R. NADAL/T. Berdych
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Rafa, second set you had just broken to go to 3‑4, and you had a game where you actually ended up winning where you had three double faults. Key point in the match. Can you take us through that game?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was serving great during the whole tournament, especially today, serving very, very well, very comfortable myself. I didn’t suffer nothing with my serve during a set and a half.
And then later I made two bad serves that I had a bad feeling, and then I lost a little bit of the rhythm on the serve, and that distract me a little bit. So I accepted the situation, tried to find a way one more time. And even if I didn’t serve as good as I do‑‑ as I did during the first set and a half and during the previous matches, I think I was there, and I started to put balls inside at all times.
I finished the match playing aggressive with the forehand, with the backhand, and it’s great. I think I played a very good match this afternoon against a very difficult opponent who came to this match playing very well, and I have to be very, very happy about everything.
Q. What does it mean to you to be in the finals here for the first time?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s great. It’s a very nice feeling. For me, this one is a tournament that I never was able to play very well.
I said last week, in Cincinnati I never felt that I was playing well, and this year the situation is different. I feel that I am playing well, and this is something special when you play well in a place that you never did in the past. It’s something really special. I’m very happy for that.
And then I started to think that Cincinnati is a tournament that something happens on me that I cannot play well, but this year the situation is different. I am having the right feelings on court. I’m playing aggressive, and the crowd here is great.
So I just can say thank you very much, everybody.
Q. Rafa, you talked about your serves during the first question. You’ve been serving about 70% throughout the tournament, and you served seven aces today. It seems like your serving has really improved, obviously. You’ve been working hard on it. Is this the accumulation of a long time working on your serve, or is it specific to this summer that you started concentrating on your serve?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I didn’t have the chance to practice a lot during the summer because I had the problem in the elbow after Wimbledon.
I am finding sometimes it’s a question of feeling, having the right feeling on the serve. I really worked on my serve. I recall all my career trying different styles, trying different things.
But for the last three years, more or less, I am serving the same way, same style, and I think my serve is not amazing. It’s not very good, but it’s okay.
When I am serving well, I have the chance to start the point with a good situation a lot of times.
Q. Rafa, what do you think you’ve changed about your game to give you success in Cincinnati that you haven’t had before? And also, I mean, just on hard courts in general this year might be your best year on hard courts this year ever with your results.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t agree on that. Sorry. But what changed is that I’m playing well. I haven’t played well here in Cincinnati. I’ve had good success in other kinds of tournaments on hard, similar conditions to here, but here I always arrive without a good feeling. So that’s the difference.
And then, well, in the past I won a lot of matches on hard too. It’s not the first time that I’m winning matches on hard. It’s true that I won two tournaments already this year, and I’m in the final on this one.
But in the past I played very well too. I think it’s nothing new, just I am playing well and doing the things very well, playing very aggressive and enjoying the comeback after a tough period of time.
Q. Rafa, Juan Martin said that people don’t like playing John Isner, that his game is obviously a bit uncomfortable for a lot of players. Can you talk about the matchup with John and what you were expecting for tomorrow?
RAFAEL NADAL: I expect a very difficult match. Nobody likes to play against a great player, and nobody likes to play against a player who you will not have the chance to be on rhythm for most of the time.
So John is this kind of player that, in my opinion, he should be fighting for the Masters, for the top 10. Of course, with his serve, advantage is huge.
So if he’s playing well mentally and he’s making the right decisions in important moments, he’s a player that it’s very difficult to stop him. Tomorrow will be a very difficult match. I hope to be ready for that. I need to be very solid with my serve because if not, it’s impossible. I cannot have mistakes with my serve.
And then try to play aggressive, try to move him, try to wait for the opportunity and be ready for any opportunity that I gain, I can have.
That’s what I’m going to try. It’s the kind of match that the only thing that you can try is what is in your hands. What is in your hands is serve well and play solid from the baseline and play aggressive.
The rest of the things depends on him because, if he serve very well, you’re going to feel it on the return.
Q. Rafa, you have experience being successful at defending Grand Slam titles. Andy Murray’s going to try that for the first time coming up in the US Open. What kind of advice would you offer him if he asked you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not win. No, I am joking. No, Andy’s a great guy and a fantastic player. He really doesn’t need any advice.
When you come back in a tournament that you already won, my feeling is it’s not a big, big difference. The only thing that is different and will help, you did it in the past, and when you did it one time in the past, it’s easier to do it again because you know that you can do it. That’s all.
Q. Rafa, winning a match like this, making the final, what are you thinking as you’re walking to the net to shake your opponent’s hand?
RAFAEL NADAL: Just hoping that the ball was inside. That was the feeling.
It was 6‑4 and if I lose that point, you are in a tricky situation. He has the serve, and you have match point, but nothing. Just be confident.
Q. Rafa, Serena was talking. I don’t know if you know the term bucket list.
RAFAEL NADAL: What?
Q. Bucket list, like the list of things you want to do before the end of your career. She was saying she’s never won in Cincinnati, and she’s saying it’s something she wants to do before she retires. Do you have a similar list? Is Cincinnati one of those things that you’ve been waiting to do, that it would be nice to finally win here?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me, it’s nice winning everywhere in every place. I don’t have a list of the places that I want to win before I end my career. I just try my best in every week that I am playing, and then sometimes I have success, sometimes I don’t have that success.
So sorry, I don’t feel that good. I don’t consider myself that good about thinking about the tournaments that I didn’t win and mark the tournaments that I want to do it before my career. I try my best in every moment, in every tournament. 250, 500, 1000, Grand Slam‑‑ the intensity of my game doesn’t change in not one of these kind of events.
I’m going to try to win tomorrow here. I’m going to have a tough match. And after tomorrow, winning or losing, I’m going to try to prepare myself well for the US Open and then, I don’t know, Davis Cup or what’s going on.
Q. Did you feel confident throughout the match today with your‑‑
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry?
Q. Did you feel confident throughout the entire match today?
RAFAEL NADAL: In the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. If I feel comfortable?
RAFAEL NADAL: Confident about my match today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Playing the match today?
Q. Yeah. I mean, was there any point where you were doubting yourself or you thought that you might be in any trouble or anything?
RAFAEL NADAL: You always have troubles competing against the No.6 player in the world. You cannot expect in the semifinals of a Masters 1000 win, it’s easy. When I go on court against a great player like Berdych, I am ready to fight and ready to know that for moments I will not have chances and try to play my game, try to play aggressive, try to move him.
That is probably the thing that I have advantage over him. That’s all. I felt confident. I am playing well.
I played a few matches here. I had a good feeling. Yesterday was an important victory for me. I came into this match with the confidence that a victory like yesterday gives you.
And during the match, I felt for moments he was serving real well. I didn’t have a chance in the beginning of the match, and then I was serving well too. So just tried to be very focused on myself and wait my moment on the return.
That’s all. Confident or not, doubts or not, sure I have doubts, sure I am not 100% sure what’s going to happen during the match. I try to play every point with the highest intensity possible, and that’s it.
Q. Rafael, the tennis season is a long one for a lot of players, and you were out for the US Open year end championships as well as the Australian, obviously, healing your injuries. But you also got a lot of rest during that extended period of time as well. I was wondering how much getting so much rest for a lot of months at a time has contributed to your success here in 2013.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, if I am able to be healthy for the rest of the year, probably the rest is going to be positive. And then for the last eight years before the injury, I didn’t stop. I played every year long‑‑ very long seasons with very, very high intensity.
So mentally and physically, to have a period of rest and recovery, your body is great. If I am not able to stay healthy, then the rest was not positive.
When you have a period of time that I think is not success, it’s not because you didn’t play for a while. It’s because you didn’t have the chance to do what you want to do for a long time.
When you are in tough moments, in hard moments, when you are suffering, working every day, trying to recover, when you are back, the only thing you want to do is try to enjoy every moment, try to be at your 100%, play with the higher intensity and passion possible.
Because at the end, just to be here is great news. After from the place that I came, just to be here playing and competing is fantastic news. And that gives me this extra power, intensity‑‑ I don’t know how to say‑‑ to compete well. That’s all.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports