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September 7, 2009

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/R. Stepanek
6-1, 6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Just for the record, could you tell us how long you've been working on your Johnny Mac?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I didn't work it at all. As I was saying here before, it just comes if the moment is right. It comes spontaneous. I think the moment was right now.
It actually was quite funny and the crowd loved it. That was the most important thing. And Johnny, of course, made a small favor coming down. It wasn't easy playing in jeans and suit and collared shirt, but it was a lot of fun.

Q. Many players, highly ranked players, have been saying they're not thinking about the final, they're not thinking about the semifinals. But from the very start you said, I'm looking for something big. I'm looking for the big one. How do you feel about that now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I always try to have highest possible ambitions. To some people obviously it didn't look realistic and it doesn't look realistic, but I try in that way to motivate myself and to always put the highest possible goals in order to perform my best on the court, and that's the way it was all my career, and that's the way it is now.
I think I have been winning against most of the top players, and I'm absolutely aware of my quality. Now it's just a matter of a good day and good self-belief at a certain day, certain moment, and if I can play the way I played tonight, I think I can win against anybody.

Q. You played a classic match against him here a few years ago. How important was it to get off to a really strong start tonight? Was this your best match in however long?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I had memories, and we've been having -- I have been talking about it with a lot of people. That was one of the epic matches of the US Open last 10 years, and one of the longest, maybe the longest match I ever played in my career.
So I tried not to have the same thing again. I tried to be strong and focused and aggressive from the start and take the control over the match. I just did everything right in the first set, especially, tactically-wise. I was quick. I was moving well covering most of the court and getting a lot of returns in, which was I think important, because he has a quite good serve which wasn't serving him that well tonight. He felt pressure because I was returning really well.

Q. Is this Major more meaningful for you because you've been to the final here, and also because the first three Majors of the year maybe you didn't play to your level or expectation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'm here to reach the semifinals in a Major. Having done that this year, it was different the last couple of years where I have played my best tennis in the Major in the Grand Slams. And that wasn't the case this year, but, you know, I have been playing really well in some other events.
So I had some ups and downs, but I believe I can get far in the tournament the way I was playing, first two rounds and today was very satisfying. I, as I said, need to have a lot of self-belief and confidence, obviously which plays a big role in the late stages of the Grand Slams.
I am playing Fernando Verdasco who has been playing maybe the tennis of his life this year. He's gained a lot of strength. He feels confident on the court. He hits the ball very well. He improved his game a lot generally comparing to the last couple of years.
So it's not going to be easy, absolutely not. But I believe I can get through it.

Q. Obviously it's a sporting competition and the goal is to win. At the same time you're a charismatic player. New Yorkers love entertainment. Do you try to bring a little bit of that in it? How important is that for tennis to show that players are entertainers and athletes, as well?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, sure, I think we all have to contribute in a way, but I can't speak in the name of the other players, because everybody has a different personality, different point of view, different routine.
They do -- somebody likes to just be focused on the court 100% and don't do anything else when he's officially there.
But I, you know, I like to entertain, I like to entertain the crowd. That makes me happy in a way, as well. What I've done 2007 with those impersonations and tonight playing with Johnny Mac and having fun, I think that's what the crowd want, and especially in this hours, these night matches make this tournament very special.

Q. Are you more comfortable with night matches than with day matches because of the sun that has affected you in the past?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you can say, yeah, that I react maybe a little strange in the heat, but I have been playing tennis for so many years, and I just -- I just have to look at the day match and the night match equally. I can't make any difference.
Certainly there are some advantages and disadvantages of the night matches, but, you know, I have to perform my best during the day, as well.

Q. Tactically, what kind of matchup do you anticipate with Verdasco? He has such a great forehand. You can play offense or defense. What do you expect, just the type of tennis that it's going to take to beat him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said, he improved his game drastically from last year. Forehand is obviously his strength and his weapon in the game. He's going to try to move me around the court and get a lot of free points there.
But I just -- I guess I have to stay a bit closer to the line, because I cannot be able to give him opportunity to do, to have time to do whatever he wants with that shot. So I just have to be aggressive and hope for the best.

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