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March 15, 2014

Novak Djokovic


7‑5, 6‑7, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You want to talk a little bit about the second set?  Looked like you had the match, and then things in your serve didn't quite pan out.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, it's never easy to play John who is if not "the" best, but definitely the top three best servers in the game.  He's the tallest guy next to Karlovic we have in sport.  He has a great technique.
So when he's using that height, the angles that he hits are incredible.  So it's very difficult to return, and sometimes he can hit really, really good from any side of the court, especially with the forehand.  He knows how to use the court positioning.  He opens himself an opportunity to hit inside out forehand or inside in.
With that serve obviously he can win against anybody on a good day.  I thought I returned really well today and allowed myself to have a bunch of opportunities on his service games.
Then, you know, twice I had chance to finish it out and I played two bad games and he played an incredible tiebreaker.  And, you know, when you get to the tiebreaker with John Isner, whoever you are, you're not a favorite (smiling).
I just tried to hang in there, stay mentally tough when I lost the second set, and played a great third.

Q.  It looked like after you lose those two games, lose the tiebreak, and then I think there was a backhand down the line, and then the racquet, let the racquet go.  Did you have to just kind of get it out and then you regrouped?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:¬† Yeah, well, it's frustrating.¬† Definitely when you have the opportunities that I had in the second set to close it out, and just ‑‑ I managed to regroup, you know, even after that reaction.
I just didn't let my concentration drop for, you know, for a long time.  I already next point I was back in the game where I need to be.

Q.  Your thoughts on playing Roger tomorrow.  Do you think that Roger has kind of a comeback right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, he didn't have a great 2013 by his standards.  This year he's playing like he played for most of his career, and on a very high level.  He played great in Dubai.  We had a tough, interesting match in semifinals.
Whenever we play each other it's always a huge challenge for both of us, and very few points can decide the winner.
I do not expect anything less tomorrow.  I just hope for myself that I will be able to perform on a high level, because I'm going to need to do that in order to get a chance to win against him.

Q.  Do you prefer to play him on a rather slow court like here or prefer to play on fast courts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, I mean, in a way it's better for me it's a bit slower because he likes faster courts.
But, again, he doesn't have a bad record here.  Four titles, you know.  I don't think it makes too much difference for him.  It this year it seems like he has more confidence in his backhand, goes for his shots more.
It's Roger, and you know what to expect from him.  He's always in the high level, especially in the finals.

Q.  You played against Roger a bunch of different times in both of your careers, either high or going through lower times.  Does it always feel the same presence across the net when it's Roger, or does it depend a little bit on recent results?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:¬† No, it's more or less the same.¬† Every single match that we play against each other is always at a later stages of tournaments because, you know, we both‑‑ we're at the top of the men's game for last seven, eight years.
So it's always tense.  It's always emotional.  It's always close.
I don't think that especially in the last 15 matches we played against each other there was a clear favorite, I would say.  So we played a lot of great, great matches in Grand Slams and Masters Series events and tournaments.
I look forward to it.  It's always a challenge in every way for me to, you know, win against Roger.

Q.  When you are getting prepared to play Roger, what is that sense like?  Are you just so hyper or anxious, or do you necessarily have to keep a lid on things and try and keep things on an even keel, either him or Rafa or Andy?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  No, it's mixed emotions, in a way.  But, you know, it's not the first time I play him.
So I know what to expect on the court.  Of course, I have a team of people that analyzes his game.  We talk and we try to prepare as best as we can.
I do have my own routines for the matches regardless who I play against.  Always the same.  I keep the same routine and prepare myself.

Q.¬† After a hard‑fought match like this, will you have any issues with recovering mentally or physically going into tomorrow's match with Roger?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I don't feel that I'm exhausted.  I haven't played many matches this year, so I worked very hard on the practice courts and I got myself in a great physical shape.  That's something I'm sure I can rely on in tomorrow's match.

Q.¬† You have always had great success here, but we're not used to seeing you play a lot of three‑set matches.¬† You have had four out of five matches go three.¬† What's your take on the way you're playing now?¬† Maybe struggles you're having we're not used to seeing you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It was three matches, not four (smiling).
No, I mean, look, I can't always expect myself to win straight sets and be dominant every single year.  I mean, there's so many players out there who are working as hard as I do, and they want to win as much as I do.
You know, it happens that you have opponents who just play really well.  Like Cilic, for example, the other night played fantastic tennis.
It's normal.  There are players who step on the center court and don't feel like they have much to lose.  So they are going for their shots.  It's a lot of pressure always kind of expecting from yourself and other people from you to perform at the high level consistently and always win in straight sets.
You know, the win is a win, and in the end of the day, I'm very happy with the way I overcome, you know, the mental challenges this week and manage to arrive to the finals.  For me, that's already a big success.
I'm going to hopefully win the title tomorrow, but, you know, already it's been a great week for me.

Q.  You could say in a way our sport is about big performances on big stages.  Can you reflect for a minute on sort of the art of big match play and go a little deeper in your preparations?  Is it a matter of ramping up or stepping back?  How important are the Xs and Os?  Can you just focus on that, reflect on that, please.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Are you referring to the match tomorrow, like how do I prepare for that?

Q.  Yeah, and for slam finals.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Big matches?

Q.  Yes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, obviously, there is a certain difference.  As I said before, I have generally my routine that I respect with the team and the way I prepare myself.  I do not try to change that significantly because of, you know, because it's a Grand Slam final.
Of course, mentally and emotionally there is difference, and you feel that.  You feel that excitement.  Now it's a matter of experience and mental also strength for you in order to kind of channel that excitement into positive energy rather than negative.
You can easily get carried away.  I have experienced everything in my life on the court mentally and before the matches.
I think that a lot to do with the result and with the outcome on the court has the preparation before that.  So you need to get yourself ready, because then when you know you have done everything in your power to get yourself the most prepared possible, then you feel mentally a certain relief.  You know you're confident because you have done everything.  You know, you haven't changed any kind of routine.

Q.  In team sports in this country, especially in baseball, so much data is being used in terms of analyzing opponents.  You were talking about what your team does analyzing.  How much data do you use in terms of statistics, or do you just go by feel, how you're doing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, the technology nowadays has evolved so much, and there is a lot of interesting programs.  Obviously sports science is something that I really like and I'm interested in, and I support and I have friends and some, you know, people around my team who are trying to always kind of come up with some new ideas, with some creative programs that are able to, you know, to improve my game for this small edge or percentage that is always of course welcome and needed on the high level.
So, yeah, we do use some certain technology, and, you know, we try to analyze the opponents as best as possible.  Of course we also review all of the matches that I have played against my next opponent in this specific tournament and all the matches in the previous years.

Q.  Now with you and Roger in the final, it's going to be 28 out of last 29 Masters events won by one of the big four guys.  What do you think that says about the importance you guys do place on these Masters?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, sure.  I mean, look, top four guys had the most success in Grand Slams and Masters 1000 events because we value these tournaments.  It's the most important ones.  And not just Grand Slams but also these Masters tournaments.
We give really our best in order to win, because they do not just bring points and prize money.  It's about really the importance of the tournament, you know, value.  You have the best players in the world participating in the event and you want to do well.
You know, I was saying how much Indian Wells does for the sport.  Every year now with the Stadium 2 and improved facilities, it can bring only positives to tennis.
So I really hope that ATP and all of us together, tournaments and players, we can work towards some kind of improvement in general for the ATP events.  Because there is a lot of room, you know, a lot of potential that we can grow as tournaments and as an association.

Q.  More tournaments keeping up with this one?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, exactly.  Why not?  Why not let others compete and grow?  Because I have a sense that there has been a little holdback on the tournaments because they don't want one tournament to stand out in prize money or facilities and so forth, and that's why the process is a bit slower.
But there is no reason for that to be happening still.  I mean, why not allow the ATP tournaments to grow and even overcome the Grand Slams?  Yeah, there is a tradition.  There is a history, of course, and I respect that, you know, absolutely.
I'm aware of my sport.  But, you know, we are part of ATP.  This is our organization.  And why not, you know?  You know, in these modern times, why not allow the tournaments in places in the world where they love tennis, where they want to have a big tournament, why not open the tournament market and let them compete.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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