An Interview With.. Novak Djokovic | 2018 US Open Tennis Championships (QF)

US OPEN

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Novak Djokovic

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/J. Millman

6-3, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you tell us what was going on with the tablets?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Right in the end? Misunderstanding.

Q. Were they salt tablets?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I mean, I can’t talk about it.

Q. What was your reaction when you saw Roger lost so you don’t have to play against him?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, I was, I think, alongside many other people, anticipating the match against Federer, and it was a surprise to see Millman win the match. But I watched the second part of the match, and, I mean, Roger was not playing well. It was not his day. He was missing a lot.

But Millman is the kind of a player that makes you miss the balls, you know, and makes you win the point, earn the point. He doesn’t miss a lot himself, so he just runs left, right, gets a lot of balls. Very slow conditions, slow balls, and he just gets a lot of balls back.

So in a way, tactically, you’ve got to kind of find the right balance between, you know, being patient but constructive in the point, but at the same time, be aggressive and take the chance when you have a shorter ball. It’s easier said than done, especially these kind of conditions.

Q. A lot of times after a big upset, the winner comes back and has a letdown in the next match. Clearly you didn’t have a letdown, especially in the second set. Incredible rally, 3-3 at deuce, you sort of buckled and sort of went down to the ground. Curious what happened there and what you were thinking.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was not thinking about anything. I was just thinking how long does it take me to get to the towel and whether I can get enough air for the next one, next point.

As I said on the court, I really have respect for him, you know. I thought his kind of approach and mindset even before Roger’s match, match against Roger and match against me today, he showed respect to us, but he said, I’m going to go out and I’m going to play. I’m not gonna play, you know, to satisfy the crowd and make it a nice-looking match. I just want to win.

Credit to him for saying that and coming out and really backing that up with a performance. I mean, he’s a great fighter. You know, just all-around player. I think he has had probably the tournament of his life and a match of his life against Roger.

He made me run and he made me earn my match today, earn my win.

Q. You were watching Roger so you saw Roger probably sweatier than you ever saw him before?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.

Q. Tonight Millman had to leave the court. Is this the sweatiest tournament you have ever been involved in? Is the locker room stinkier than usual?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know. What happens in locker room stays in locker room, I guess, that kind of thing. I’m not able to talk about it (smiling).

But definitely, yeah, I personally have never sweat as much as I have here. Incredible. I mean, I have to take at least 10 shirts for every match. It’s literally after two games you’re soaking, you know. And Roger, you know, you mentioned him. He never sweats that much. But, you know, we saw him couple nights ago.

And I asked the chair umpire whether they are using some form of ventilation or air conditioning down at the court level side, and then he says that he’s not aware of it, that, you know, only what comes through the hallway type of thing. I think that this tournament needs to address this. I mean, because whether it’s night or day, we just don’t have air down there. It feels like sauna.

I don’t know what to add to that, you know. Obviously the roof, is fantastic to have the roof. We, as players, are grateful that we have the roof, because then the rain will not interrupt the matches and matches will go on on two courts, which is great. But, you know, I think that with so many players retiring that first round, first day or second day, and so many players struggling to breathe, especially on the center court, which, you know, doesn’t, there is no circulation of the air at all, especially court level.

So I think that’s something to really think about, consider and address.

Q. You next face someone, unlike tonight’s opponent, a person you have played many times and you have had great success. What has been the key to your success against Nishikori? What do you think the key will be in your next matchup?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I played him once I think since I changed to Lacoste from Uniqlo, so I think Uniqlo was the key of the success (smiling).

That was a very bad joke. Yeah, it’s 1:00 a.m., guys. I’m sorry. I’m just trying to make this interesting.

Anyway, he’s got one of the best two-handed backhands in the game and very quick. If not “the” quickest, then one of the quickest players on the tour. Has phenomenal footwork. But, you know, I have played him recently in quarters of Wimbledon. Tough couple, first two sets. Then after that I felt like third and fourth I played very well. I raised my game.

But, you know, we faced each other many times in different tournaments. I have lost — probably the biggest match I lost against him was here back in 2014, I think, in semis. But he loves playing here obviously.

He had a tough one today against Cilic and managed to pull that, you know, prevail in that match, which was quite impressive.

You know, he’s known to be a very disciplined guy. Works hard. Very talented. Has got Michael Chang in his corner. Has a very good team. Good working ethics. I think he was challenged a lot with injuries throughout his career. That hasn’t helped him, you know. But when he’s on, he’s definitely a top-5, top-10 player. There is no doubt he’s won big tournaments, been in the final stages of slams and he has experience. I’m expecting a tough one.

Q. About the match against Nishikori, once you explained the way he plays makes you more concentrated. Do you think that his play style is kind of good matchup against you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we had some matches where I won in straight sets, but we had, you know, some, a lot of matches, especially on clay courts where it went the distance where a couple of points really decided the winner. In Rome we played couple matches there. This year he was close to be the winner of that match.

I mean, I can’t really say he’s a great matchup for me. I have a very good head-to-head score against him. But you’re right, because he plays so fast, he makes me more alert from the first point, because I know I have to be at my best in order to compete with him from the baseline.

Q. The winner of this tournament, do you think he can walk away saying he won the toughest US Open in history with the conditions, the weather, and all the other factors?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, out of respect to all the guys that played, you know, decades ago, I can’t really say in the history. I mean, you guys will probably know that.

Q. Well, in your generation.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: But, you know, from my experience, and I can only talk about myself, this has been definitely the toughest US Open in the last, you know, ten years that I have played in in terms of conditions, yeah.

 

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