Novak Djokovic rolled into the men’s semifinals with a rousing 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0 victory over Russian Mikhail Youzhny. Djokovic advanced to his 14th straight semifinal at a Grand Slam. And he’s made the last seven at the US Open.
Djokovic, the 2011 US Open champion, was projected to play Andy Murray, and resume his rivalry with the Scot. But Murray was unable to get through Stanislas Wawrinka who ripped the defending champion 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to reach his first career Grand Slam semifinal.
Djokovic has beaten Wawrinka 11 straight times, 12 of 14 overall. However Wawrinka pressed Novak to the brink in Australia before relenting 12-10 in a five set thriller.
Q. First of all, you sustained your first set loss of the tournament. You come back with 6-0. What does that speak to your ability to kind of bring your game to the next level, if you will?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was never going to be an easy match against Mikhail. Quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, and I was aware of his qualities and ability to come back to the match. So, you know, after I lost third set I definitely tried to regroup and, you know, focus on every point individually and start playing the same game that I had in first two sets. You know, it suddenly changed. For some reason I allowed him to come back into the match, started to push the ball, being more passive, and allowing him to step into the court, come to the net. He was playing well, no question about it. He was not making any mistakes. I started making a lot of unforced errors, and the match turned around. You know, it was important to get the early break in the fourth. I have done that, and after, you know, just kind of really felt a big relief on the court and just went for my shots and played great.
Q. To be at this stage of the tournament, talk about your level of confidence.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Level of confidence is right at the top, you know, very close, because I have been playing most of my matches here very aggressive, very dominantly. I have been very satisfied with my performances overall in the whole tournament so far. And even tonight, you know, even though I dropped a set, I feel I was in control of the whole set. I played great. And to finish off the match with 6-0 win against Youzhny, it’s definitely encouraging for me for the next challenge.
Q. Was there something special in your mindset? You seemed pumped up as the first set went on and really wanted to make a point or something.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, I know that Mikhail is also the kind of player that feeds off the energy of the crowd and he loves to he pumps himself up. So I wanted to make sure he knows that I’m there to play and win every point. You know, of course I’m extra motivated as the tournament goes on. It’s quarterfinals, now it’s semifinals, and I want to win. That’s why I’m here. I try to enjoy every moment spent on the court, but win all the matches.
Q. Your match against Stan in Melbourne was such an epic, obviously. Can you give us your recollections about that night, especially in terms of just the standard of tennis.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played in my life on this surface, against Stan, that played on a very, very high level. You know, in the past we all knew that he has the quality to play that well, but not in a consistent basis. And now he worked on his I think movement a lot, and, you know, some variety of his shots in the game. He’s a very complete player. He can play equally well on any surface. He had one of the best seasons I think in his life. Today he won straight sets against defending champion on Arthur Ashe. That was quite impressive. I’m sure he’s very confident and he has nothing to lose now. He’s going to go for the win.
Q. You have often spoken of your love for the electricity on Ashe for a night match, but are there times when the crowd is rooting for an opponent to come back against you and extend the match that it can be annoying of this passion?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, depends how you look at it. I mean, from one side there are people who want a longer match, which I understand, and support your opponent. There are people who support you. I try to focus on my own supporters in the box, and of course I try to do my job, to win the match. But it is something special, really. The experience of the night session on Arthur Ashe is like no other really tournament, you know. It offers this electrical kind of atmosphere that carries also the players, you know, and also makes them play their best and enjoy every moment.
Q. Andy said after his loss that he thought the efforts of winning Wimbledon had taken an emotional toll. Can you empathize with that, and has that ever happened to you after any of your Grand Slams?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, for sure it’s never easy, after you win a Grand Slam, to motivate yourself again to play smaller tournaments and then to prepare yourself again to be mentally, physically, emotionally 100 percent committed to another Grand Slam that is basically just a month and a half after his biggest win in his career, which is Wimbledon. So I have been in this particular situation. I know how it feels. But this is tennis, you know. You definitely learn always something new every single year, every single season, and you grow as a person and as a player. That kind of a mindset, you know, to always try to get better on the court, off the court, helped me to understand what I need to do, you know, in order to stay No. 1, in order to always try to win the Grand Slam titles. Because it’s a huge competition. All the top players are very consistent. In order to, you know, be in the mix for No. 1 of the world or contender for a major title, you have to be giving everything that you have, basically. But it doesn’t only depend from you. It depends from the people around you. They have to make that sacrifice in order to allow you to achieve your dreams, which is a blessing for us, you know, to be able to have these kind of people around.
Q. Can you share some thoughts on Richard Gasquet being in a semifinal in a major against Rafael Nadal?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s a great success for him. He hasn’t been in the semis of a majors for a long time. I think it was only once in Wimbledon that he played. So I’m sure that he’s enjoying this achievement. Now he has nothing to lose against Rafa. He knows probably Rafa is a favorite, but, you know, it’s hard court and he’s been playing well. He’s been winning some long matches. He had two days to rest, and it’s going to be interesting. Richard was always one of the most talented players that played the game and one of the most beautiful and also most efficient backhands that we have seen. But, you know, it’s a best of five, and we’ll see what happens there.
Q. You have a lot of responsibility being No. 1 and trying to win a slam, and still you’re going to host you know, your second year you’re going to have the dinner on Tuesday night, September 10. How close is that project to your heart, to your foundation?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s very close to me. I try during the tournament not to think about that.
Q. Sorry to…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, no, no, problem. Thanks for bringing that up. It’s nice from you. Obviously my girlfriend is directly involved in the organization. And also the people that we have in foundation, they’re doing a great job. We’re getting more people on board. We are growing as a small foundation. You know, we had first fundraiser last year after US Open, so we will have another one. We had one after Wimbledon and we’re going to have another one here after finals. We look forward to that. It’s beautiful to be able to have 300 people in one place who are, you know, influential people who are also people with good hearts and try to get as much money raised as possible in order to help education for kids in Serbia. That’s something that our foundation is doing in last few years.
Q. Going back to your match, after the third set, after losing the third set and you were down 4-1, what specifically did you change in your play to take back control and win the fourth set 6-0?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as I said before, I start pushing the ball a little bit and wasn’t as, you know, maybe confident to take a step forward and go for the shots. That caused some unforced errors and allowed him to come to the court and be more, you know, aggressive. That’s why, you know, it resulted with a third set loss. I just went back to the game that I had from the start of the match, and I played a fantastic set. I mean, overall everything was working. I was aggressive. I was serving well. Just the way I actually should play.
Q. You have had such nice words for Stan in here. I know you speak French much better now. Is it possible to have a few words for Stan in French?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We will do it alone there, because I don’t want to embarrass myself (laughter). Sorry about that.
Q. Just wondering, have you gotten a chance since January to watch the match back with Stan on YouTube or video or anything?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. I will try to analyze that game. But it’s quite different. It’s the beginning of the year. But still, I mean, not just myself, but I have a big team of people around me that will definitely do the analysis and preparation, you know, tactical preparation for my next opponent. I’m not going to watch the whole match that I had with Stan because it’s going to take me half a day to stay next to the computer.
Q. Do you ever watch not just for tactical purposes…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, of course. YouTube is great thing. It helps to remind yourself, you know, some good moments.
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