N. DJOKOVIC/K. Nishikori
2-6, 6-1, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: We’ll do a short one tonight. First question, anybody?
Q. You will make semifinal after 11 months. And after one year, you will meet again Rafa. What means for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it means a lot to me to be able to play semifinals of the tournament again. It’s been a year, as you said. I think the last semifinals actually was here — or, no, probably before Wimbledon. Small tournament.
So I mean, you know, this is what I was looking forward to. This is what I was hoping, you know, to achieve.
Obviously, I don’t want to stop here. Tomorrow is going to be the ultimate challenge on clay. You know, beating Rafa is a really difficult thing to do on this surface. But, I’ve done it before.
And, obviously, I’m a different player today than I was in the time I was winning against him on clay.
But, you know, I believe in myself. I will go out on the court trying to win. I mean, that’s for sure. I know he’s in great form.
But, look, anything is possible. I’ve been playing some good tennis, really good tennis, this week. Especially the last couple matches.
Today, the quality of tennis was really high. I mean, Kei was playing fantastic, especially in the first set; very quick and took me little bit of time to adjust to his pace. Which was very, very quick, as I said.
But, you know, I’m really happy that I mentally stayed strong. And in the ending of the third set, you know, really fought and showed some resilience. And this victory means a lot to me on different levels, mostly mental.
Q. Maybe it’s because I’m Japanese media. But you seem to raise your level of play every time you play with Kei. Is there some secret? Now you’ve won 12 in a row.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. I mean, look, he plays very fast. And he doesn’t allow much time, you know, to his opponents. So I think he, in a way, makes you come out very focused and with the right intensity. Because you have to respond to that, you know what I mean?
So our games are quite similar, you know, from back of the court. We both have a very solid backhand down the line or with our forehand opening the court.
So, it was a really match of and a game of cat and mouse in a way, you know. We were going toe to toe.
And, yes, I mean 6-3 win in the third set went my way. But, you know, at the same time, it could have gone his way.
Because, you know, few points really here and there decided the winner. I think 4-3, serve — my serve in the third set, I saved the break point. And I was defending for most of that point. And I was really lucky to get through that one. ‘Cause if he’d break back, you know, who knows in which direction match can go.
Q. It’s almost been a year since you’ve had a win in a deciding set in a match. How much has that been also a little bit gnawing away at you over the past few weeks, that you just couldn’t get it done in the third set?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.
Q. How important is that for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it’s great. I mean, it’s — As I said, you know, on many levels this victory means a lot to me. I think mentally the most.
The fact that you brought up that I won the final set, you know, after losing, you know, several final set matches on clay court events this year.
So this brings me confidence. It, you know, just brings me back to the place where I want to be, you know, as a tennis player. And, you know, let’s see where it takes me from here.
Q. I don’t want to touch on any negatives. But, obviously, tennis scheduling can be very tough.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.
Q. Do you think the way it’s panned out for you today, with Rafa having played so much earlier, is a little unfair in the circumstances?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Why do you think I was late in the press conference?
Let’s leave it here as it is. Because we could spend all night talking about this, as I have for the past thirty minutes or an hour.
But, there are many things that just don’t make sense here. Not just this tournament but just in general, you know.
This has already been several times in my career that I am facing this particular situation. And let’s just talk about this another time. Hope you understand. Thank you.
Q. I’d like to know if, outside of the tennis court, in the last year you’ve been capable to smile sometimes if you are not thinking all the time about health, the tennis, the match that you wanted to win, if you are able to smile? And if tonight you will go home and to bed smiling?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, if you didn’t know, I have two kids. So, they make me smile every time I see them. So, I don’t need anything more than that in my life to bring me smiles.
And so, I will be going to bed smiling.
Q. Wondering is there a sense of relief for you when you see the level you’re reaching this week? Because I guess in Indian Wells/Miami, maybe you thought it wouldn’t happen before months. And it’s already there.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be quite frank with you, I kind of expected and wanted it to happen right away. I mean, even after surgery, four weeks, five weeks after surgery, I was in Indian Wells. I know I wasn’t ready. I mean, people around me also thought that I wasn’t ready. But I just, anyway, I wanted to play because I just believed that I could get on that level.
But then I had the reality check and I had a nice slap in the face, you know, in Indian Wells and Miami and just understood where I am with my game.
And I understood that it’s going to be a process and that I have to accept it and that I have to try to, you know, work with what I have, with what I got. Because I’m a different player, obviously, and different person today than I was few years ago.
So, there were changes with the racquet, and so forth. We talked about this. And it took me time to really adjust to everything. So …
But it seems like the wins are coming together for me. I mean, four matches here were really good. I mean, I — and I felt from Monte-Carlo and starting to raise the level, you know, slowly.
Obviously, the results that I got used to and the people that got used to when I’m playing were not there, were not even close. But at the same time, I had to be patient and believe.
So, I’m here in the semifinals which is, considering all the circumstances, is fantastic results. And I have to be grateful for that.
And, well, let’s see what happens tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports