Top seed Novak Djokovic was stunned today by Kei Nishikori in the US Open semifinals. Djokovic had made the US Open finals the last four years, winning the title in 2011. This was his earliest loss in New York since 2009.
Afterward, Djokovic, who didn’t make a final in any of the three events this summer, met the press to discuss the match, Nishikori and what’s the come with his baby.
Q. Can you talk a little about the conditions on the court and specifically the heat?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Same for both players. It was not easy to play in these conditions, but also he had more hours spent on the court. So it’s no excuse.
Q. Were you surprised by how strong he was given he had two five-setters coming in?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I expected him to be able to play another five-setter because he had two days off. He hasn’t played before this tournament, so he had a big break. He could prepare himself for this tournament. He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how his game has improved over the past year.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think he wasn’t using forehand as well as he does now. His backhand is very solid. One of the best double-handed backhands from all over the court. Really aggressive. He’s very quick, so he gets a lot of balls back. Uses every short ball to attack. I think now he’s all-around player.
Q. You get through the second set 6-1 and you get to the tiebreak. He’s serving for the set. What was your feeling going into the tiebreak?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, what can I say? Other than that second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be. A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. Just wasn’t myself.
Q. But still you won more points; you had more winners and less unforced errors than him.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I lost the match. (Smiling.)
Q. What particularly in your game did you not feel was working? The conditions or…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, again, I don’t want to talk about conditions. It’s same for both of us. I think he just played better in these conditions than I did. I just wasn’t managing to go through the ball in the court. You know, I wasn’t in the balance. Unforced errors. Even when the ball gets back to his part of the court it’s pretty short; he takes advantage of it. On the other side I didn’t. That’s it.
Q. You seemed to have a real physical edge over Andy in the quarterfinal. At what point in this match did you feel not as comfortable as you might have expected to?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was tough for both of us. You could feel that obviously we were, towards the end of the match, not moving as well as on the start. But, you know, I didn’t think that was a particular issue for me. I thought it was just an overall feeling. My strokes just weren’t there.
Q. You get back to No. 1; you win Wimbledon; get to two finals. How would you assess your year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s not over yet. You know, I felt like I could have gone at least a step further here, but disappointing today. It is what it is. It’s sport. I have to congratulate the better opponent and move on and try to finish off this year hopefully as close as I have last year.
Q. Can you speak a little about playing in warm weather and hot conditions today? And also looking forward to Davis Cup next week also the weather is pretty similar to here.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I have to speak with my captain and see, you know, see if I’m going to go in India or not. I still don’t know.
Q. Are you really focusing this tournament or you are a little worried about your wife and her pregnancy and future baby?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, of course I’m in touch with my wife. Of course I am being part of her pregnancy. It’s normal. But, you know, it’s no different for me in terms of preparing for the match and for the tournament. I had all my dedication, everything directed to this US Open. I tried to give my best and I did. Now my best today was not where I wanted it to be.
Q. With the baby due I think in a month or so, could this be the last time we see you playing this year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know. It’s too early. I don’t know yet. Just got off the court. I don’t know.
Q. Are you planning to play in this International Premier League in Asia?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. You signed?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. I am supposed to play in Dubai, yes.
Q. In November?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In December. We had four last questions, right? (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Bad math.
Q. As someone who was a groundbreaker in your sport for your country, could you speak at all to the idea of what impact maybe it can have when a player like Kei becomes the first of his country to reach a Grand Slam final?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, this is definitely huge for Japan. It’s a big country. Over a hundred million people. This can definitely be a great encouragement for tennis in that country. He’s been around for last couple of years. He’s been making a lot of success. But playing finals of a Grand Slam and now fighting for title is definitely something different. You know, he has gotten to another level, and I’m sure that people will praise him.
Q. Uniqlo, it’s probably very good for the company, right?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is.
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