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September 9, 2009
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
N. DJOKOVIC/F. Verdasco
7-6, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How good is it to be back in the semifinal of a Grand Slam?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it feels great. I mean, I haven't done that in the past three Grand Slams this year, so mentally was very important for me to overcome today's challenge and to be able to win quarterfinals and to get to the semifinals first time in the Grand Slams in 2009.
So now that I've done it I feel kind of a relief, and I hope I just can continue playing well and challenge eventually Federer if he gets to the semifinal.
Q. We saw Andy Murray yesterday come up a little bit flat. Didn't have much game to bring. Were you concerned about that in your game today? You struggled a little bit there in the second set today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I don't think we had a great first set. First set quality of the match wasn't its best. I've made a lot of unforced errors, he's made a lot of unforced errors, and I was lucky to get through in the tiebreak.
And then second set I still wasn't able to find the great, you know, rhythm, especially in the forehand side, and he used it. He stepped it in. He played very aggressive, and he deserved that second set.
I managed to come back, and that's what it matters. You know, I just tried to focus myself in the third set and work on some things. I returned more balls in on his serves, and I think serving well was as well one of the key elements in today's win.
Q. When he's on one of those hot streaks and playing at his highest level, what is your philosophy? Do you sit back and wait, or do you feel you have to react to that and do something different?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The dangerous thing about Verdasco is to let him take over the control of the match, because he's physically very strong and he's able to do a lot of things, especially from his forehand side, as we could see today. He improved a lot his backhand, so he stays much closer to the line.
He likes when the ball is coming a bit slower to him so he can, you know, do more things with it. That's why I tried to mix up the pace, you know, play some high balls and then fast balls to his forehand and try to just get him out of that comfort zone that he got in in the second set. I managed to do that.
Q. I understand you've been hosting children of 9/11 victims in your box. Can you talk about that, what that means to you, how it got started.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, I mean, we had this idea before the tournament, and I didn't want to talk about it, obviously. I think it's -- well, it's a gesture that I hope it means for them. I've been meeting, you know, four different guys, you know, in these two weeks.
I have been giving them some presents after the matches. Obviously we don't want to talk about the past and what happened. It's something that I have been going through, as well, something similar in my past, you know, through the war and all these things.
So I know what it feels like, so I just try to bring some smiles and make them enjoy. I hope that's what I did.
Q. Do they know who you are and what you've done on the court? Do they know you for your impressions or more for your tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I haven't asked them that. (laughter.)
I think that's -- the main thing is that they enjoy it. I think that the guy I met today was first-time watching live tennis match. It was quarterfinal of US Open, and certainly it was a fantastic feeling for him.
About the impressions, I don't know if they have seen it. But it's going on on the Internet for a while.
Q. When you say that you don't want to talk about it or you haven't wanted to talk about it, do you mean you don't want to make it seem like it's a publicity thing, make it genuine from the heart?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: About what?
Q. I think when you responded to that question you said, you know, I obviously haven't wanted to talk about it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, just because this is something that is negative to talk about, and I think it's a sad story from their side and from my side. So I guess in this moment we have no reason to talk about sad things, because, you know, we are here. We're trying to enjoy. We're young. They're young. They're trying to enjoy their life, and they came to tennis.
So this is the positive message. We don't want to, you know, get back in the past. What already happened, happened. It's life.
Q. Maybe it's just from the outside, but you seem more relaxed in this tournament than you've been. Is there any reason, or do you feel more relaxed?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I like playing here. You know, starting from the surface, which is quite suitable to my game, the fans, you know, the atmosphere, the entertainment, the show, I like it.
And the results that I've made in the past three years show how much enjoyment I have playing here. I had a lot of success, so that's probably the big reason why I continue playing well this year.
Q. At the end of the match you pointed to your box. How important is having your coaches during the last few weeks?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, support is something that is always welcome, especially in the big events like this. My coaches and all the people that are there, my girlfriend, my uncle, family members, friends, you know, they all have been with me throughout the US Open and throughout the all of my life.
So this is something that has been created throughout the years, these relations, this relationship I have with Marian. We've been working for four years already, and now starting to work with Todd Martin, as well.
So I always try to have a bunch of people around me, because then I feel better, and I can get as much opinions and as much thoughts as I can in order to progress.
Q. With the boos that you heard here last year after the Roddick match and all that, have you made an effort this year to get the crowd on your side? Are you trying to work with them, like the McEnroe thing the other night, just trying to get them behind you this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I obviously -- obviously the crowd is very important and plays a crucial role in big matches.
What happened last year I was saying many times this year already in the conferences was misunderstanding, and obviously something that we all learn from. I learned from my mistakes.
I mean, it's all right, as long as I realize the things that happen and try to take the best out of it, and then, you know, try to gain back the crowd. I hope that's what I did, because I feel that I'm enjoying it again much more. It feels like 2007, you know, when I played finals here and did all these crazy things, impersonating the players.
So it was really a lot of enjoyment playing with McEnroe the other night. It was something else. You know, it was unexpected. I promise it wasn't planned. It just came out. It was good.
Q. When you get deep into a Slam, how do you find that balance between the work you do between the matches? Who makes that call? Is it you? Is it Marian? Who makes the call about the amount of time you do spend preparing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, depending on the matches that I play and depending how my body feels, then we make a plan together. You know, they're the bosses. I have to follow what they say, you know. That's why they're there. They're coaches. It's their job to try to improve my game and make me feel good, and obviously all it's compromise.
Now we have an extra day to the semifinals. I think we're going to play golf. Todd is a great golfer. Generally we will practice a little bit, not too much.
Q. My name is Angela Buxton, and I've written a book called 303 Tips For Successful Tennis Players, together with a Serbian tennis coach called Nesa Simic, who I believe you might know.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. It is due for publication, which includes Serbia as well as worldwide early next year. As the leading Serbian tennis player, I would be very grateful if you could say something encouraging to young Serbian players and worldwide that would encourage them that could be used in the book.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Wow. I should carefully choose my next words obviously in the book. If you want, we can do it later one on one? Better? I can dedicate my time to you more. You want me to do it now and embarrass myself?
THE MODERATOR: He can think about it and give you the stuff you need.
Q. You are playing so well in this time, and the way you're walking on the corridor seeing all these ex-champion's photos, are you inspired by these photos?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think that's why they're there, the photos just in the corridor before the match, before the tennis court, so they can, you know, kind of motivate the players and just kind of give players something to want, you know, before they come on the court.
They need to be very focused, and obviously the champions that have won here can be a great role models and great examples to us.
Q. You kind of joked the other night when someone asked you about your relationship with Todd. What, you don't think that we make a good couple? Can you just talk a little bit about how different your personalities are? I mean, he seems quite serious, at least with a dry sense of humor. What you have learned from him in the time you've worked with him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I think it's obvious, and people can see that we're quite, quite different. You know, I like to speak and fool around, and he likes to take his time whenever he says anything to anybody. He likes to take his time.
He's a wiser man than me, absolutely, and more experience and had more intelligent. You know, I think we make a good combination. He's a great, great guy. What I like with him is that he's always looking for positives in anything we talk about, anything we work on.
He always tries to motivate me and find that confidence and prove to me that I have good quality and that I can improve more on the court. This is the person that I need, you know, with his -- you know, the facts are that he was top 5 player, played a couple of Grand Slam finals.
With that experience, obviously he can add up to, you know, the things that I can learn.
Q. Is there one specific area, besides the mental game, but one thing that perhaps even you're surprised he's helped with?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't think you can always -- you can ever get your game to the perfection, you know. Only if you're Federer. (laughter.)
I mean, you always try to improve on some things. You know, I play great from the baseline. You know, I have a solid serve, good return. But, you know, all the times it's ups and downs. In one period, forehand works and other, it doesn't.
So you always try -- it's a mental game. It's a mental challenge, and you obviously always have to be focused and try to work hard on the things and maintain that level of performance.
And serve and net play is something that I have been working with him lately a lot.
Q. Even though you won today, you looked sometimes frustrated by your game. Next round you may face the perfection of Federer. What do you wish to improve, would like to improve, between the two rounds?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, look, I show my emotions a lot on the court. I'm very temperament, and everybody is different. Sometimes I get too hard on myself.
But well, that's what I have done all my life, and, you know, I think it's been working okay. You know, even if I'm hard on myself I try to -- in the way I try to push myself and really make a stroke or something that has not been working better.
Q. What do you wish to make better for the next round?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I just need to be -- if I play with Roger, you know, we don't need to talk a lot about him. His records in US Open, we all know his style of the game. I have been playing against him many, many times and a lot of different kind of surfaces.
There is no secrets in each other's game, so I just -- it's a matter of good day. I hope I can have a good day and concentrate, and physically I'm going to have enough time to recover and be ready.
End of FastScripts