For a third straight year Novak Djokovic’s French Open hopes were dashed by rival Rafael Nadal who ended his chances for a career Slam this year with a 36, 75, 62, 64 win the Serb.
Djokovic admitted afterward that he was in some distress late in the match – TV showed him visibly vomiting twice on the court – but credited Nadal with the strong play.
Djokovic had won four straight over Nadal since the US Open. But in Grand Slam play he falls to 3-9 against the Spaniard and 0-6 at Roland Garros.
After the match, here’s some of what Djokovic had to say.
Q. How it went after the first set? What was exactly going on in the match for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was a great start; came back in the second. Could have gone to the tiebreak and was quite even. I lost that service game 6 5, and then the momentums went his side. I started, you know, playing quite bad, you know, and didn’t move as well. Struggled a little bit physically throughout that third set. Then in the fourth started to feel a little bit better, but then just crucial points he played better.
I wasn’t playing at the level that I wanted, especially in the second part of the match. You know, that’s sport. It’s how it is. These kind of big matches obviously take the best out of players. And of course it’s a huge challenge. I tried to do my best. My best wasn’t as the best against him in Rome a couple weeks ago. But, you know, it’s how it is. Congratulations to him. He was a better player in the crucial moments. Of course it’s disappointing for me, but life goes on. It’s not the first time or last time that I lost a match.
Q. Having to play Nadal in Roland Garros is something totally different than playing him elsewhere. Like does he have moral superiority here, or the court’s wide, as you had mentioned before? Does it make him totally very different than from other courts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, that’s how it feels on the court. Obviously his records speak for themselves. He has won this tournament now nine times. It’s very impressive what he’s playing on this court. He has lost only once in his career on center court. It’s definitely not easy best of five to play against him in these conditions.
Q. Can you just describe your frustration level at the end of the match I guess with match point interruption also, and then just generally not able to break through? Seemed like you had more frustration visible normally than you might after…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s finals of Grand Slam. I mean, I have expectations. You want this win as much as your opponent across the net. That’s it. I’m emotional player, and the tennis court is an arena and I’m there to fight and I’m there to try to win, and, you know, show my emotions. Unfortunately, it didn’t work this time.
Q. Do you feel that you were not in the best physical condition today since two days ago you seemed to have some nose problems or something. Would you say that today Nadal won it because he was stronger physically in a way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I did have the period of the match, as I mentioned, end of the second and the whole third set I struggled a little bit. But as I said, it’s not impossible, but it’s very, very difficult to stay with Rafa in this court, you know, throughout the whole match on the highest level of performance. It’s normal that you have ups and downs. I was just hoping that in the fourth I would be able to come back. I started feeling, as I said, a little bit better, but I wasn’t managing to, you know, bring my A game when it was most needed in the end of the fourth.
Q. Regarding to emotions, do you feel the crowd plays some role since you always are really, really loved here in Paris? Do you feel the crowd gave you not as good as it always gives you the cheers?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The crowd, I think support of the crowd was big for him, was big for me. I was trying to focus on my own fans, my own supporters, and of course it’s finals of a Grand Slam. When I play against Rafa, it’s always exciting match for us to play and for crowd to see, so they get also involved in the match.
In the end of the day, it’s very emotional. A lot of tension going on on the court. You can feel that. I cannot, you know, find excuses in the crowd. You know, I cannot blame anybody. It’s all part of the sport.
His on-court speech:
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