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June 25, 2008

Novak Djokovic


M. SAFIN/N. Djokovic
6-4, 7-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Novak.

Q. Was a bad day at the office for you or a very good day for Safin, a bit of both? What surprised you most?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was certainly a very bad day for me. I didn't do anything that I was supposed to do. He was very solid in all segments of the game. He was serving well, and like that, putting a lot of pressure on me.
I was serving a lot of double-faults, which is unusual. I was just not finding my momentum, that's all. What can I do? I mean, it's a straight-sets win. I didn't expect it, honestly saying. I knew he's a very tough player to play against - even today - on any surfaces. Especially playing him on Centre Court obviously motivates him more to do well. Nobody expect from him too much.

Q. You finally did find your serve a little bit midway through the second set and got into the tiebreak. You lost it again. After the frustration of finding your serve and losing the tiebreak, did you just not feel like you could give everything you had in the third set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was trying, you know. I kept on trying, even though after the second set I tried to come back. It's not that I gave up. You know, I knew that I can turn around at any second.
Safin is a player who is known as a big talent, very powerful groundstroke player. But, again, he makes a lot of unforced errors. I had these opportunities, a couple of opportunities, on his service games when it was 30-All, 15-30, deuce. But then I just -- I just -- I made some unforced errors, which were really uncharacteristic, without any sense.
So he was just very consistent with all the strokes and he was mentally there. Every point he was going slowly, and opposite of me. I was having a lot of ups and downs. When I found my momentum, I couldn't keep it.

Q. You talked about the double-faults and the unforced errors. John McEnroe said after the match he thought you looked tired and that maybe you had played too many matches. What do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, tired mentally, probably I'd say yes. It's been a long season, even though it's only halfway through. But physically I wasn't tired, and that was not the explanation why I lost today. He was just better than me on the court. I had very bad day, and that's it.

Q. Have you seen him play that well in recent years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven't watched him, you know, a lot in last two years. You know, Safin still has his ups and downs. He's known for his, you know, mental instability in some ways. But he's still a great player. I mean, he's still not too old. He's playing well. He's moving well. He wants to go back. You know, he wants to step it up again and try to get far in a major.
This is a good way to start.

Q. You said you were mentally tired. Is it the traveling, so much matches, dealing with the press every day, day after day?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, it's a part of my life and I have to accept it. You know, obviously everything from all.

Q. There was a sort of warm embrace between the two of you at the end. Do you know each other particularly well, or do you just get on well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, we know each other off the court as well pretty good. I mean, we've been practicing. When I was a junior I looked at him as one of the, you know, greatest players, one of the idols. So I admired the way he plays.
At the times when I was junior he was, you know, the top of the world. I used to practice with him, because we had then, and still we have, the same manager.
I have a lot of respect for him. Maybe that played a role today in the match.

Q. Considering instability, can we say you were waiting for him to make his usual mistakes, but they were just not coming today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. This was one of the things that went wrong. I shouldn't just wait for the mistakes. I was supposed to go for the shots and play aggressive style that I always play.
But it wasn't my day.

Q. Which of these two matches against Marat hurts the most: getting completely crushed at the Australian Open or here where you're the No. 3 seed and have established yourself as a top player, losing to a No. 65?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I don't compare it at all. I mean, this first match we played was three, four years ago. I was still very young and it was my first Grand Slam. It was understandable at the time. He won this tournament. He was playing extremely well.
I cannot compare it. Now, I'm much more matured, better experienced player in general. But, you know, I don't -- I try to look at it as positive as much as I can. It's a loss, but it's a part of the sport.
You know, life goes on. What can we do? There is still a long way through.

Q. Just an observation, but you didn't appear to be wearing your normal brand of shoe today. Do you have an issue with the grass?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I have issue with the grass. I was wearing another brand of the shoe. This was agreement between adidas and myself. I had a lot of difficulties with the movement, especially in Queen's this year, and even in the past years.
I just tried to make -- we just tried to have agreement and the best possible solution. So I thank them for the support, because it was a big step for all of us. A bit risky, but it was the only way that I could imagine myself far in the tournament. This was the difference that I felt that we can improve on.

Q. Because you had the problem last year that forced you to withdraw?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, that was one of the reasons.

Q. Must be a little bit of a strange feeling. It's been a while since you lost this early in a Grand Slam.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What I'm going to do (smiling)?

Q. What are you going to do to regroup from here? Any lessons you've taken away from it at this point?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm going to probably stay another week and watch matches. No (laughter).
I'm going to go home - home sweet home.

Q. How will you regroup? What will you do?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'll rest a little bit. Without the racquet. I'll leave the racquets at home and I'll go somewhere many miles away.

Q. Safin has been No. 1 in the world. He played very well everywhere, but not that well normally on grass. He lost many matches in his life on grass. Do you think today he was playing extremely well or it was just you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was mostly me. You know, I said on the start that he was very solid in all sides. He was playing with not much unforced errors from the back, good return. But I wasn't doing anything to hurt him, you know. My serve, even when I had the high percentage of the first serve, it was going on his racquet. No angles, no precision whatsoever.
Yes, he was playing well today. He didn't play extremely well, but he was playing enough, you know, to win.

Q. How big of a chance do you give Safin at this Wimbledon? How big a chance do you give to the Russians at the Euro Cup, if you're watching?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Safin, if he plays this well, can get far. This is a question of the time and the day, so every match is different. You can't really predict what's going to happen, but I wish him well.
And Euro Cup, I hope Russia wins.

Q. Given the fact that you reached the semifinals here last year and your excellent results since, can you just sort for us how disappointing it is to be going out this early?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's quite disappointing, of course. A lot of expectations from my side and all the people that are following my career, of course, and the tennis lovers here in UK and worldwide.
But what can I do? This is just part of the sport, a loss. I just have to take the best things out of it and use it for the future. You know, certainly I expected to go far, because I know I have enough quality to do so. Last year I've been performing pretty good tennis on grass.
Finals of Queen's came up in the right moment, gave me a lot of confidence, boost up. But, you know, it can change.

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