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September 13, 2009

Novak Djokovic


R. FEDERER/N. Djokovic
7-6, 7-5, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is that guy a god or just a genius?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, I have a big respect for all he has done throughout the years, and obviously making 20, 21, 2, 3, consecutive semifinals in the Grand Slams is a result that nobody ever done in the history of the sport.
So definitely, you know, he's one of the best, even maybe the best player that ever played these games. But, look, today I think we both -- we both didn't play our best. We had the moments when we played some good shots. We had fun on the court. It was interesting to play this match.
I had the feeling that I was close all three sets, and it's just that when I get close, when I am able to get to the breakpoints or I'm up a break, I just start making some unforced errors.
And I don't want to mention the word luck, but I didn't have it today. That's why I'm a little bit disappointed.

Q. I know you did just say you didn't play your best, but you certainly played with your heart out there. Do you sort of feel that if you played any other human being in the world out there today the way you played that you'd be sitting here the victor?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's hard to say. I mean, it's hard to predict anything in this sport, in any sport. It's the semifinals of the Grand Slam. I'm playing a guy who won five consecutive Grand Slams -- US Opens.
So he's absolute favorite, and I was aware of that. But I believe that I could win, because last two years we have played we have quite close matches. I won against this guy, you know, four times in the past, so I kind of knew the way I should play.
But, you know, in these moments he comes up with some great shots. He comes up with very, very precise serves, which give him a lot of advantage, and that's why he's the best in the world. You've got to give him all the credit for that.

Q. Was that shot almost a metaphor for the match, the one at the end through the legs? Was that almost a metaphor for the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, look, you know, as I said, I get the feeling he plays more relaxed in the last couple of years, because now he became a father and got married and broke all the records.
He just gets on the court and he wants to play his best and win more. That's what makes him even more dangerous. That's why he plays even better.
I mean, that shot that he hit, you saw the reaction of the crowd. I mean, what can I explain?
But it was funny, on these shots, you know, you just say, Well done; too good. What can you do?

Q. What about your reaction? You've had several fun reactions. Here you're in the semis and you're having so much fun. How are you able to do that? It didn't look like you had much pressure on you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, believe me, I was trying to control my every nerves all the time. I'm kind of player who likes the emotions and very temperamental on the court. You didn't see a lot of racquet throwing, but it could have been a lot -- a lot -- today, especially because I knew that I was so close of winning all three sets, and then just a couple of points decided, you know.
But if you ask me if I had fun today and enjoy it, yes, I did, absolutely.

Q. Everyone likes to talk about your nice games, but there was one game when you were up 4-2 that you played terrible.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I did. That's exactly the game. I think that's the worst game I played all match. Who knows? If I was 5-2-up, a lot of things can change. If you win a set, it's a big advantage. You know, you could get the confidence. The other opponent starts being a little confused and gets out of the comfort zone.
But, you know, that's tennis. I have lost it. I had the opportunity and I didn't use it, so that's why I regret. But, you know, there is many more years to come.

Q. But also many times when you lose the point or that you're in trouble you look to your corner, where Federer doesn't do that. Don't you think that you look a little bit more unsecure [sic] because of that? I mean, it's like you're not really convinced that you can do it. Every time you get close, and then something happens.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, every player has a different routine, has a different way of getting himself motivated on the court. I like to have a look in my corner and have the support of my closest ones, and that's what I was getting.
But sometimes in the moments of frustration as well, I look at them and just say, Can somebody come and help me out, you know? (laughter.) Let's hit two against one or something.
But, yeah.

Q. Novak, on court today you obviously had some moments of resignation, What can I do? But also in your career you've beaten Roger and you've won a Slam and you're ranked highly. Do you feel a fire that you can be No. 1, or is it a little bit of an acceptance that just I'm playing in the Roger Federer era and it's kind of tough?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as you said, winning a Grand Slam and winning against most of the top players that are active right now gives me enough hope and enough reason to believe that I can be No. 1.
As I said, you know, you can't rely on one tournament, one Grand Slam. You have to play consistent throughout the whole year, and that's the key. I mean, when you are playing and competing against the player like Roger who played 22 consecutive semifinals of a Grand Slam, then that proves that -- that proves enough.
I don't like to pay attention too much in rankings, points up, down, dropping, winning. You know, it's too confusing. So I just try to play my best tennis and remain this high quality of performance throughout the year.
I know that losing third round of French Open is going to hurt me a lot in the rankings. You know, that's one of the costs that maybe I dropped in place. If I manage to come to the semifinals or more in the French, maybe I would be third or second in the world. Who knows?
This is all I think just the details, and I know that I deserve to be there. I hope for a better performance next time against Roger. If I get opportunity to play again in this late stages of the Grand Slam, I'll try to do my best again.
You know, you have to keep on trying. It's not a matter of how hard you fall. It's a matter of how quick you stand up.
So I try to...

Q. If the tennis gods came to you and said, Novak, please, please, give us one weakness in Roger Federer's tennis game, what would that be?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, well, look, he's definitely not unbeatable, you know. He's most consistent, he's most concentrated, mentally strongest guy on the tour, and his movement is unbelievable. There is many, many things you can say nice about him. But, you know, there are some disadvantages, as well.
You know, he gives you a lot of slice returns back so you have time a little bit more to open up the court and things like that.
But, you know, he's always there. That's what makes him better than all the others, you know, because he plays every point, regardless what the result is, you know.

Q. As someone who has won a Slam and knows what it takes, how deep now do you think the tour is in players who can win a Slam? Has Del Potro moved up into that category? Is Murray still in it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Definitely, yeah.
Del Potro is showing his best tennis in last couple of months, and you've got to give him credit for that. He's still a young guy, but extremely moving well for his height and all-around player, as well. Very strong serve and great consistency from the groundstrokes.
I think he has a good chance against Roger if he plays his best. Why not? I mean, it's different when you -- you know, when you didn't win a Grand Slam, then you maybe face a little mental challenge on the late stages of the Grand Slam, like maybe Murray did last year in finals US Open, and throughout this year, as well.
Definitely Del Potro, Murray, Roddick, these guys can still win -- you know, are in the group to win the Grand Slams, and many others, as well.

Q. As great as you are, do you ever look across...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, thanks. (laughter.) There you go, somebody said something nice. (laughter.)

Q. But looking over the net at Roger, are you ever amazed at his consistency and what he can continue to do?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think in the matches against Roger, it's a matter of -- well, from my perspective, it's a matter of self-belief.
You should just hang in there. That's why I tried -- I was two sets down, and it's hard when you're two sets down against a player like Roger who basically hasn't lost a match throughout the whole -- his career, when he was two sets up in a Grand Slam.
So, you know, it's kind of hard to stay there, but I was trying to push myself and kind of wait for opportunities. And when they have been given to me, I didn't use them. Again. That's what is a little bit disappointing. You know, you're right there. You have to make an extra step, and you don't.
And then if you get a chance, one chance, you've got to use it. Otherwise you don't get any.

Q. Does it hit your brain at all? Did you think about that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, certainly I did. You know, kind of stopped there, yeah.

Q. Before you said that none of you two played at his best today. What in your opinion today Federer didn't play at his best? What was missing more than you expected?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He was missing a lot of returns, I guess. But he was all the time -- you know, whenever he need today serve well, he did. Whenever he needed to defend well from the forehand side or backhand side, that's what he did.
He used the opportunities. He puts that extra pressure on me when on the break balls, or set points he gets to the net. So these things make difference.

Q. I lost count of the number of times you challenged correctly. How grateful were you to have the replay system, and how concerning is it that so many calls were...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don't know what happened today really with the line judges. It's unbelievable. And with the chair umpire. I mean, how many times they have missed, and not just close. It was like...
So I was supportive of challenge Chase Review since it came to the sport, and I think it's great for the tennis players, great for the crowd. It's interesting.
For the chair umpire, not really. (laughter.) They don't like to see when they made a big mistake. But, you know, at least it gives us opportunity to see if they're right or not.

Q. A lot of people would suggest that as a player gets older and they have children, you know, family and maybe they've got the records and things behind them that perhaps maybe they become complacent. And yet you suggested earlier that you think that Roger has actually developed perhaps a calmness about him as a result of that.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think that's obvious the way he's playing. Starting from Madrid, he has lost maybe one or two matches. I mean, he's maybe playing the tennis of his life.

Q. So do you think that that mindset, having the records behind him and...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that's my opinion, but you've got to ask him the way he feels. I mean, he's going to tell you better probably. It's just my opinion on things. The way he stands on the court, the way he approaches the matches, it's different, you know. It's like more relaxed.

Q. Maybe you should get married. (laughter.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Pointing.) She's here. Look... Now, you give her reason enough to ask. She's going to expect something in the next couple of weeks. (laughter.) I don't know.

Q. Since you're in New York anyway, you seem to be a student of the game as well as being a great player. Are you going to come here tomorrow to watch the final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, look, I don't like -- this is one thing that I don't like. When I get out of the tournament, I don't like to watch anymore. I don't like not being there.

Q. You're leaving New York in a different relationship with the fans than you left last year, and that's been, I think, a really conscious and admirable effort on your part. Do you think you understand more now what part of your job involves sort of almost a responsibility to be a performer in that sense, to have a bond with fans, no matter where you are in the world, whether it's New York or Paris or London or anywhere?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's very important from my standpoint, and I think any professional athlete has to have the good relationship between him and the fans.
Fans are the ones who are coming to -- paying the tickets to come to see you and support you. They look up to you as a role model, and they appreciate what you do. They respect you as a successful athlete, so you've got to give them something in return.
This is a fact. And the crowd here, you know, they love entertainment, and I have a feeling that I might even got the best relationship with this New York crowd throughout last couple of years of any tournaments.
I just feel great, you know. They have been supporting me. And when you have crowd behind you, it's a big advantage, you know. It kind of lifts you up in the bad moments, and it's very important.

End of FastScripts

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