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March 19, 2011

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/R. Federer
6-3, 3-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How important was that situation in the third set when obviously you have gone ahead and he'd come back to you at you? That next game, the fifth game in the third set, do you think that was a real turning point for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I agree. It was a very close match, so up to the last point you really couldn't say, you know, who's gonna take the win out of today's match.
A lot of emotions. You could feel the intensity and I guess the pressure with both of us, you know. I made some double faults on breakpoints, as well as he did in the next game.
I guess that fifth game in the third set was crucial, you know, to make a break, and then I played very solid.

Q. Can you talk about momentum, though? Because once you that he got the break that was a run of 11 straight points. Can you talk about momentum in the match and how important that is?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's really important to get the upper hand in some part of the match against the opponent like Roger, you know. And when you have the chance, you better use it, because he can come back easily. I could feel that.
You know, in start of the third I played two great games, had some chances, you know, with 15-30 I think in the third game, and then didn't use that and he came back. He broke me in love at 2-1.
So then it was crucial to win this break, you know, and not to give him opportunity to get upper hand there and to take the control over the match.

Q. When you've got a match as close as that, while you're playing it can you enjoy it, or is it just too much tension and focus and all that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I guess the matches between best players in the world, they're always very intense.
Me, as a very emotional player, I get very intense. I guess it's normal, you know, in some ways because we get to meet in the later stages of the tournament. It's always great encounters. It's exciting to be a part of very interesting and very long and good matches, you know, against these guys.
I think for the crowd, as well, just to see that, it's unbelievable, you know. I guess in some moments it's really not enjoyable, but you try to focus on each point and try to play the right shots at the right time and not really thinking about enjoyment that much.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about Roger? I mean, greatest player of all time, all the slams, No. 1 forever. But it's been a while since he's been No. 1, slams, had a great London, still a fabulous player. But can you talk about the level of his game? Are there any slight differences now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think my approach to the matches against Roger is maybe different than it was in the past two years. You know, right now I kind of have more self-belief when I step on the court against him. You know, before it was, you know, let's hope that I can play well. (Smiling.)
I think he's still playing great tennis. I don't see much difference, you know, than from in 2006 and 2007 when he was winning Grand Slams. He's still up there.
He's still, you know, one of the best players in the world. So you can't say that it's a huge difference from the Roger, no...

Q. You said the other day tennis is so mental, so does it come down to a mental science?

Q. What enabled you to gain that self-confidence when you play against him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, more wins, I guess, you know. With the time, experience comes, and you're more aware of the things that you should do on the court, off the court, you know, in order to prepare well for the matches. You learn more about your opponents. You're just better prepared, you know, and you just step in and you try to play your best tennis.
But now, you know, it's different. I guess it all comes with time.

Q. I'm sure that being No. 2 is not your ultimate goal, but the fact is you will be after this tournament. How does that make you feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It makes me feel great. It makes me feel very happy. It's I guess the crown for my achievements this year. I think I deserve it. I think I've played the best tennis of my life in last three months. I have been very dedicated, very professional, and I want to keep on going.

Q. With how good Rafa has been on clay, how important do you think tomorrow's match is in order for you to maybe catch him and be No. 1 this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, it's still, I think, very early to talk about that, because the difference with the points, you know, it's huge. It's just start of the year, so I have to play, you know, consistently well on each tournament, at least semifinals or finals, you know, if I want to have a shot at the No. 1, I guess, till the end of the year.
But it doesn't depend only from me, depends on the other guys, I guess. Tomorrow is a big challenge again; he's the best player in the world. He played I think incredible match today. He showed good-quality tennis.
I guess we both want the title, so let's see.

Q. How do you explain this streak? I mean, you won 19 matches in a row now, and you're going for your fourth tournament in a row. I mean, how do you explain? Is it just things fall together? I mean, is there something you have been doing differently? Is confidence level a factor? How do you explain it? Or do you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it all has -- I guess the success comes with time, you know, with hard work and dedication, as I mentioned before. I have just cleared some things up in my head, and managed to organize my life better on and off the court, and, I guess, you know, I was confident that I can have success with the right team of people around me who are doing their job great. I think I have the best team at this moment for me, and everything is coming into place.
I mean, the bottom line is that this is a very mental game. Confidence is probably the most important. And if you are in the momentum, you want to try to, you know, to keep that momentum going, keep that confidence rolling for you. You know, that's why the streak is there.

Q. This is the third time that you've beaten Federer in two months. Were you aware of him changing his game plan, changing his approach to playing you today because it's another hard court match? Or did you feel that he was trying the same kind of patterns, maybe tightening them up a bit, but still playing in the same kind of style as before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he was maybe going for the shots more today and he was hitting the backhands a bit more down the line and trying to mix it up. The surface is slower than it was in Dubai, let's say, when we played the last time, and he was trying to use that kick serve.
So we were testing each other, you know. First set I was the better player; second set he was the better player; we came into the third set very even, and then, you know, in just a couple of points, decide a winner.

Q. How do you prepare mentally to face Nadal tomorrow after such a big win against Federer today? Or hows does the game plan change?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have played Nadal many times, and many times in the late stages of the tournaments, especially in the semis and finals of the major events.
So I know how it feels like to be in the big stand or how it feels like to play him, so I will be prepared. I want this trophy as much as he wants it, so, you know, we'll both step into the court tomorrow, you know, wanting that win.

Q. Can you just go back to the US Open final? Because sometimes it seems like against Rafa, even playing as well as you played in that, he came through with the victory. How much of tomorrow is going to be mental against him ?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very much. As I said, I will repeat again, matches between the top players are always very close, and, you know, obviously everybody's hitting the ball well. Everybody is physically fit and practicing hours and hours every day.
But, you know, if you have this mental ability to stay strong, stay patient and confident, and just have belief in the right moments, then you get a win, you know. So I guess that will make the difference tomorrow.

Q. How has Nadal's game evolved on hard courts over the past couple of years?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Actually, the best tournament that I've seen him play on hard court was US Open. He was incredibly dominant in this tournament, you know, losing couple of service games in the whole tournament, and his serve was, I think, the key of his win there. I was struggling a lot with his serve.
We all know about his groundstrokes. You know, there's not much to explain there. He's the best baseline player in the world. Yeah, you know, if I have to, I have to be aggressive. That's the only way against him.

Q. You mentioned when you used to play Roger it was going out there and hoping you played well.

Q. When you've had two and now three wins against him, how good does this one make you feel? Because the thought was perhaps because you had won those last two matches you were slightly favored today. So to come through in all those circumstances in a big semifinal like this, how good does that make you feel in terms of where you are with your game at the moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you have to put, I guess, analysis and calculations aside, and try to repeat a game that I had against him in the last -- previous two meetings that we had, and that's what I did.
You know, I didn't really pay too much attention on who is favorite or, you know, No. 1, No. 2 rankings, things like that. I just wanted to take that match as another important match, of course, another big challenge, and, you know, it was very good.

Q. Could you talk about the yellow bird, the origami?

Q. Can you tell the story behind that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Well, it's the idea of my team members today, to, well, show our support in some ways, because now everybody's feeling devastated for, you know, images that are coming back from Japan.
So we are trying in the best possible way to kind of contribute with some support to this country.

Q. How do you maintain an intense rivalry with a guy you're gonna get on a plane with tomorrow night and go to South America with?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I want to talk to him, because whoever wins tomorrow has to lose in Colombia.

Q. You've obviously had a great start to the year, but to come into this event and to take out Roger - and if you're successful tomorrow, Rafa - how would that change your kind of confidence level?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it's obvious that my confidence is very high at this moment, you know. I will just have the same routine stepping on the court tomorrow with Rafa, and try to play my best game, you know. Nothing really special.

Q. Just getting back to Roger and what Neil was asking you, when you look at the difference between the matches you've played with Roger a few years ago and now, how much of it do you think is that maybe you've improved more than maybe Roger has in that time frame?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think the answer to that question was just five minutes ago where I said that, you know, I'm approaching these matches against Roger differently. You know, I have more self-belief on the court. I'm just taking my chances, you know. I'm not really trying to be passive in my game.
Yes, I do defend well, but, you know, I'm aware that if I have a few chances against Roger or Rafa, I have to take them and I have to step in. I guess that mentally maybe it's a different story, you know, nowadays than it was before.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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