An Interview With.. Novak Djokovic | 2019 Wimbledon (QF)

Novak Djokovic speaks to the media following his 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over David Goffin

Q. We often ask you about the biggest challenges you face in facing a given opponent. When you’re playing the way you are right now, what do you think the biggest challenge is the opponent faces in you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know if I want to say that (smiling). I guess especially at this stage you want to keep your strengths and what you feel on the court for yourself rather than sharing it in public.

But I sincerely hope that my opponent feels like he’s got to work twice as more than against any other opponent to win a point.

Q. How would you describe the different things that are going right for you right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ve been playing best tennis in this tournament in the last two rounds, fourth round and today. Especially today second set and third set against Goffin, who was in form, I felt like I managed to dismantle his game and find always the right shots.

Very pleased with the performance. This match could have gone different way. I was break down. He was the better player for most of the first set. But I managed to turn things around. Yeah, I feel very good on the court, confident, going for the shots, trying to come to the net, as well, be more aggressive, use the short balls.

Hopefully serve also can be consistent because I’m going to need that. Especially on grass, you’re going to need a lot of free points on the first serves. That’s obviously a big advantage coming into last four.

Q. You’ve been coming to Wimbledon a long time, go deep here. Have you had a chance to notice how many nice flowers there are here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: They’re beautiful, yeah. I actually like early hours of the day before the public and the crowd comes in. That’s when you can actually move around freely as a player. That’s where you notice how much effort and time people who are working in organization, management here, you know, how much time and efforts they’re investing into making this club probably the most famous tennis club in the world.

Q. You have Roberto Bautista Agut next. Third time this year you’re playing. What is the toughest thing about his game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: His consistency, I think. His ability to stay in the point even when it seems like he’s on the back foot. He’s got amazing consistency I think with his shots. Very flat from both forehand and backhand.

He has improved his backhand. I think he’s got more depth on his backhand. The ball bounces lower on the grass, which is I think more suitable to his style of the game. He doesn’t like when the ball bounces higher to his backhand.

He’s been definitely playing some very, very high-quality tennis in this tournament. He has won twice against me so far this year. That’s certainly going to give him confidence coming into the match.

Obviously playing on grass, it’s different. Semifinals of Grand Slam, going to try to use my experience in being in these kind of matches, get myself tactically prepared.

Hopefully I can execute everything I intend to do.

Q. David just said it’s like at some point 4-3 down you decided to not miss a ball, put everything in the court. It looks simple. What was the switch in the mindset for you to turn this match around?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that was a long game on 4-3. I just managed to make him play, come into the net. I played couple of good points, got back into the first set. It was I think turning point winning first set. It was a huge relief for me mentally. I started relaxing, going through the ball a bit more.

David plays very, very clean, has a very clean game. If you manage to get into your rhythm, then it feels nice. It feels comfortable being on the court.

But, again, he was in form. He was playing well. I just managed to really find holes in his game and attack him. I’ve played as good as I’ve played entire tournament.

Q. Was it such a shock to lose that serve after you made 15 games out of 17? For the second year in a row, you may have four semifinalists all over 30. Are you like a good wine, the Italian wine?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Italian, of course (smiling).

Q. It gets better.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sassicaia. When I used to drink it (smiling).

I guess that’s the case, yeah. I’m just glad to be one of the guys who is 30-plus and to be still in that group. Don’t ask me more questions about young tennis players, when is their time to come up because we’ve talked about it. I said that eventually is going to happen.

It doesn’t seem like it’s happening on Grand Slams. I guess this is where, especially Nadal, Federer, and myself, in a way we go onto next level in terms of tennis and focus. We’re very dedicated to these tournaments. In particular at this stage of all of our careers, this is what matters the most for us.

Q. Out of curiosity, when you were down 4-3, you were quite silent playing. Then you started a little bit of grunting, vocalizing your shots. You immediately raised your level. Is it something that comes out of your instinct, something you think about? It was clear from the stands.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Interesting. I did not notice that. But, you know, it’s obviously mental as much as it’s physical. If you’re not feeling so well at the beginning, you don’t start a match well, you’re on the back foot because your opponent is feeling that he has a chance to dominate the play from the baseline.

He was closer. I was further. He was dictating. In a way losing the serve at 3-All helped because after that, Okay, now that I lost my serve, I can actually start playing freely and attack more.

Yeah, I mean, probably it was the case. Whether the grunting helps, I don’t think there is any particular rule. But today it did. I don’t know. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. I guess it’s part of my style.

Q. Is there anything you still feel like you need to learn on grass? You don’t even have to tell us what it is. Is there anything? Have you hit a ceiling and now it’s a matter of maintenance? Hard to imagine you playing better, frankly.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you. I take that as a compliment.

I’m trying to always be obviously very positive and optimistic about my game, but at the same time I know that there is room for improvement always. Certain shots in my game – serve, slice – I think I can maybe come in more at times. You know, there’s always things that you can improve. I’m not being self-critical. I just think that this is the healthy way of thinking, for an athlete to always strive to be better.

Q. Will you study film from this tournament and say, This is how I was hitting my backhand, but I should do this more?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I’m doing that. I’m doing that often. I also speak with my coaching staff. Obviously they do the same. We adjust accordingly to the surface, as well. I mean, obviously when the grass court season is finished, the focus is on the hard courts.

In general, there are elements in my game that can always be better. But I know what my strengths are, so of course I try to stick with that base.

Q. The shot that seems to separate you from the pack is your return of serve. When you’re on a roll like you were at the end of the first set through the second, what does it feel like to be returning the way you were, the way you see the ball?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, ball all of a sudden looks and seems larger than it actually is. It’s a good feeling, I must say (smiling).

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