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January 11, 2020

Nenad Zimonjic

Novak Djokovic

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

N. DJOKOVIC/D. Medvedev

6-1, 5-7, 6-4

Team Serbia - 2

Team Russia - 0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Novak, it was an extraordinary match to watch, and there were some incredible points. What was it like to play?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Exciting, exhausting, joyful, dreadful all at once. At one point we, I think, we both refused to miss from baseline, so it was a lot of rallies and it was very exhausting. Very physical battle, but also mental battle.

I thought I started off the match in the best possible way, played great, felt very well, felt everything that I was doing was working. I was set and a break, and then long, long game. He managed to rebreak.

I, you know, lost my concentration and nerves and he was 4-1 up. And next thing you know managed to break back and come back to the match and 4-All. From 4-All all the way to the last shot it was anybody's game, really.

He showed why he's one of the best players in the world, why he's top 5. I mean, this kind of consistency and this kind of solid game from back of the court, big serves got him to where he is, you know. He deserves to be there.

He's won a lot of matches last year, probably more than anybody. That gives you a lot of confidence, obviously. He likes playing on hard courts, and it's just at times difficult to break him down, you know, from back of the court.

So you have to kind of try to use the various tactics and variations in the game itself, the rotation in the ball, and not really give him always the same look because, you know, it seems like he's a machine, you know.

I feel the same when I'm in lockdown, so it was very physical battle. Some amazing points obviously. That volley, I was lucky to really win that breakpoint. When I broke his serve, I think it was 2-All in the third set, it was a similar point with some net play. Yes, he's not so comfortable at the net, but, I mean, who could foresee such an exchange, you know.

Definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played against him or any other top player last few years.

Q. How long have you been working on that particular game plan that was so successful early? Was it something you hatched here or something came up last year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I mean, since last night, you know, really talking with coach, with the team, and today in the warmup, practice warmup, was trying a few things out.

I had a clear vision what I want to do and it worked great. But then he started figuring it out, and then, you know, he started missing less. He was playing really, really solid and very tough from back of the court. Made my life difficult, you know.

As I said, it was anybody's game, really could have gone different way like the match against Shapovalov yesterday.

Q. A lot of people are going to talk about your great match, but Dusan has been playing pretty fantastic tennis throughout the event. How proud are you of his development and how he's really stepped up for the country?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: So proud, and I want to give him a huge credit for what he has done in this competition so far. He's won all of his matches except one, and the one he lost was in tight three sets.

His level is getting higher and higher as the competition progresses, which is so good to see him. I mean, as a friend and someone that has followed his development for many years and to see him playing this well is fantastic.

I'm enjoying it, and I'm also thankful, because I have been coming into most of my matches with 1-0 rather than 0-1. So it's a huge relief obviously. We have been clinching all of our ties except one match after singles, which is a huge advantage. It saves energy as well for the next challenge.

Obviously we're in the finals. That's what we dreamed before. That's what we hoped for when we got together. We're going to have a chance to fight for a trophy.

Q. How important is a match like that for you going into the finals here but also with the Australian Open coming up?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very important because of the fact he's one of the best players in the world, I said that before, top 5. He's one of the guys to beat in any slam, especially in the hard courts.

To have these kind of close wins, physical battles against him and Shapovalov, as well, you know, obviously brings a lot of positive energy, a lot of confidence and a lot of excitement and motivation prior to Australian Open.

Obviously I'm going to have a week off no tournaments. I'm going to be Melbourne. I pulled out from Adelaide, so it gives me more time to get ready for Melbourne, which is the most successful tournament in my career, the one that I have loved playing the most.

Q. Why do you think you have had so much success here? Is it the courts? Your style of play? What do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Here, you mean in Australia?

Q. Yeah.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, because I have played only once in Sydney 10 years ago, so it's great to be playing in a different city, as well, in Australia, because most of the success I had in Australia comes from Melbourne.

It's the beginning of the season, and I'm not the only player that feels and talks this way, but I'm very motivated. I'm inspired to play my best tennis. For different reasons the conditions are suitable to my style of the game, and Melbourne Park, especially.

It's one of the four biggest events in our sport historically, so of course you always give that extra drop of energy that you have, motivation to really do your best.

There are various factors why I feel well, but I also feel well off the court. I really feel welcomed as a tennis player, because Australia is a country that nurtures a rich tennis tradition and history, and this is the reason why they have one of the four most important events in tennis. And people, you know, recognize you, come up to you, give you support, and it's beautiful to be a tennis player in Australia.

I feel a good vibe. But also, you know, also outside of that, you know, it's a great lifestyle. You guys are very laid back. It's nice, because it allows you to kind of unwind a little bit, because it's a lot of stress being in a Grand Slam and competing every single day.

It's nice to have the atmosphere, which is very relaxing. It balances you.

Q. In the second set there were some times when you were kind of bent over, gasping for air. Was that just the physicality of the rallies with Daniil or the conditions?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it was just the physicality. It's not always possible to be at your best fitness-wise 100% every single point.

I mean, I work a lot, as most of the other players put a lot of hours in fitness and everything, so I consider myself really fit throughout my career. At least, you know, I never had too many issues except the early stages of my career. After that, had so many long matches and never had too many issues to really go five, six hours.

But there are times in the match when it's just -- it's tough. You know, it's tough. It's out there. It's one-on-one battle. If you play a player that is in a kind of complete lockdown, doesn't miss a shot, makes you work double as much, and nerves and obviously pressure, everything has its effect on how you feel.

But I overcame it, and he did too. So I think all the way till the end we were actually playing high quality tennis, hitting the ball rather than just pushing it, which was impressive to experience and also to see.

Q. Normally at this time of year you'd be playing but probably thinking or I imagine thinking more about the first major of the season. Does playing here representing your country sort of force you to play at your highest level, even right at the start of the year when you otherwise would be preparing for a Grand Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that's correct. You know, obviously every tournament is important, and you want to start off well in the first week of the season. And for most of the years, I have been playing in Doha, you know, or Hopman Cup, and of course I was respecting and treating those tournaments seriously, but I was kind of in my thoughts already in Melbourne and trying to prepare myself the best as I can, because that's where you want to peak, you know.

And especially at this stage of my career, Grand Slams are the ones. And ATP Cup, Davis Cup, I love playing for Serbia and for my country, and team competitions is something that gets me going tremendously.

I mean, I love it. I love the experiences, the emotions. Nenad is our captain. All of the guys on the team are dear friends of mine, some of the best friends I have in my life. I have known them for over 20 years.

So to get to share these kind of quality moments on and off the court with them, it feels like you're traveling with a family. That gives you even more reason to keep on playing.

So that's why I wouldn't say that I'm really fully focused on Melbourne. Of course that's where I want to play my best, but this time is different, because ATP Cup is really, is more special. I really enjoy it because of all of the things that I just stated.

Q. The fact that you originally were intending to go to Adelaide and have changed your mind now, is that due to the intensity of the competition? Has the intensity taken you a bit by surprise?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was hoping there was going to be this many matches and this much intensity, because that means we would do well. And we have done well and we have reached the finals.

I did sign in for Adelaide because I didn't know how ATP Cup is going to go for us. So, you know, you could have also finished it pretty early after group stages, and you want to have more matches coming into Melbourne.

So, yes, the only reason was because we got so far here that I just need to conserve energy after this competition is done for Melbourne.

Q. Nenad, Spain or Australia next in the final. We don't know who next obviously. But can you talk about the different challenges those teams present to your lineup?
NENAD ZIMONJIC: Yeah, both teams got through to the semis. The difference was one or two points. Australia saved so many match points, and similar situation was with Spain, not really match points, but that shows how tough the competition is and how close the matches are.

Either Australia or Spain, it's going to be a really tough challenge for us. The good thing is that we played our matches in the morning, and it was difficult when we came here to play at 10:00 in the morning because of the time change and then match after match.

Russia had the day off yesterday. Novak had to come back today after a tough match yesterday against Shapovalov, so it wasn't easy.

So this maybe gives us a little bit longer time to recover. I have to say huge congrats to both Dusan and Novak for amazing level of tennis that they played. Today it seems like the level, it's going up every match as we are progressing, which is something that you'd like to see.

For me, Dusan played his best match ever, I would say, on the hard courts. I have seen him play a lot, and last year was his best year, but most of the results came on clay.

And now I think that his level was really high. Novak, I thought it was amazing, amazing match today. We witnessed something that you don't see too often, you know. An opponent like Daniil Medvedev who maybe after Wimbledon was one of the best players, if not the best player, for certain time of the year and winning so many tournaments.

Then he was close to lose straight sets in the finals, came back, strong, fought until the end against Rafa. Now here very similar situation. That shows how determined he is to fight and that he believes he can be the best.

But then again, you know, being here courtside and watching how these guys are battling and what Novak was talking about, you feel at one point somebody touched them like this and said, Listen, you guys are not missing anymore. You cannot miss any ball.

And it was just amazing to see this, to witness all these matches. Yesterday's match was completely different. Today's match was different. But both special and unique.

At the same time, crowd was amazing again. That's as a player. For me now as a captain, it's also great, but knowing the feeling that when you're on the court playing for your country, for your teammates, and you have such a support what we had here, it felt like playing at home.

So that's something that brings the best out of all of us. You know, for me, my goal today was to help as much as I can with any information to benefit the team, to benefit Novak or Dusan, and really, really happy that we're in the finals.

We're looking for a tough challenge tomorrow, whoever it's gonna be. I think it's gonna be a really amazing match tonight, as well, Australia and Spain.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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