NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Well, he’s one of the NextGen group of players that, you know, plays very well and has a promising future. His game is quite fitting for this surface. Has very flat, very quick shots off the ground. Especially, you know, he’s very confident from the backhand corner. Moves well for his size and height, and obviously the serve is a big weapon. If he serves consistently well and accurate, he can pose a big challenge to any player on this surface.
Yeah, it was a close first set. He had a couple of break points and 4-3 could have gone different way in the first set and maybe changed, you know, the dynamic of the match, but I think winning that first set and playing well at the end of the first set has kind of put me in the position where, you know, I’m taking the momentum away from him.
So I started off very well in the second. Break of serve that I held all the way through. I did struggle a little bit with my serve today and wasn’t as accurate as it was in the first two matches, but also, that’s due to his quality of return.
Just all in all, it was a really tough match. Straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, but, you know, it took a lot of work and energy to break the resistance.
Q. You seemed to be really enjoying yourself this week. By your sky-high standards, it’s not been the easiest last 12 months. Is this the most fun you have had in the last year on the court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I am enjoying undoubtedly this week and, you know, the fact that I’m in the finals obviously makes it even better. But I felt very welcomed from the first day by the people in Eastbourne.
As I was mentioning before, many of them have approached me and expressed their gratitude for my arrival and my participation in Eastbourne tournament, which left a very nice impression on me and obviously gave me even more motivation to do well this week.
So I’m really glad that I’ll be able to fight for the trophy tomorrow. I haven’t had too many opportunities to fight for the trophy in the last 10 to 12 months. I haven’t had too many finals, so it’s actually, you know, it’s a good feeling, of course, and it’s something I’m working very hard for, as all the other players.
You know, it comes in the right moment, because I need, you know, to build that kind of level of confidence and, you know, the matches won obviously help that. And coming into Wimbledon, I’m hoping that I can continue in this path of raising the performance and the quality of tennis.
Q. Is it almost like this week has been a holiday, and then next week is back to being really serious?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Does it look like a holiday to you (smiling)? I mean, it’s not really nice to this tournament to say that.
Q. But I mean the crazy, intense pressure of a Grand Slam, you said yourself, you felt maybe a little bit more relaxed this week.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course Grand Slams are different from any other tournament, but a tournament is a tournament. Going out, especially, you know, for a top player to go out on the court, regardless of the, say, the level of competition or the category of the event, you always are, you know, expected to deliver. You know, people come and they pay tickets, they watch you play. TV broadcast, everything is there. There is that level of responsibility that you’re aware of.
Of course it’s up to you how you deal with it and how you carry that, but for me it’s always about how I feel personally and whether or not I’m enjoying my tennis life and enjoying playing tennis. That’s the No. 1 priority, but it’s not only about me. And this is something that I’m very, very much conscious of. And I try to -- even though if I don’t try to pay attention to that, it’s there.
As soon as you arrive, the people come and greet you. You know, they have their expectations of your performance on that certain tournament. So that is no different here nor Wimbledon or any other event, for that matter.
Q. Do you think Eastbourne could become a permanent or regular fixture in your pre-Wimbledon warmup if you’ve enjoyed it so much?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wouldn’t make that promise, because it was a particular situation this year, although I wouldn’t rule it out, considering the nice experience I have had so far this year. It just really depends. I’m not accustomed to play in the week just before the start of the Grand Slams, but I still will not rule it out, of course, for next year.
Q. Have you ever been attacked by a seagull on court before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, wow, yeah, that’s actually -- it happened few times here and there in certain tournaments, but not to this extent. They are really regular visitors to the tennis courts and they love to fly low.
Q. Gaël has just gone up a break. Also Richard. Can you just give us a few words on either matchup for you.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Gaël, he’s such a dynamic player and unpredictable. He’s got an overall game. He’s got a full package, if you want to call it that way.
He’s so athletic. He has a big, big serve. Of course moves around the court very well. Plays well at the net, as well. Returns. If things come together for him and if he really wants to, you know, perform well that day, he can be really tough. I mean, he can beat anyone, especially with that serve. I mean, if he has a high percentage of first serve, and I have seen today a little bit of the match, current match, and, you know, he serves 130-plus miles regularly, first serve, that’s huge. So, you know, it depends a lot on how he feels, how he serves.
I have played him many times before, so I have very good head-to-head, but I don’t think we ever played on grass. It would be a first.
And Richard, obviously somebody I have played on grass, semis in Wimbledon, actually, few years ago, and one of the nicest-looking and most accurate backhands ever. And also, he’s someone that loves to use the variety on the court. Doesn’t have as big of a serve as Monfils does, but he uses his slice well, and from back of the court, he’s as talented as you can be.
You know, I’m going to play a French player tomorrow. Preparation is the same (smiling).