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September 5, 2011

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/A. Dolgopolov
7-6, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You went through six set points in that crazy tiebreaker. How was it for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was an interesting first set. I think it was exciting for the crowd to watch because it was very close. But I think it was game-wise an ugly first set because I wasn't happy with the way I played. You know, he was changing pace a lot. He was always sending me a different ball. It was really hard for me to adjust to it because of the conditions that we played in.
So that's why it was crucial for me to win the first set. You know, after I felt a bit more relaxed and I served well when I needed to, you know, played okay, played enough to win.

Q. On the first set, the tiebreak, do you attribute winning that more to your physical strength or your mental strength?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it's combination of both. But in the end it was more mental just to hang in there, you know, try to play right shots at the right time. This is one of the longest tiebreaks I ever played. It was certainly exciting to be part of it. But, you know, I knew that I need to win that set.
Yeah, I had a lot of opportunities. I missed a lot of easy balls. I think I wasn't moving well at the start. But, you know, on the brighter side, I lift up my level better in next two sets.

Q. Is it difficult to play slice backhand against Dolgopolov who plays also slice backhand? Do you know that he was losing 4-1 in the fifth with Cipolla?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, he's unpredictable player. He's kind of player that feeds on energy, as well, of the crowd I think. I guess the bigger the match is, the more crowd there is, you know, he feels better and he gets motivated.
He has very fast hands. He can serve well. He has a great running forehand. He's good in defense. He can change of the pace. Generally he's a very good player. He just doesn't have this consistency, you know.
So I knew in the back of my mind I needed to, you know, hang in there and try to wait for the opportunities. After I won first set, I felt that I have, you know, a little mental advantage over him, that I'm in a control.

Q. Everyone talks about the physical attributes that have made you No. 1. How would you assess your mental game, how it's improved over the past year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think mental strength you get over the years playing on the tour, getting experience, and using that experience in a right way. Physically out there, there is so many fit players. I mean, the game has changed tremendously. You know, top hundred players, physically there is not much difference between No. 78 in the world and No. 2, 3, 1, 5.
Everybody's working hours and hours on the court, off the court. It's much more dedication to the sport than it used to be, in my opinion.
But as you said, it's a mental ability to handle the pressure, to play well at the right moments, and that's why I think there is a certain difference with top-10 players.

Q. Were you annoyed by the crowd?

Q. What do you feel about the crowd?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I mean, they liked it. I think it was interesting first set, so it was great. It was packed stadium. It was a different experience because I haven't played on that court for a while. So it was nice. I enjoyed it.

Q. Rafa recently said that tennis at its heart is a game of dealing with emergencies. Today in the tiebreak you had an incredible emergency. Compare the Open with your third-round match at Wimbledon against Baghdatis where you hit your racquet and seemed to kick-start your game somehow.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I wouldn't compare it. But I would say that I think you always need to have, you know, as a top player, you're expected to win most of the matches you're playing. This is obvious.
So that's why there is an extra pressure on you. You cannot always perform the best. You can't always play as well as you want to. There are days where you don't feel great, your opponent is hitting the ball well, has nothing to lose.
I guess in my cases I always have won matches in Grand Slams where, you know, it's a big test, it's a big struggle, long hours spent on the court, long points. But in the end that's something that, as you said, gives me a kickoff start and gives me confidence, you know, for the continuation of the tournament.

Q. Were you made aware that the crowd for Louis Armstrong today almost snaked out of the grounds right across the other side of the courtyard? It was almost half a mile long to get into your court.

Q. Did anyone tell you that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it was probably because of the tiebreak in the first set.

Q. Before the match had even started.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't know. I didn't know. I didn't know about that.

Q. Apart from the Wimbledon queue, I don't think anyone has seen anything like it.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That's fantastic. I was happy to be there. I was happy to experience the Armstrong court again, as I said, after a while. Sometimes it's really nice, you know, to be on the smaller court where the crowd is closer to the court where you can feel them.
When you're taking a towel, you can feel them so close to you. I think those kind of matches off the center court are very exciting.

Q. Rafa, in his book, says if you keep grinding against Roger you can eventually wear him down, force him into making some errors, but against you there's really no backup plan. That's a pretty good compliment from a 10-time slam champ. I wanted your thoughts on that. And are you starting to feel that advantage before you even step on the court, that psychological advantage that you bring?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, first of all, I'm flattered to hear. Obviously he's a great champion, you know, somebody that's still on the top of the men's game and I think he still has a lot of Grand Slams to win. He's a great player and a great person off the court.
So, you know, we played so many matches between each other, us three, four - Murray, as well - mostly on the major events. It is rivalry, if you want to call it, that is I, think, bringing a lot of excitement to the sport.
I think whoever you play, your game plan is changing. You know, you cannot always have the same game plan for Roger, for Rafa, for Andy, you know, again depending on the surface. So you adjust to it with your coaches obviously before the match.
Second question I forgot.

Q. The psychological advantage. Are you starting to feel that now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said, there is this expectations from the top players to get far in any event, especially Grand Slams. And I've been carrying this burden, let's say, for a while because I was top three in the last four years and I know how it feels to get on the center court in any Grand Slam.
I know how it is to play the top guys in the big tournaments. I've got this, you know, necessary experience in order to know how to start a match and play well.
But, you know, with this experience and with the success that you have over the years, you obviously have a certain psychological advantage over your opponents in the opening rounds especially. You know, after, it gets tougher because you're playing top guys, and that's where just a couple points decide the winner.

Q. Can you talk about the impact of your parents on your life and on your tennis life. Is there anything you wish they had done differently with you when you were younger?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I am not one of the persons who likes to look back and regret on some things. Everything I have done or my parents or any members of my family have done for me, I'm very, very grateful for that. It's been tough times, you know, coming from a country that has had so much trouble.
If I didn't have their support, I don't think I would manage to get here. But, you know, that's why they're my parents. That's why they're my family. They're there to support. Their support is always welcome, is always needed.
Yeah, now I have two younger brothers that I hope that they will come one day to this seat.

Q. Is there any advice they gave you along the way that stands out in your mind?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there are many advices, you know. I can't think of one. Never give up. Just always try to look on a positive side with anything that happens because there is many obstacles on the way. But you always need to stay focused.

Q. Speaking of your homeland, your opponent Tipsarevic talked a lot about facing you. One of the things he talked about was whether it's harder or easier to face someone you're familiar with. What is your mental approach?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What did he say? (Smiling.)

Q. He said it's both easier and harder.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's strange feeling. You know, we are professionals. Certainly we both want to win the match when we play against each other. So you kind of forget about, you know, friendship. You put that aside.
You know, we never played Grand Slam, though. We never played best-of-five against each other, so it's going to be a first-time experience for both of us. I think it's his first quarterfinals ever in Grand Slam. He's playing the best tennis of his life. He's very confident.
But there is certainly this mentally strange feeling when you're playing somebody that is one of your best friends in the private life, as well. So you got to handle that, as well.

Q. Ana Ivanovic was noting that there will definitely be a Serbian into the semis. We were talking to her about Serbian tennis. She said that Serbians have quite a combustible character and maybe that's what is driving us. Can you comment on that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I agree. I agree. There is something in the mentality that obviously helps us to be here, helped us to be successful in what we do.
I think, as well, that the past and the life story that we have behind us, which is very similar, because we have all experienced the war, we have all experienced the tough times back home, struggles to have the right conditions to become a professional player.
But in the end, those things, when you turn around, make you appreciate life much more. So I think that's an advantage of the mentality.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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