An interview with Rafael Nadal (August 18, 2013)

Well done Rafa!

R. NADAL def. J. Isner 7‑6, 7‑6

THE MODERATOR:  Rafa wins his fifth ATP Masters 1000 title of the year, his 26th of his career, and moves to No.2 in the Emirates ATP rankings.  Questions, please?

Q.  Rafa, it seemed like it was a very emotional victory for you, you know, falling to your back after match point.  Can you describe what was going through your mind at that time and what this title means to you? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, it means a lot, being able to win two straight titles, two Masters 1000 on hard backtoback is just amazing for me.
I never did something like this in all my career.  So it was an emotional moment for so many different facts.  First of all, I won a very important tournament, Masters 1000.  Second thing, after all the problems that I had, I mean, it was just two weeks in a row on hard playing at the highest level.
Then the ranking is there.  So a lot of points.  I was playing for a lot of points this week.  And I’m in a good position.

Q.  Rafa, the last time somebody won Montreal and Cincinnati, the guy won also the US Open.  Do you know that? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  It was Roddick, 2003.  I just know that.  It doesn’t matter anyhow. 
The only thing that means that is I am playing well and hopefully I can continue playing well in the US Open in a week.  That’s the only thing that means.  That’s my goal, and I’m going to rest for two days.  I’m going to practice on Wednesday for the first time in New York, and I’m going to work hard during the first few days to be ready for that.
It is a nice feeling to arrive to the US Open with two victories in two very difficult tournaments.  And it is nice arrive there knowing that, if I am able to keep continuing, keep playing like this, hopefully, I have the chance to have a good result.

Q.  What problems does Isner’s serve present beyond the obvious speed, especially on the hard court? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  All ones.  He’s very tall.  So his angles are impossible to return sometimes.  The speed is high, but at the same time, the spin is very difficult now because, if I go to turn inside, it’s very difficult to read how the ball is coming.  Then if I go 4 meters, 5 meters behind‑‑ and that’s what I tried for a lot of moments‑‑ I’m still hitting the ball, you know, 1 meter over my shoulders.
He was hitting great forehands.  So the problem for a lot of times was not a question of put the ball inside, and that’s it.  The question is I need a good shot because, if not, he was having a lot of winners with his tournament.
Then I started to return with the slice, got a little bit on the return.  I tried different things, but I didn’t have the breakpoint during the whole match.  I had one Love‑30, important one, but he had the great serve, and then I didn’t return back that second serve.
But forehand winner in the first shot, probably he was a little bit lucky there because I felt like he didn’t hit the forehand perfect, that one, but I was lucky in a lot of other moments in the match.
So the match was very, very close and decided in just a few balls.

Q.  Rafa, I know you’ve had tough matches against John before, but do you feel like he’s become a more complete player? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I always thought that.  I always thought that.  With his serve, with his forehand, without having bad movements‑‑ no, we’re talking about a player who isover, to me‑‑ not a bad backhand.
I really don’t know why he’s not very close to the top 10 and fighting for top positions.  I really don’t know.  Every time that I see the ranking and I see him not very close to the top positions really surprise me because he has a big advantage.
He knows that, in most of the matches, he already has the tiebreak, and that’s amazing because then he’s not a bad player from the baseline.  He can have breaks.

Q.  Now, after last year missing a lot because of the injury and coming back and having a phenomenal year, not that you need motivation from your internal self to want to win, but how have the fans both on the court and their response, on Facebook and Twitter, to this great year helped you and made it even sweeter? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Oh, it’s just‑‑ the support that I am receiving and I receive during this period of time, that was very important to me.  It means a lot to me, all of the positive energy that I receive from the fans, from people who is close to me, to the team or the family.
In the lower moments, it’s very important to feel the love of the people, and I felt that as soon as I came back on every court that I am playing.
That for me is great.  I feel the support of the people, and it’s been one of the more emotional years of my career, no doubt about that.

Q.  Rafa, in your experience, why is it so difficult to win both Canada and Cincinnati back to back?  Is it the different conditions, different balls, time of the season? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Best rivals.  Masters 1000s‑‑ always difficult for me to say that because I am the one who has more, but it’s very difficult to win a Masters 1000.
We play from the first round against the best players in the world, top 50 players in the world.  In other kinds of tournaments, you can have good draws.  Here you cannot have good draws.
So winning back‑to‑back tournaments is, first of all, difficult because, first thing, the courts are not exactly the same.  The weather conditions are not exactly the same.  The rivals brings your body and your tennis to the limit.  It’s very difficult to be‑‑ you need to be 100% focused during the two weeks and playing every day.
So I was lucky.  I was close to losing against Roger the other day.  I was close to losing against Novak in Montreal.  I was close today.
So I was able to save a few matches that were very, very close.

Q.  Rafa, this year you won more Masters 1000 on hard court than on clay.  That’s a little bit surprising, no? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  On clay, we only had three.  I won two, and I played the final.  The results on clay were amazing.  On hard, I play three, I won all three.  Is only one more match.  That’s all.
I think it’s just a coincidence, in my opinion.  No doubt that I am better player on clay than on hard.

Q.  Maybe improving on hard court, what I mean. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I think I improve during all my career on hard.  It’s true that winning two tournaments in a row back to back is great, and I never did in the past.  But at the same time, it’s true that, when I was playing very well, my top level of tennis on hard, I had a good success during the past.
So sometimes what makes a difference for me is sometimes to win on clay, I don’t need to play at my highest level.  Playing a little bit not perfect, I still have chances to win.  On hard, I need to play very well to win.
So when play very well, it’s very difficult to have the perfect feeling.  So that makes a difference.  That’s why I win much more on clay than on hard.

Q.  Rafa, when you’re facing a player like John with a big serve like that, what do you tell yourself to play calm in those tiebreak moments? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  You cannot play calm in those tiebreak moments.  Just to try to wait for your moment.  The only thing that I was saying to me is just be patient, be there, be with the right attitude, wait for your moment.  You are playing well.
The serve is not in your hands.  His serve is not in your hands.  You cannot do nothing.  I say yesterday in press conference, if he’s serving well, you cannot do nothing.
So try to not be frustrated for that situations, be positive.  Enjoy that I am in a final of a tournament that I never have been and then try to be very focused with my serve.  I cannot have mistakes with my serve against him.
I didn’t.  He had a few opportunities, but I think I serve it well.  That’s what‑‑ that’s the way that I’m thinking when I play a match like this.

Q.  Rafa, when you look at the top 30 and you look at some of the younger guys, do you kind of pick out Raonic, Janowicz, and Dimitrov as maybe the next wave of future champions?  Or are they the ones that stick out to you? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I didn’t understand.

Q.  Raonic, Jerzy Janowicz, and Grigor Dimitrov‑‑ do you see them as the next wave of future champions in the game? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Somebody going to win.  We will be not here‑‑ we’re not going to be here forever.

Q.  Are they the guys you would pick out or somebody else you see? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t know which young players are coming after them, but they are great players.  They are players, very dangerous.
Janowicz is having a great season.  He’s already‑‑ he already played the semifinals at Wimbledon.  He already played the finals on Masters 1000 in Paris last year.
Raonic, he was able to play a final last week at home.  That’s a lot of confidence for him.  He’s a very, very dangerous player.  And Dimitrov has everything to be in the top.  I’m sure they will be in the top.
They are like 22, 22, 23, something like this.  They’re still young, but they should start to have chances to win important tournaments even if we are here.  That’s my feeling.
So they will have probably, I don’t know, the end of the year, this year, but next year.  The normal evolution and the history says that’s going to happen.

Q.  Last week you came from Montreal saying you didn’t know what to expect and you were prepared that you could have lost early.  But now in two weeks, you played ten matches and also played some doubles.  How do you feel physically?  How are you progressing from a physical point of view, and how does this affect you going into New York? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t know.  You never know what’s going on.  New York is a different week.  I won two important titles for me.
The physical performance, when you come back to the competition after seven weeks without playing tennis and without having the chance to practice a lot, always the beginning is tougher, but playing a lot of matches, you are more fit.
For me, it was the perfect preparation for the US Open.  You like to talk about the US Open.  I don’t like to talk about US Open when we are in Cincinnati or when we are in Montreal.  These tournaments don’t deserve to be preparation for others.  Masters 1000 are one of the most important tournaments of the season.
Then I will be thinking of New York in a few days.  So if you ask me which way you want to enter the US Open, I will tell you that’s the perfect way to enter the US Open.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to play a great US Open.
Only thing it really means is I was playing great during these two weeks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. great answers to Mary Joe questions, Rafa is such a true gentleman and I don’t see why Djoker dad says he is jealous of Novak! I don’t think Rafa and Roger are jealous of Novak at all they all have their time for tennis and This is definitely Novak time, he’s a great player and a fighter. Good luck Rafa in the U.S. Open

  2. Has anyone answered questions so thoughtfully and thoroughly. Rafa has important points of advice for even his opponents. He speaks honestly about the pros and cons of not only his own game but also his opponents game. When they are younger than him he has encouraging words for his rivals. Every time he speaks or gives an interview it is with interest. He is not just sitting there because it is something he ‘has’ to do and so he must sit through it and be polite. You are truly a complete human being, an amazing role model for the players of tomorrow and also your fellow competitors, many of whom can surely take a lesson from you on how to behave as human beings and good sportsman.

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