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October 11, 2013

Novak Djokovic


N. DJOKOVIC/G. Monfils
6‑7, 6‑2, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Were you feeling initially comfortable at the start?  The first two service games you dropped.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Unexplicably I started serving quite bad, but not many unforced errors.  It happens.  I mean, I was preparing for this match as well as I prepare for every other.  It's just sometimes that you start off slowly and you're not feeling the ball as much.
But on the positive hand, I made two breaks also on his serve, so I kind of got into the rhythm.  I was serving better as the match was going on.
I mean, today was a very physical match and very intense.  Both of us, we played many rallies.  I knew coming into the match that he's going to run for every ball and he's going to make me play an extra shot.  Sometimes I was even surprised with the balls that he's getting back, even though it seemed that he's on an opposite side, but he always makes it.
As I said, very physical, but I'm glad that I made it through.

Q.  A lot of players have said the place where they feel the most culture shock is in Asia.  You seem to feel quite comfortable here.  Talk about your relationship with Asia.  Has it taken time or was it straight off?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's a fact that it's a totally different culture than what we have in Europe.  But we're all people.  We all understand each other.  If we don't speak the same language, then you can speak with body language, I guess, in some situations.
I guess a smile and a positive energy unlocks every door.  So I try to enjoy my stay here in China.  Over the years, I had lots of success.  The number of people that are following this tennis tournament and myself is increasing every year.  So I try to feed on that support and love that they give.
They have a big passion for sport in general.  I think Chinese people do really show their appreciations for what the athletes are doing coming into their country and performing on a high level.  So that's something that is always in the back of my mind.
When I play, I want to play my best because I know they come here, they put their effort into supporting you, and I try to give them back.

Q.  Each time when he was arguing with the umpire, tied up his shoestrings, how could you concentrate on the game?  Do you think it's all about mental in the game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it was obvious that he was running out of breath and he needed a little bit more time to recuperate.
But we had a lot of long rallies.  As I said, it was a very physical match.  He's one of the best movers around, he's very athletic.  But physically he's obviously struggling on the court.
Sometimes he was taking too much time.  But I was trying just to focus on what I do.  In the end of the day I won the match, and that's what matters for me.

Q.  There's been a lot of talk about the development of tennis in China.  One of the aspects of that is the challenger circuit within China.  Can you talk about your experience on the challenger circuit in Europe and your thoughts on what needs to happen in China to help build the game here.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, just looking at the revolution of all the sports here in China, it's quite recent.  Also the football came from Europe to China not many years ago, like 15 or 20 years ago that it started to pick up in popularity.  Now it's actually one of the most popular sports around the country.  Basketball.  Now we have tennis.
It is a process that takes time.  Obviously you can't really expect to have top men's tennis players overnight.  But it's obvious that the bigger the amount of tournaments, the more possibilities for the local players to prove themselves and to eventually get a chance to be at the ATP rankings.
It really helps when you have in such a big country more tournaments in different categories of professional tennis so you can try to be successful in every level and slowly get up the ladder.
Again, there is not a big tennis tradition in this country, as there was also no big tennis tradition in Serbia, where I come from.  But for us it happened that way that we all kind of succeeded, four or five players, at the same time.  You have every once in a while individual cases where somebody succeeds with a strong willpower and desire.
Generally it's much better to have the system, an organization in a certain sport, that can help at least in the first steps of the development of the player to kind of give him that push towards the professional world.

Q.  I noticed that you are very good at managing your mental conditions when the situation was not in your favor.  Sometimes you yelled at yourself.  Could you tell us how did you adjust your mentality during the match and then win the match.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it's very intense when you're playing a top player at this level.  Things during the match can go the wrong way for you.  But what is important is to stay as mentally tough as possible at that point and believe that you can win.
So I've had so many different situations in my career similar to this one that I was down, losing a set, many, many times in the last 10 years.  I think that amount of matches has brought me the necessary experience that actually helps in these particular situations.

Q.  Looking ahead to the semifinal against Jo‑Wilfried Tsonga.  Your thoughts on the match.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  We haven't played for a while.  It's going to be a tough one.  I mean, he has had a few months' break because of his injury.  He came back.  He played finals at I think one tournament in France.  Now he's playing really well in this tournament.  He hasn't dropped a set.  He's been winning comfortably his matches.
It's always a challenge when you play such a big and efficient server.  The match today could maybe help me in that way, so I can know what's kind of expected of me because they both have very explosive movements, big serves, getting lower balls back, very athletic.
Hopefully I can raise the level of my game when it's needed tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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