Q. How would you describe the other half of the draw?
Straight to the point (smiling). Well, you know, draw is something that you cannot affect. So I honestly wasn't thinking about it too much because it's a matter of luck and it's a matter of a coin toss, as well. It is what it is now. I mean, some people would say that I was, you know, lucky with the draw. But look, you know, it's Grand Slam, so I don't think that there is any easy way to the title, you know, or easy way to win, because the best players in the world are playing in this tournament, the most valuable, most prestigious tournament in the world. Everybody wants to play well, so I got to take it slowly and think only about my next opponent.
Q. But when you look at the other half, what are your thoughts about the talent that is in that other half?
Well, I think it's going to be a great Monday for tennis (smiling).
Q. What for you is the biggest adjustment switching from clay to grass? What do you find hardest about that? How long does it usually take you to feel comfortable on the grass? Does that maybe get easier, or has it gotten easier for you over the years?
Well, you obviously take some time, and time to adjust in our sport is something that we are truly lacking. But the schedule is what it is for all of us. It's not the first time that I find myself in the situation where I don't have any warmup grass court tournaments and I play only a few exhibition matches before Wimbledon Grand Slam. So I've done it before and I've managed to go very far and even win the title few years ago. But, you know, as a professional tennis player, I would like to have a warmup tournament, definitely, to have time. But I did not have that particular time after Roland Garros. I felt like after everything that has happened on the clay court season, I need to prioritize and rest and recovery rather than just going for the matches on the grass, which is the fastest surface in our sport, the most special surface in all tennis. We get to play only few weeks on grass. It's why it's very unique experience for all of us. Of course, playing in this tournament is a huge privilege. But adapting from the slowest to the fastest surface in only a few days is really a short time, you know. But it's been like that for a while now. Hopefully in the future we can get that extra week. I think that would help a lot to all the players.
Q. Can you point to one thing? Is it the footwork?
Yes. I think the footwork is the hardest thing, you know. Takes a bit of time to adjust because ball bounces very high on clay. You slide a lot. You play long rallies. Grass court nowadays is slower comparing to grass court maybe 15, 20 years ago when we had serve‑and‑volley players. Today it's slower and it's more suitable to the baseliners. But, on the other hand, it's still the fastest surface out of all that we have in our sport, and it requires a certain adjustment in the movement, in the footsteps, in the adjustment to the ball. So for that, it takes time.
Q. You've talked before about getting into the right mental state before a tournament. What have you done to get back into the right mental state after the French Open?
Well, just taking few days off really and trying to recharge my batteries physically and mentally ‑ and emotionally also, because I put a lot of energy and effort into winning French Open. It didn't happen, but I thought I had a great tournament. I gave my best. It was a thrilling match to be a part of with Nadal in semifinals. But, as I said, you know, I needed that few days just to, you know, relax, let the stress go and everything that I've been through. You know, kind of get another motivation to prepare well for this tournament.
Q. Speaking of that actual match against Rafa, do you go back and look at it with your team and talk about X's and O's or you leave it as it is and move on?
Yeah, of course we spoke about the match. It was, as I said, a fantastic match to be part of. Very few points decided the winner. I thought I was close to victory after being down two sets to one. He was serving for match few times, and I managed to come back and fight my way through and get to the fifth. From that moment on, it was, you know, one or two points that will decide. Unfortunately, you know, I lost that match. But I have to be proud, you know, of my efforts there and try to look at it from the positive side. There is always another year. I will definitely go back to Paris every year wanting more and more to win the title.
Q. As you're playing on grass, how much does the way you return change and how much does grass help players who don't serve that well?
Well, serve I think on the grass is essential, you know. Probably the crucial element of the game of a player here more than maybe any other surface. You need to try to have as many free points as you can on your first serves. But, of course, it's not that easy, because today I think there is a lot of good returners of the game. And, as I said, grass itself is slower than it used to be. It's more suitable to the returners and baseline players. But, you know, the game is so demanding nowadays, so complete, that you need to have the variety of shots in your game. You cannot just rely on one shot, on one serve. You need to really be 100% prepared in every aspect, every side of your game, in order to prevail and win the tournament.
Q. As the game has gotten more physical on the baseline, do you feel like the surfaces are playing the same? Is there still a real distinction between the three major surfaces to you?
Uhm, well, I think that even though there is certain similarities between, let's say, hard courts, US Open and Australian Open. There is, again, in my eyes, a significant difference because of the conditions in which we play and the environment and surrounding. You know, the balls are different. So it all affects the player, you know. It affects the game itself. Wherever you go, you have to kind of take a few days and adjust to those conditions.
Q. Can you share your thoughts on playing Florian Mayer in your first round?
Played him quarters in Wimbledon last year, so I know what to expect. He's a tricky player. He has a bit unorthodox game. He can be very dangerous on this surface. He loves playing on grass. If you look at his career, he's made his best results, I think, on grass. Strong backhand. He's tall. He can serve well. He can move around the court well. I think it's a difficult opponent for the first round. I'm ready. Every day I'm getting better on the court. I'm proceeding with my program, with my team, and hopefully I can be ready for that match.
Q. The French Open is a big target for you to complete.
To what extent does that help you relate to the demands on Andy Murray, and how much extra pressure do you think it is for him than the other members of the big four, the only player that has to play a Grand Slam on home soil? Yeah, I guess that adds a little bit of extra pressure to him because he has got huge expectations from his country, from Wimbledon in general, because they're waiting for, you know, the local winner for many years. But he's gotten much better since last year this time because he has played Wimbledon finals. He came back and won a gold medal. He won US Open. He's got already a few big titles under his belt, and he knows definitely what it takes to play on a big stage. I think he handles pressure really well. But everybody feels pressure. You know, pressure is part of what we do, part of professional sport. It's a challenge, but it's also privilege because, you know, having pressure means that you're doing something that is important, that is very valuable. You have to learn how to deal with it, you know, and accept it.
Q. The 4‑3 deuce point in the fifth set against Rafa in Paris...
Thanks for reminding of that. I hoped you would not bring that up (smiling).
Q. Have you looked at it? What are your thoughts looking back at it?
To be honest with you, I looked at it the same night and I haven't looked at it since (laughter). Well, it is what it is. I can't go back now. I tried just to turn the new page metaphorically in my head, just move on and think about what's coming next. Because, you know, if I start questioning myself, coming up with the 'what if' questions, you know, there would not be an end to that, you know, to that kind of bad feeling after that match. But, look, I lost the match. Maybe that was one of the most important points that I ever had on Roland Garros. It was unfortunate really. I haven't paid attention on the net. I ran into it. I guess the rules are rules. The chair umpire made that decision. I haven't seen where the ball bounced. My argument was that the ball bounced out of dimensions of the court, but doesn't matter. I lost the match. Now I have to move on.
Q. Seeing you play at Stoke Park this week, you're a natural entertainer on court. Is that something you feel over the years you've had to hold back in your personality to actually perform better in serious competition?
Well, thank you, first of all (smiling). I have tried all my life to be who I am. That's one of my mottos really, not pretending to be somebody else. I think that kind of character and strong position, I guess, got me to where I am. You know, I did hold back a little bit, because I think sometimes there is no time to really, you know, entertain that much. But I still feel that I am enjoying what I am doing, and I try to have fun wherever I go and as much as I can. Maybe tennis lacks that little bit of enthusiastic part of it, you know, entertainment, fun. But, you know, it's the sport that has respected its tradition and integrity for a long time. So hopefully in this modern time, we can evolve, we can do other things that are, let's say, suitable to the area where we are living.
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