October 9, 2020
N. DJOKOVIC/S. Tsitsipas
6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You said on court that playing Rafa at Roland Garros is the biggest challenge in sport. Can you explain why? What do you have to do to defeat him on Sunday?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, isn't it obvious? He won this tournament so many times that I don't think any player has won that many times any tournament. He's lost twice in his entire career on this court.
Obviously the conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June. I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually.
Yeah, I mean, look, regardless of the conditions, he's still there, he's Rafa, he's in the finals and we're playing on clay.
Best-of-five playing him in the finals at Roland Garros, I know that feeling. I did lose to him on this court most of the matches that we played, but I also won one match in 2015 in straight sets in quarters. That's the match that I'll look back at and obviously try to take some positives out of it and use it tactically against him.
I'm not feeling exhausted physically so much after tonight's match, obviously almost four hours. It was a great battle. But I feel fine. I think a day and a half will be plenty of time for me to recover. I'm really looking forward to a great battle with Rafa.
Q. When you have a match like that where you have a match point in the third set, are you more sort of annoyed with yourself for not finishing it off or more pleased, satisfied with the way you kept your calm under pressure as you went on?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think both. I was definitely not pleased with the way I played the finishing stages of the third and fourth set, but I was very pleased with the way I kept my composure mentally throughout the entire match.
I did feel that even though I lost the third and fourth, I still felt like I was the better player on the court. I had more control. I just felt comfortable playing.
Credit to him for fighting back. He just played terrific tennis, especially in the fourth set when he was facing break points. I had many opportunities to break his serve in the fourth and finish the match earlier.
He's a fighter. He's one of the best players in the world. Deservedly so. Obviously he was also fighting for his first Grand Slam final. Of course, there was a lot at stake for him. He was motivated to try to turn the match around, which he did very well.
But in the end I think he ran out of gas. That's when I stepped it up, used my opportunities when they were presented in the fifth, and closed out the match in a great fashion.
Q. You're one of only two people to have beaten Rafa here. The number of times you would have played over here, does the past have any bearing on what might happen or what might open up on Sunday?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I've played him more than I played any other player in my professional career. I think our head-to-head is the biggest head-to-head ever in the history of the sport. I mean, the amount of matches we played is almost 60 matches. I'm not sure exactly the number. He's definitely my greatest rival.
Playing him in so many great matches, of course the past will have some effect in terms of respect towards each other, I guess motivation to get out on the court and play your best, knowing that we both have to be at our best in order to win against each other.
So I think that's where the past will play its offensive line. Not more than that, to be honest, because I think we are both experienced enough to really approach matches like this focusing only what is ahead of us. We all know that the conditions and the circumstances are obviously different from what we are used to.
It's going to be interesting to see how his game and my game kind of match up, how it all plays out on Sunday. Depending on what is the temperature as well. That affects a lot the court, whether it's heavy, not bouncing much, slippery, windy. All these things can affect I think both of us mentally and our games.
Q. He's going for his 20th slam title. You're going for your 18th. People are saying maybe this is the biggest match you've ever played. Do you feel there's maybe more at stake this time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Finals of Grand Slam is always huge. This is what you work for all year long, every season hoping that you can put yourself in a position to fight for Grand Slam trophies.
But I don't think it's the biggest match that I have ever played in my life. I think there were some bigger ones. In terms of importance, I mean, if I have to compare, even though I don't like, but probably the first Wimbledon finals that I actually played against him. Wimbledon was always the one that I wanted to win as a kid and dreamed of winning. That's probably the one that stands out.
French Open 2016 against Andy Murray here. Every French Open final that I played was the match of my life before I actually won it.
Yeah, I mean, it does have a certain I would say significance and difference when I play French Open finals to any other slam final. This is the one that I won the least, so of course I am extremely motivated to try to get my hands on another trophy.
Q. What would it mean to you to prevail Sunday and lift the trophy for your 18th, finish the year with a slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, that would be an icing on the cake, as you guys like to say. I hopefully will be able to play my best tennis because that's what's going to be needed in order to have a shot at the trophy.
But look, I am in position to be close to the trophy. I'm in the last match of the tournament, playing against the biggest rival, the biggest obstacle and challenge that you can have. This is what it comes down to.
I've been there. I've done it. I understand what needs to be done and how I need to prepare myself. I'm looking forward to it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports