit of time to kind of get used to his pace of the ball, which is completely different.

I played last, what, two, three matches, three matches out of four matches, I played night session. Completely different bounce. It doesn't bounce higher than the waistline. Very muddy, slow. During the day it's different. Especially with his forehand. I tried to get used to where the ball is bouncing, where I have to kind of position myself to hit it well.

The second set was obviously better. Played well. Had my chances in first couple games, I thought, in the third set. Then he ran away from me.

Q. Different sort of clay leadup on tour, three different guys winning three different clay events, Thiem in Barcelona. How do you see the field shaping up heading into Roland Garros?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Nadal, number one favorite, without a doubt, then everyone else (smiling).

But I think it's going to be a good tournament. Dominic Thiem is playing some really, really good tennis. He can beat anybody really, especially on clay. Fognini also playing great quality tennis. He showed it against Nadal in Monte-Carlo what he's capable of.

I mean, on a given day, best-of-five, with one day between matches, I think players will have enough time to really be at their best. Everyone is trying to peak for Roland Garros, without a doubt.

I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a great tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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