Novak Djokovic QF interview

  • def. Kei Nishikori 6-1 4-1 (ret).

Q. After not having been to the semis for the last two years, how does it feel to be back in the final four?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Feels great. This has been my most successful Grand Slam throughout my career, the first one that I won back in 2008. As I said on the court, I have a lot of beautiful memories from Rod Laver Arena.

Yeah, past two years have been a bit tough with the elbow injury and everything. Over the past 10 years, I've had plenty of success here. Obviously that has helped to kickstart the season in a great fashion, obviously served as a great confidence boost for what was coming up after that.

I think that's one of the reasons why I think I always try to push myself really to focus here and to play as best as I can so I can really start off the season well. Obviously I'm not the only one. Everyone tries to get their hands on one of the four biggest titles in sport. But Australia has been really kind to me throughout my career, I can to say at least.

Q. Coming to this match, knowing that Kei has played many long matches, do you think even before you hit the ball, psychologically you get some advantage?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's kind of hard to judge what has affected him psychologically tonight, because physically he was obviously hurt. I won most of our matches that we played against each other throughout our careers.

But still he's a top-10 player for so many years, very experienced on the big stage. He has won against all of the top players in the big tournaments, so he's had that experience. I knew that if he's fit, he'll battle hard and he'll put in the fight, obviously wanting to win.

It wasn't to be for him. I'm really sorry to see him go through pain. He's had some tough injuries in the last couple of years. I'm sure he's not feeling great about ending the Grand Slam this way. But he's had some marathon matches this tournament that probably have taken the toll on his body.

Q. Here in the media room is it's: Is it going to be you or Rafael Nadal? Do you feel prepared to face Rafa?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn't understand really the first part of your question.

Right now it's my press conference, so it will be nice to talk about me more than Nadal. If you want to talk about our possible encounter, we talk about that if we both win semis.

Q. I think you've spent time in the past with Dylan Alcott, one of the popular players around this tournament. What have you made many him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Who is that?

Q. Dylan Alcott. You played some wheelchair tennis with him.

Q. What do you make of him as a character around the tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Dylan deserves the popularity. He's a very great guy, very charismatic. I've said it before, these guys are heroes to me, they really are. They make the game of tennis more beautiful and more unique because of what they do and how they do it. They turn their handicap into something that inspires a lot of people, including myself.

I've had the opportunity to play with Dylan. He got me into the wheelchair several years ago. That was one of the I think three times that I got in the wheelchair to try to play. Every next time I get in, I try to move around and hit the ball, I respect them even more. I appreciate what they do because it's much harder than it looks like.

As I said, these guys are inspiration.

Q. Next round you play Lucas Pouille. What do you make of his comeback? What do you expect?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I always thought he's a great quality player. I mean, what he has done this tournament is fantastic. He has won against some top players. Of course Milos, Coric in the last round. He struggled a little bit with consistency of his results in the last two years.

But with the quality of the tennis that he possesses, he deserves to be definitely at the top 15, maybe top 10 of the world. He's got that quality and potential, no question about it.

It's funny that we're going to play first time against each other. We've practiced many times. We've known each other obviously for a long time. Here we go. We'll see. It's the semifinals. We both, I'm sure, want to get to the finals. Hopefully we can both be fresh and fit and put on the great show.

Q. The other night when you played Medvedev, you didn't seem that fresh and fit at the end of the match. I wonder if you were worried about it? Some Serbian colleagues of mine told me that yesterday you practiced off limits, that nobody could watch you practicing. I would like to know if you confirm that and what was the worry to hide some mysterious practice?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: To answer your first question, I've played a lot of long rallies with Medvedev. Of course, at the end it felt exhausting. But at the same time I recovered well and I didn't have doubt that I will be fit tonight. So it's completely different story of tonight, how I feel.

Regarding the closed practice, I saw that, too, that they've published that I insisted on having a closed practice. It's absolutely not true. I don't know. I've never said anything about closed practice. I just went in to practice on the Margaret Court Arena. There was nobody there. I enjoyed. I enjoyed. Maybe somebody from tournament, I don't know.

You see me every day, so I'm sure you are not missing me.

Q. Can I come see you practice tomorrow?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. You can sit on my bench, as well, advise me.

Q. A year ago you sat in this room frustrated and injured. In addition to fixing the elbow problem, what other factors maybe emotionally have helped you get back to your prime tennis?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it always has to start or go back to the very essence of why I play the sport: it's love and passion for the game. I think I had to really I think dig deep to kind of inspire myself even more after an injury and surgery.

I did not plan to end my career, but different thoughts were going through my mind, without a doubt, that period. Having achieved a lot throughout my career, obviously puts things in a different perspective. At the same time I still enjoy playing tennis, competing of course as well. Just for the sake of holding the racquet in my hands and playing on any court, whether it's a public court or a Grand Slam court.

I think that kind of pure emotion got me going. Of course, support of loved ones that is essential. Obviously I have to, as anybody else who is a father or a parent, find the right balance between a private and professional life, because without that it wouldn't be possible for me to compete at the highest level for so long.

So far everything is in its order. What tomorrow brings we don't know, but we hope for the best.