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March 20, 2008

Novak Djokovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Your reaction to the final point of the first-set tiebreak was as though you kind of won the championship. I mean, that was probably the point of the championship. How important was that in the overall outcome?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's very important to me. I'm a very emotional player on the court and very emotional person off the court as well. I like to express my feelings, and this is obviously very important for me.
As you could see by the reaction, it was one of the -- not one of the, probably the most important point of the game.

Q. Why was he giving you so much trouble to start with? Was the problem with you or him or both?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I didn't play so well in the first set. I made a lot of unforced errors. Obviously he knows that I'm going to try to be aggressive, so he was waiting for his chance. He was playing very wisely.
But it was my mistake in the end of the first set. I couldn't finish it off at 5-3, and I got that first set in a big question. You know, 6-5 he was serving for the set, so it could go either way.
I played well that game and I gave myself another opportunity, which I used. But, again, that tiebreaker was pretty close. It was, you know, point after point and it was really interesting, I think, for the crowd to watch it.
For us it was really difficult, because we had such long rallies and points on a big heat. It is not easy to hold on, but obviously I was a bit lucky in the first set.

Q. In the tournament statistics they said you had about 31 unforced errors that first set. Did you feel like you were maybe battling yourself a lot that first set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In one way, yes. As I said, you can't always play on your top level. It's normal to have some difficult stages in the tournament and sets and matches. This was the one. This was really a test for me.
Yeah, I'm happy to win such a difficult match. You know, we played over two hours only two sets. The time is showing that we had such long rallies. But in the end I won, and that's what matters.

Q. Do you regard him as legitimate challenger perhaps for a place in the top 20?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure, I do. Even further than top 20. I think he really deserved to be -- he deserves to be there, but I think his biggest problem is health. He was struggling with the health. If he manages to keep the health, you know, on some good level, he can -- if he, again, tries to be consistent with the results, he can be a good player.

Q. Thoughts about the next round? You know, both players, who you might play.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I never played with James, so if I play him it will be a new encounter and new experience. But we know each other for a long time, of course. We been practicing and watching each other for a couple of years already.
The other side, I played against Rafa. I have negative score against him. I been successful against him on the hard courts outdoors, so I can say that I feel pretty confident if I play him. We know each other's game a lot, and we had very -- a lot of meetings in this the last year.
So it will be -- it's going to be interesting whoever I play. Again, it's going to be interesting to see who's going to win this match, because Rafa think, he never won against James. So for him, it's going mental fight to get through.

Q. Can you talk about playing Rafa last year in the finals and how that became a great learning experience for you? Because you got him again the following tournament.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I did learn a lot. Last year's finals here at Indian Wells was my first finals in the Masters Series. I was still inexperienced, young. Even though he's only one year older than me he had much more experience and many titles, so I think I was really nervous at start of the match.
Then I had some chances in the second set, but I was a bit unlucky. We had a lot of tough matches on a lot of different surfaces, so every time I play him I learn something new.
I'm going to try to figure out the way I have to play against him. He's a big fighter. You know, he's a kind of player who doesn't give you any free points, and he's going to play every point no matter what the result is.
That is what makes him so special, and that's what drives his opponents probably crazy. They don't get so much free points. This is human, and hopefully if I play him I can be myself and aggressive and get the best out the past matches I had.

Q. Do you think you're a little bit hard done by the timing of the umpire's call against you today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Listen, it's not a matter of the call, it's a matter of timing. I've talked to them a lot in the past couple months, and I said -- and they're good guys. I don't have nothing against them.
It's just they're not choosing the good timing. It happened the same thing in Australia. I am aware of the fact that I'm late, and there is no problem. I'm going to accept my -- I'm going to accept my blame and my fault.
But you have to warn me before. You can't just give me a warning like that before -- without giving me the prewarning and giving me the worst possible moment: 30-40, 5-3, I think. Okay, I went over the limit, but you should tell me before. This is something that I had against him, but okay.

Q. So maybe the previous changeover they should, say You're taking a wee bit too much time here.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: This is usually what the more experienced umpires do. Mohamed is for me one the best. He always gives me a prewarning and tells me to hurry up. If he gives me a warning afterwards, okay I take it. It's my fault.

Q. When you practice with James, what about his game has impressed you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he's a very aggressive player and he moves so well. He's very, very fast and he has extremely fast hands, so he can come up with some incredible shots from some incredible position that you, you know, least expect.
So that makes him dangerous. If you give him opportunity to play, that's when he steps it up. This is what I shouldn't do.

Q. How do you think you stack up mentally against James in terms of the match toughness?

Q. Yeah.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I haven't played him still in my career. As I said, would be probably a new experience for both of us. But it's already we're coming to the final stages of the tournament, so we're all playing better and better.
I think we going to be both motivated because it's semifinals of a big tournament.

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