Australian Open Press Conference QFs vs Raonic: “Tonight not much I can complain about. From the first game to the last I played the game I wanted.”

Novak Djokovic speaks to the press following his quarterfinal win against Milos Raonic in straight sets.


Q. If he had won the first set it’s a totally different match, right? Do you feel that pressure?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, of course, it was a close first set, but I thought I had more chances in the first set than him. Managed to stay tough in the right moments and win the crucial first set. Obviously winning it in a tiebreak and making the break of serve first game of the second set was definitely huge really for me. I could start swinging through a little bit more, be more aggressive into the court. You know, since that first game of the second set I played a great match.

Q. How much confidence do you take out of the last two matches that were very tricky and you didn’t lose a set?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I take a lot of confidence. I try to carry that in every next match, next challenge. Obviously I’m going to play Stan, who is the defending champion here. We played five-set matches in 2013 and ’14 Australian Open. I’m going to be ready for a fight. But knowing that I have raised the level of performance tonight, and probably playing the best match of the tournament so far is affecting my confidence in a positive way. Hopefully I can carry that into next one.

Q. Any way you could be playing better?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I’m a self-critic. But, again, I got to try to take the positives out of every match. Tonight there was not much I could complain about. From the first game till the last I played the way I wanted. I created a lot of breakpoint opportunities. The key of tonight’s match, one of the keys, was to get as many balls back in play, returns back in play. I thought from the back of the court I had more chance than him to win the points. I executed very, very well. It’s easier said than done, but I feel very good about my game in this moment.

Q. Do you remember the first time you faced Stan here in 2005, qualification?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Playing Stan 2005 in qualifications here? Are you sure?

Q. And you won; you can check?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well done for that stat. I can’t remember that match honestly. But it’s great to see somebody I know for a long time — I know Stan is two years older than me, but we did play some junior events together, Grand Slams. You know, to see him doing well, especially in the last two years… He loves this sport. He’s out there working hard. All these years we all knew that he has great quality tennis game, but mentally he didn’t believe enough that he can win Grand Slams. I think that changed in last two years. That’s why his results are the way they are and he’s a Grand Slam champion, Davis Cup champion. He’s playing very confident. Yeah, so he’s one of the guys to beat in this tournament, so I look forward to the challenge.

Q. You don’t remember this match?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First round maybe probably? I remember second and third round was Wesley Moodie. Thanks for reminding me. I’ll mention it to Stan tomorrow when I see him.

Q. You’ve had a few easier wins over Stan away from the Grand Slams. Last three games you played in Grand Slams it was deep in the fifth set. What made those matches more intense? How do you prepare for the next one knowing how long the last three have been?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I mentioned before, I’m ready for the battle. When we played last three Grand Slam matches they were the finals stages of a Grand Slam, semifinals, quarterfinals. Grand Slams are the tournaments where you want to perform your best. I’m sure we both are very much aware of that fact, and it’s why we get to play on a high level against each other and we push each other to the limit in a way. It’s a very physical battle, as well. But I haven’t had too many long matches during this tournament. I’m ready for it. I’m going to practice tomorrow, do a little preparation for that match, try to analyze his game and what I need to do in order to win.

Q. Stan played an unbelievable match against Kei today. Did you see any of it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. He played a great match. Kei has been playing his best tennis in the last 12 months. To be able to win straight sets against him is pretty impressive. Being the defending champion, obviously he’s got some of the pressure here. He is facing this kind of role for the first time in his life. He’s been playing some great tennis under the circumstances. Got to give him credit for that. I like Stan; respect him a lot. But I’m sure once we’re both on the court we both want to win.

Q. Did you watch the highlights from last year’s match with Stan?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I haven’t watched, but probably now is the time. I will not watch the last point of that match (smiling). Everything else is fine. Again, of course you need to do a video analysis. You need to get yourself in the right state of mind for the matches like this, because this is now semifinals of a Grand Slam and you’re playing a top player. There is no going back now. It’s the time to perform the best you can.

Q. Is it the Boris Becker effect we’re seeing on your serve?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Definitely he’s got his contribution there, no question about it. He has joined the team last year. It’s been 12 months that we’ve been working together. He’s working closely with Marian and the rest of the team members obviously in improving my game, getting it to the highest possible degree. Serve was one of the tasks, one of the things that we wanted to improve. I know I can’t serve as fast as Milos, but I’m trying to use the angles, the accuracy, align myself to have some free points with that serve. That’s what I used well during this 10 days now so far.

Q. You’ve been in a lot of semifinals in Grand Slams and you’ve won seven. Can you tell at this stage anything, that this one feels good or what’s going to happen from now on?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course it feels good. It never gets old being in the last four of the Grand Slam. Sometimes, you know, obviously people around you think this is something that is normal from a top player, to reach that final stage. You’re expected to perform well and reach semifinals of a Grand Slam. But I don’t take anything for granted. I try to be aware that there are thousands of players around the world who are fighting equally as I am to be in this position. So that keeps me grounded, and I try to enjoy every moment and work hard for what I have.

Q. Having Boris in your camp, how much does that really benefit you from a mental side of things?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, that was the biggest contribution he could bring to me. Because he was the No. 1 player of the world, multiple Grand Slam winner, he understands exactly the kind of obstacles and challenges, mental challenges, I have to go through and I’m facing during the match. Especially in the later stages of tournament. That’s where we talk a lot. It took us some time obviously from the beginning of the partnership to understand how we work, what’s the daily routine, what’s the mindset because we are different people, but we went through the same circumstances and situations in our careers. That’s where he can help me the most.


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