[US OPEN] Thursday, September 6: QF vs Del Potro 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-4
Q. How did it feel on some of those rallies where it seemed that your opponent had you out of the point but you kept getting the ball back and turning it into offense?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, it was a straight‑set win, but it was much, much closer and tougher than really the score indicated. I think whoever saw the match, you know, would understand. We played almost three hours. Especially that second set was I think crucial, you know, to get a two‑set advantage and to feel better coming into the third set obviously. It could have gone really either way. It was very long, a lot of important and exciting, long rallies. The crowd got into it. So it was a lot of fun in one way to be a part of this great match. You know, I was aware of his qualities, you know, before the match. He's a big guy, very powerful serve. You know, his first shot is great, especially from the forehand side. He moves really well for his size. You know, I tried to be, you know, aggressive and get him moving. I knew the longer the rally goes, you know, I would have more chance. But I couldn't make it all the time because he was very aggressive staying close to the line. But, you know, I managed to play a great game 5‑4 second set and turned things around.
Q. This is I would have to think, the greatest challenge you have had in this tournament so far.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: For sure.
Q. A player playing as well as Juan Martin played would have to test your best. I think that's probably very important when you get to the semifinals of a Grand Slam to have needed to dig as deep as you dug tonight. David played great today, so it's going to be a tough match.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. Look, I didn't expect anything less. I mean, Del Potro is a Grand Slam winner; he loves playing here. As I said, I was very much aware of how good he is and how powerful he can play and how dangerous he can be on this surface. He loves playing on the big stage. I knew that. I lost, you know, important match in Olympic Games this year, and we played some really great matches. I didn't expect, you know, to win easy. That's for sure. I knew that he's going to kind of elevate his level in that second set. He was making a lot of first serves in, so I tried to stay in there. As I said, you know, the second set was probably a turning point.
Q. Did you see Janko and David's match at all today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah, sure.
Q. And the way that David played, you know...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: They both played really well. I thought Janko was unfortunate in the end to, you know, physically get exhausted and tired. And you could feel that, you know. If he had a little bit maybe left in the tank he could have won the match. He was 4‑1‑up in the fifth set. So, I mean, David is a fighter. He's one of the biggest competitors we have in the game. People do not, I think, talk too much. They overlook him. But he has been one of the most consistent players on the tour. He plays great on every surface. You need to earn your points against him.
Q. When you play a match like this when the level was very high and sometimes unbelievable shots, when you get out do you rank it? Do you say, Okay, it was the best match of my season, second‑best match of my season?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I don't rank it, but, you know, I have played really well when I needed to today. As I said, you know, second set went the distance and the crowd was into it. After some points in the tiebreaker, you know, we both got standing ovation and applause. That was an incredible feeling for a player to see. Then you get more excited and motivated to play even better, you know. So, I mean, probably one of the better sets I have played in 2012, for sure. I mean, he's a great opponent.
Q. The backhand down the line, do you remember this feeling you had last year when you can just hit it like tonight and it's keeping in, in, in, again and again?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, in important moments probably decided hitting that backhand along the line. But tactically I knew he likes to be in the backhand corner and playing inside‑out forehand. He has a powerful forehand, so I needed to take him out of his comfort zone. You know, I was trying to be as aggressive as possible. So it worked when it needed to work.
Q. Do you ever get impatient during the Grand Slams when you haven't had a great, dramatic match and you're winning easily and you're saying to yourself, I really can't wait to have a big day match or night match and the crowd is excited and it's competitive?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I guess the final stages of a Grand Slam, you know, take the best out of our each individual player who is participating in these final stages, you know. You know you're going to have a tougher opponent, better‑ranked opponent, high‑quality tennis, and you need to rise up to the occasion. That's something that is expected. You're coming into the match against top‑10 player knowing that you have to come up with your A game. You have to play really well, play very solid, and, you know, hope that you can win.
Q. What does it mean to you to be defending the championship? How does that affect your mentality during this tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It doesn't affect much because I have already quite a lot of experience, you know, with that. The first time when I defended my Grand Slam title was 2009 in Australia. You know, it was a difficult period for me because I face it for the first time and pressure got the best of me. But then I have learned over the years how to deal with it and how to cope with the pressure and get better on the court, off the court, understand the game better. So right now, I mean, I just try to focus on every game individually, but it definitely has a special feeling about it coming as a defending champion. It's unique and I love it.
Q. Earlier this year you got within one match of winning four matches in a row, and at this tournament it's the 50th anniversary of Laver winning four matches in a row. I just wanted to know your thoughts on what you think of that as an achievement for him; and given you got so close maybe you can comment on how difficult...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You're talking about four Grand Slams in a row?
Q. Yeah. It's 50 years this year.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah. Well, Rod Laver is one of the biggest, one of the greatest we had in the game. You know, obviously I have lots of respect for him. I'm too young. I haven't seen him play. But to be able to receive a trophy this year in Australia from him was something special, something I will truly remember. Yes, I did have my chance to make it four in a row but I haven't done it. Just coming to the Roland Garros finals this year was a step further than I had ever done, so for me that was satisfying. I'll keep on trying. You know, I still feel that I have a lot of years to come.
Q. You're talking about the tiebreaker, the point that made it 6‑3; that was probably the best point of the match. Just break it down, what you're thinking while it's going on and then afterwards with the reaction and everything.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Smiling.) Well, I have tried to focus on every point that is coming up, so obviously it's better to be 6‑3‑up than 6‑3 down, because then you feel more confident going for the shot that I went for on set point with that backhand along the line. I was in a defending position, but I felt that that was the moment to take the chance, and I have done it. So the reaction of the crowd was incredible and I just enjoyed it.
Q. This is the first time in your career that you have been in a Grand Slam semifinal and neither Roger or Rafa haven't been in there. Does it feel a little bit different tournament‑wise?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: For me it's really the same, you know, because I take it very seriously whoever I have to face, you know, in the next round. You know, you have Murray, Berdych, Ferrer, myself, we're all top‑10 players. For maybe some people it was surprising to see Roger lose because he's been so consistent and dominant, you know, player in the last couple of years. He's always expected to get to at least semifinals of every Grand Slam. But look, you know, Berdych deserved to win. He came up with incredible tennis. I have never seen him play that well. This is tennis. You know, everybody is trying and has, I think, motivation more to perform their best when they're in a big stage playing against the top players, the favorites. I still feel that we are having a really good tournament.
Q. You played for your country; you're very proud of playing for your country. Only two times Juan Martin has beaten you was Davis Cup and of course at Wimbledon. Does that distinguish him in any way when you face him? I am not asking if you have a vendetta against him for those things, but I know those losses hurt differently maybe.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, when you're playing for your country it's a different feeling. I guess I didn't expect too much from myself in the Davis Cup last year, because, you know, I made the decision with the captain to play that match even though I wasn't even close to 100% fit and I arrived two days before the match injured. But, you know, it's the way it is. You learn from experiences. I got injured that kept me away from the tour for two months and I really couldn't recover until the end of the year. But then, you know, the Olympic Games, it was a big match for both of us, the last chance for a medal; didn't get it. It hurt me emotionally for sure, because, you know, you represent your country. That's a very, a rare, I guess, opportunity for a player. It doesn't change much really when I face him. He's a great guy. I get along with him really, really well off the court. We are good friends. You know, when we step on the court we want to win. Doesn't matter, you know, which match, which tournament.