Novak Djokovic 22-01-18 interview

  • def. by Chung 7-6 7-5 7-6

Q. Do you think you played with somebody who was playing a little bit like you a few years ago?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. Congratulations to Chung and his team. Amazing. Amazing performance. He was a better player on the court tonight. He deserved to win, no question about it.

 Whenever he was in trouble, he came up with some unbelievable shots, passing shots. Just from the back of the court, you know, he was like a wall.

 It's impressive. I wish him all the best.

Q. How is your health?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it's not great. Unfortunately, it's not great. Kind of end of the first set it started hurting more. So, yeah, I had to deal with it till the end of the match.

Q. How did you go through the match knowing you were not playing at your best?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First of all, I have to say I'm very grateful I had the chance to play. I didn't know if I'm going to play or not. So I played four matches here. It was a good tournament, of course. I mean, it's disappointing to go out in the fourth round. The circumstances are such. I have to accept it. That's the reality.

 It's frustrating, of course, when you have that much time and you don't heal properly. But it is what it is. There is some kind of a reason behind all of this. I'm just trying my best obviously because I love this sport. I enjoy training. I enjoy getting myself better, hoping that I can get better, perform and compete.

 Today was one of those days where, unfortunately, it was too much to deal with.

Q. Do you think you need more time out to allow it to heal again?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I really don't know. Now I don't know. I have to reassess everything with my team, medical team, coaches and everybody, scan it, see what the situation is like. Last couple weeks I played a lot of tennis. Let's see what's happening inside.

Q. Was the thought at the beginning of the tournament that you were fit enough to get through seven matches?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, yeah. I was hoping I can go through it. As I was mentioning before, as a professional athlete, you have to deal with pain at a certain level, a certain degree. You kind of get used that.

 But, yeah, I don't want to talk about my injury tonight because then I'm taking away Chung's victory, the credit that he deserves.

Q. Two years ago when you played him, his ranking was actually higher than now, but now he's more mature.
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah.

Q. He's growing. What difference do you see from the match two years ago and today?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, there's a big difference. Obviously he's physically stronger. Also, as you mentioned, mature. I think he got some big matches in the last 15 months on the big stage. I think that helps to build a confidence and experience, to know what to do in deciding moments.

 Today he was great in those moments. He showed no weaknesses, not many. I mean, he was really consistent, played a great match.

Q. Playing style and the tactics, it's well know he likes you very much, idolized you when he was growing up.
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, we do play very similar. He definitely has the game to be a top-10 player, without a doubt. How far he can go, that depends on him. Obviously I respect him a lot because he's a hard worker, he's disciplined, he's a nice guy, he's quiet. You can see that he cares about his career and his performances. So I'm sure that he's going to get some really good results in the future.

Q. How pleased are you that you found the level to fight, to keep going? How concerned are you that it might have caused more damage by playing on?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, look, you know, once you're in the middle of the match, you're dealing with, of course, many things. You know, you try. That's always there, present, a possibility for you. It's always there for you to, I guess, explore, to try to go through it, accept whatever it is, and just try your best.

 I mean, I had similar situations in the past where I found myself struggling a little bit with some injuries during the match, then I managed to win the match or lose, whatever.

 I felt the level of pain was, you know, not that high that I need to stop the match, even though it was obviously compromising my serve. That, of course, is a big shot, especially against Chung, who returns well, gets a lot of balls back...

 I wish I could have a little bit had more free points on the first serve, but I didn't. That's life. I have to move on.

Q. If you had won the third set, how were you feeling physically, apart from the arm?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, it was good. Apart from the arm, it was fine. I was hoping that I could take the match to the fourth set. Chung obviously hasn't played too many of the long matches. I was maybe hoping that's where I'm going to look for my chances.

 He just played, in the clutch moments, some really high-quality tennis. Deserved the win.

Q. A while ago you said the wolf climbing the mountain is hungrier than the wolf already atop it. Do you think that kind of dynamic played into the match?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I guess I'm one of the wolves, you know, also climbing, trying to climb (smiling).

 I mean, look, I know how he feels. I can assume that as a young player, playing on a big stage, having not much to lose, obviously that gives you a lot of strength, a lot of energy, a lot of motivation.

 As I said, I just have to congratulate the opponent tonight. He was the better player in the decisive moments. 7-6, 7-5, 7-6, over three hours, three and a half hours, it was very long, a lot of rallies. He had to earn his victory. At least I wanted to, you know, challenge him to earn it without me handing it to him. That's what he has done, so... Well done.

Q. Do you already know what the plans may be?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No.

Q. What was the turning point of the match?
 NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, I had a terrible start. Double break down, managed to come back. Probably the first set tiebreaker, he just was mentally tough and patient. The second set also he was up. I think the entire match I was trying to come back and chase him. He was always ahead.