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April 19, 2013

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/J. Nieminen
6‑4, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You looked sharp today.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It was great.  Very solid from back of the court.  Played with the right intensity from the start of the match till the end.  That's a big step forward for me today comparing to the first two matches in every sense.
I finally got a great feel on the clay.  Hopefully I can maintain that level tomorrow.

Q.  Before the tournament you were worried you couldn't even play.  Now you're on the verge of another final.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, it's great.  It's very positive news.  I didn't feel ankle was bothering me today.  From the start of the match I was warmed up well.  I was right there on the court.
We had a lot of long rallies.  He played very good, very aggressive.  He's a quality player.  He beat Del Potro and Raonic 7‑6 in the third.  He was a bit tired, but still he didn't show that he was lacking that freshness.  He was hitting the ball really well.
It was important to win the first set.  Then I felt more comfortable.

Q.  Can you cast your mind back to playing Rafa in the French Open final last year and perhaps commenting when that match was over we wouldn't see him again for seven months, and back now we think of you as a big challenger for Rafa in the clay court season.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, that was as far as I went in Roland Garros, playing finals.  It was the first finals in Paris.  He was two sets up and a break.  Didn't look too good for me.
But then change of conditions and then I started playing really well.  It was unfortunate we had to continue the next day because I felt I was on the roll.
All in all it was a great experience, a great match for me, gave me a lot of confidence obviously for the rest of that season and also beginning of this clay court season.
I know I can play well.  I know I can really beat anybody on this surface.  That's a reason to have the high confidence level, to always believe in my abilities.  Again, it's just the first tournament.  French Open is still far away.  There are still some big tournaments on the road.

Q.  I think you've never lost to Fognini.  First Masters semifinal for him.  What do you expect?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I expect him to play as well as he did today.  I have to be prepared for quality rallies, a player who has won against some top players here, a player who feels good, is going to have nothing to lose, motivated to play well in front of his Italian supporters that are many here.
Again, I am encouraged by my performance today.  As I said, I elevated my game definitely since the last two matches.  That's something, you know, that I can use in the next challenge.

Q.  Everybody has to play injured, misses some time.  For Rafa's comeback after seven months away from the game, lost one match since he's come back, are you surprised by that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Not so much surprised because, I mean, he had so much time to rest and prepare.  Of course, he was spending a lot of time trying to recover his knee and everything.
But, look, he came back, played on clay, the surface he loves the most.  He played well.  We expect from Rafa always to play on such a high level.
But he's there where he wants to be.  Again, you know that he's the ultimate challenge on clay.  There's still a long way to go.  We'll see.

Q.  Reflecting on the decision you made to play here, having gotten a few matches under your belt, could this be a very good decision for you to have come here and got some matches?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I believe it's a good decision.  I haven't made it myself, just by myself.  It's all the team consultation, trying to analyze, be wise in decision making.  The medical team has helped me.  All the people who are close to me, who know me well, have advised me that I can play.  That was an indication for me that I can really be a part of this tournament that I wanted with all my heart.
So I'm really glad that things are going in the right direction.

Q.  Rafa was watching you playing your first round the other day.  Is it a special rivalry still going on between both of you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I mean, we watch each other's matches.  I don't watch only his match, as he does.  It's our job to try to see and analyze all the players to see how they play.  It's our life.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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