An interview with Rafael Nadal (August 8, 2013)

R. NADAL/J. Janowicz 7‑6, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Good victories on hard courts.  Congratulations.

RAFAEL NADAL:  I think I had a very good victory today against a very difficult opponent.  I’m very happy.  I did a few things well during the match, a few things that I need to improve a little bit more.

But in general I am pleased the way I played against a very tough opponent.  So is a great victory for me, important one.

Q.  What is tough about that opponent?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Almost everything, no?  His serve is huge.  His forehand and backhand can be very dangerous.  When he plays with a little bit of regular shots, he will become a very difficult player to beat.  He is today.

But I felt today he played a little bit more up and down.  If he is able to maintain the right level during whole match will be, you know, a player that will be in the very top positions.

Q.  Next you have Matosevic.  He’s been doing very good lately.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, he’s playing great.  I know he’s a good player.  He already played a good tournaments on hard.  He had good results in the past.  I played against him in Monte‑Carlo this year I think.  He’s a dangerous player.  I know he can play at very high level.

Today he had a great victory against a very tough opponent, Benoit Paire.

Q.  Boris Becker years ago used to talk about the future of tennis and used to say that eventually the sport would be dominated by guys the size of Jerzy, very tall guys.  It hasn’t happened.  The best players now are still guys your size.  When you see a guy play like he does and moves pretty well for a man his size, do you think that’s a possibility as athletes continue to get bigger, stronger, taller?

RAFAEL NADAL:  The dynamic of the game and the evolution of the game is going this way.  Every time, the best players are taller.  At the same time Andy is 190, Novak close.

My feeling is if these kind of players have the ability to learn a few things and to understand how to play the points, they have a big advantage.  So I am surprised that Isner is not closer to the top 10, for example.  He’s a player that when I saw him and played him in Indian Wells long time ago, I say that he will be top 10 soon.

Is a surprise for me because at the end a player like him, he knows that without do much, he has a good chance to go to a tiebreak.  That is a big advantage.

You are able to improve a little bit the return, to play the points the right way when you have your chances, you know, you are in a very good position to win a lot of matches without many problems.

But that’s my feeling.  The real thing is another thing.

Q.  Do you feel when you play a long match against a player who is taller, that the longer the match goes, because of your movement, that you can grind them down a little bit?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Maybe.  I don’t know.  But what I said is what I think.  But the real thing is the best players of the world are the players who are able to move very well around, have fantastic movements, the players who has good control of the ball, players who are able to understand well how to play this game.

If you look around, all the top players are not very, very tall guys, and players who try to hit every ball very hard.  They are players who play with a great rhythm, but knowing what to do in every moment.

So my feeling is if these kind of players learn a little bit more, they have an advantage.  But today the game is still moving, you know, in a way that the best players are the players who really have the best control of the ball from the baseline.

Q.  With everything you’ve been able to accomplish, then Roger’s career résumé, Novak, and Andy, 20 years from now, how do you think this era in men’s tennis will be perceived?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I always say the same.  I don’t like to be arrogant.  I don’t like to talk about a part of the history of tennis where I am involved because going to sound very arrogant if I say this era is great.  A lot of eras are good.  We had a lot of fantastic years in tennis.

I think this era is special because the best players of the world, they have the ability to be in the final rounds of most of the tournaments.  That’s create a classic matches, good battles.

But at the end there is very qualified people from the press, from past players, can analyze much better this era than me that I’m inside, that I’m involved in.

Q.  To be doing what you’re doing against this type of opponent, you appreciate it a little bit more knowing you’re going against Roger Federer, one of the all‑time greats?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t understand.

Q.  Do you appreciate what you’ve been able to accomplish knowing how strong the field is, especially at the top?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I repeat that hundreds of times, no?  I did in my tennis career much more than what I ever dreamed.  So, sure, today I am able to enjoy.  At the same time you always want more.  Always you will try to find solutions for improve your game.

I cannot say I am happy about what I did, and that’s all.  I can say I am very happy about what I did.  Is much more than what I dreamed.  But my goal is still having chances to compete against best players of the world and to compete for the best tournaments of the world.  I am going to work on that for the future.

Q.  Some of the players have complained the ball is different at this tournament.  Has it affected your game at all or your strategy?

RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  The ball is strange.  Personally I don’t like the ball.  But is what there is.  We have to play with this ball.  The ball is the same for everybody.  That’s a good thing.

But is true that is difficult to understand that having a few tournaments in a row in America in hard court, American hard court season, North America, we are in Canada today, but is difficult to understand why we are not playing with the same ball.

Q.  Do you have any power to change that?  Does the player’s union try to get together?  How do they determine what ball to use?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I’m a little bit tired on all of these fights.  But is something not fair that we can play with the same balls from here to the US Open, not play with one ball here, the same ball next week, then the US Open with another ball.  At the end that repeats the history of long time ago.  But is dangerous for the shoulder, for the elbow, for the joints.  Is more dangerous have these kind of changes.

Q.  What is your complaint about the ball exactly?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I say I personally don’t like.  I think that the ball change a lot in very few games.  When you will go for practice, after 10 minutes, the ball is a completely different ball from the beginning.  When you play with a good ball, the ball, you know, can change but always in the same direction.

This ball, sometimes one ball gets bigger, another ball comes smaller.  You know, seems are not like completely similar and don’t react the same way, all the balls.  That’s the strange thing.

Q.  In terms of your objectives for 2013, is reaching No. 1 at the end of the season still something you believe you can achieve?  Is that high on your priority list?

RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  If I have to defend or I don’t have to defend, doesn’t matter about finish the year No. 1.  The only thing that matters is the race.  From the race, I am in a good position, not in a perfect one.  I am No. 1 in the race today.  I have around 700 points of difference between me and Novak, then I have like 2000 between me and Andy.

But is true that the first round lose in Wimbledon and not play in Australian Open, have two zeros in Grand Slams is a lot.  And now starts the hard court, and then later the indoors.

I know I can play well in these kind of surfaces.  But my opponents sometimes are more specialists than me in this kind of surface.  But always depends.

I can be at the end of the season No. 1?  Yes.  I am the favorite?  Probably not.  But if you ask me is one of my goals.  My goal is finish the season being healthy, that is my priority.  I want this season much more than I ever thought five months ago.

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