An interview with RAFAEL NADAL (June 3, 2013)

TENNIS – 2013 Roland Garros – Nadal d Nishikori 6-4 6-1 6-3

Q.  You played against Kei before, but this is first time on the clay court.  So did you have a different impression about Kei today?

RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  I think he plays aggressive.  He’s a very fast player.  He has the ability to take the ball very early, and that’s difficult.  He makes that very easy.
So, no, the most difficult things about tennis he has.  So just if he’s able to play a little bit more consistent, sometimes that’s the only thing I think that he can improve.  Because the rest of the things, very good backhand, very good forehand, he’s quick, he has the chance to play inside the court.
Not many problems to keep doing good results.

Q.  You said on Saturday you thought you needed to be more calm.  Today you seem to be moving better.  Did you have that today?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah.  That’s the real thing.  I played much better today than the first three matches, no doubt about that.  I started to have feelings with my forehand when I had a chance to hit my forehand.  I started to change directions well.  I started to feel that I can hit the ball longer and having more confidence in every stroke.
My feeling was today when I was hitting my forehand that I don’t want to miss the ball.  First few days when I was hitting my forehand my feeling was I don’t know if the ball gonna go inside or outside.
That’s an improve.  I say the other day I need to improve.  I improve today.  You cannot pass to play bad and to play perfect, but I was playing bad.  Today I played a little bit better than normal.
I need to play well this match.  That’s the real thing, no?
Seriously if you told me two days ago you will play like this today, I will say, Give me the paper and I will sign, because I’m happy the way I improved my game today.

Q.  Congratulations, Rafa.  Congratulations on both today’s victory and also your birthday.  So does the fact of playing on your birthday give you extreme motivation?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  (Laughter.)
No, no, that’s not ‑‑ the motivation is be in front of full crowd on Chatrier, playing Roland Garros.  You cannot have more motivation than that, no?

Q.  It’s been many years since you’ve played doubles at a Grand Slam.  Could you imagine a time when you might play singles, doubles, and maybe even mixed doubles at a Grand Slam?

Q.  Yeah.
RAFAEL NADAL:  When I don’t have chances.  The day that I arrive to Grand Slam and I feel I have not one chance to compete for everything, why not?  Today is not my moment to play singles, doubles, and mixed, especially after ‑‑ well, especially nothing.  It’s not my moment, because you cannot play doubles when you have longer matches.  You can do it, but I think I am not ready to do it today.  That’s the real thing.

Q.  Absolutely.  I have always seen you are a true gentleman, one of the best ambassadors of tennis, and you’re extremely complimentary about your opponents, especially Roger.  You have said many times Roger is the greatest player in the history.
RAFAEL NADAL:  That’s what the number says.

Q.  You have a winning record against a player in his era; you have beaten him like 20 times out of 30.  You have an 8‑2 average over him in Grand Slams, and you beat him on every surface.  You beat him on grass, his backyard, many times in clay, and in the Australian Open on hard.  How do you define him in your heart?  If you really ask yourself and if you want to be diplomatic, would you say that you truly believe he’s the greatest when you have such a fantastic record against him?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Okay.  I think the head‑to‑head are important.  Not really, no.  Head‑to‑head‑are important to win titles, to win important matches.  That’s all.
At the end, if you play a league and, for example, I don’t know, Chelsea beat Manchester United in both matches during the season, but Manchester United won the Premier League, the better team is Manchester United.  That’s an example.
When Roger have 17 Grand Slams and, you know, a lot of records on his shoulders, not because he has a negative head‑to‑head against me, gonna be very arrogant and very stupid for me say that today I have a comparation with him, because I think that cannot happen.
I am happy about what I achieved.  I am happy about what I am winning.  But Roger have better numbers than me, and that’s the real thing. Nobody have more Grand Slams than him.  He’s the guy with more weeks in the history in the No. 1, I think.
So these kind of record says that he’s the best of the history.  Numbers are for that.

Q.  Let me go back to today’s match.  First game in the first set you are behind 15‑40, but you managed to serve and save these two break points with amazing serve.  So how much are you satisfied with your serve, especially today’s match?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I think I didn’t lose a serve during all my match, so that’s always a positive thing.  And, well, I just saved a few break points.  That’s important, because that says that I am a little bit more calm.  That’s what I used to be during the first week.
And in general, for my serve I will say I didn’t serve bad.  I didn’t serve fantastic, but I like to talk about more generic things in general.  I improved a little bit on ‑ more than a little bit in every way.  That’s the most important thing.

Q.  Do you expect you will beat Novak Djokovic in the semis?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I expect the quarterfinals against Wawrinka or Gasquet.  I don’t expect semifinals before quarterfinals.

Q.  I have two questions for you.  The first:  I don’t know whether it’s the first time that you have been given a birthday cake.  Are you happy?  And my second question then.  (Question regarding leaving a club in Mallorca.)
RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, first off, I’m very grateful to Roland Garros for the birthday cake.  I’m delighted they gave me an opportunity to enjoy such emotionally charged moment.
I was very pleased on the Chatrier Court.  It’s not really the time to talk about when I left or not, because Mallorca, the Mallorca club, well, I left it.  I liked that club.  I have a great deal of respect for it.  It’s not the time to talk about that now.
It’s logical that you put the question to me, admittedly, but I think you’ll have to analyze the situation.  But it’s not up to me to do that analysis about why I left the Mallorca club.  For a two‑year period I provided the club ‑‑ almost two years I gave that club my resolute support.  In my view, one or two things weren’t done properly.  That’s it.
And then with regard to the shareholders and the shareholder structure, I mean, I left, but I remain a supporter of the club.  It’s a shame for the Mallorca club because I like it a lot.
The islands and the municipality are very important.  It’s a gold standard for tourists in Spain.  And the fact they don’t have a first‑division team is a thorny issue.
But I hope things will calm down, settle down, so that we’ll be able to make sure that we can make sure that the team can re‑enter the first division and can sharpen the edge of that competitiveness.
You can look at Santander, for example.  We don’t want to suffer their fate.  Everybody tries to make sure that people don’t enjoy a bad fate.  I mean, you need to do things properly to revive that team.

Q.  Nishikori, as other players, for that matter, tried to do a crosscourt backhand on your forehand.  I don’t know whether you managed to defend yourself despite that strategy.
RAFAEL NADAL:  To be honest with you, I don’t know how to put it, really.  You know, if I strike my balls well with my forehand crosscourt high, then things go well.
If I defend well or not, well, that’s another issue altogether.  I’m not striking the ball as I used to.  In other words, I don’t put them as high.  I don’t slice them as high as before.
I don’t think you should be too unfair.  I don’t think you should find excuses, really.  And I think with that in mind I’m playing better.
What I need to work on is my forehand, a powerful forehand, and to make sure that I’m less attacked on that.



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