Rafa talks about his time violation, Nalbandian’s retirement, and his emotional victory on Lotus court at the Beijing Olympics.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. In the first set you guys broke serve five times and none in the second. Talk about what you did to adjust and settle into your second serve game a little bit more.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s true that the ball and the conditions out there makes the serve not easy because the balls are heavy. The thing is his return was just amazing. I started playing great. I think played a great match. But in the first break that he had, he break me in the 2‑0, 2‑1. He played great. I didn’t serve bad, but his return was amazing. When you have a player in front of you that is decided to play completely aggressive and the balls are going with the right directions, it’s very difficult to stop. So I am not Karlovic or Isner that the return not going to come back. I am a player who play the point from the baseline, and sometimes serve helps. Today the serve, in my opinion, helped in the important moments. But it’s true that his level of tennis I think was just brilliant tonight. I won because I played a great match. If not, I would not be here with a victory.
Q. One of your good friends on tour just announced his retirement. Can you talk about that?
RAFAEL NADAL: You’re talking about Nalbandian?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, he had an amazing career. I think with his level of tennis he should win more than what he did. So he was a little bit unlucky, in my opinion, with the injuries, and probably for the that reason he decided to stop. I am happy to play against him his last match of his career in Argentina in Córdoba and then in Buenos Aires for his retirement. Will be for me a big honor to play the last match of Nalbandian in his country, because he’s a good friend and he’s one of the more talented players that tennis has seen in the last 15, 20 years. So it’s an important lose for the world of tennis in general, and it’s very big lose for the Argentina tennis and Latin America tennis.
Q. So early on in the second set on a pretty important point, it seemed, you received a slow play violation. Do you feel you were playing particularly slow at that point, or was that surprising to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Probably. Probably I was slow. I don’t have any doubt that he put me a warning for the second time because I was slow. The question is not this. The question is ‑‑ I know I need to improve on that. I know I need to be faster. I did later in the match. But at the same time, it’s true that if you want to see good points, you need to recover. For the spectators, for the fans, it’s better if the players are in perfect condition every time that you will play the next point. It’s not because I feel tired after the point. It’s because I sweat a lot and the humidity is high here. I need to dry myself. Sometimes when the court is big and long after the baseline, it’s not the fault of the ball boys, but it’s true that things goes slower than what I would like to. So just accept that situation. I think I need to improve. But at the same time, the umpire can see better, in my opinion, the things that sometimes is not only my fault.
Q. Talking about the difficulties of a late match, you are scheduled second in the night session, so it’s going to be very late when you finished. Talk about the difficulty of the conditions and did the weather affect you tonight?
RAFAEL NADAL: The balls?
Q. No, no.
RAFAEL NADAL: Cold?
Q. It’s cold and windy and late.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, was not windy on court. The stadium is really close and it’s difficult to create a lot of windy in this stadium.
I don’t see a difficult conditions tonight. Just I said because of the condition here, the humidity is high and it’s a little bit cold, so that makes the balls slower. This kind of ball, in my opinion, lost a little bit of quality the last few years, so it’s something that ATP need to check. I am not sure if they will do it. (Laughter.)
Q. I was wondering if in your mind somewhere don’t you think it could be the good year for you to at least win the Masters? In 2010 you won the US Open, and the same year you reached the final of the Masters Cup winning a set against Federer. Don’t you make a connection between the two events?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I don’t make no one connection on that. The only connection I can see is I am playing well on hard courts and winning a lot of matches on this kind of surface. Hopefully that will help me to be ready for a very tough tournament. And talking seriously, is the worst conditions for me, indoor and hard. I will not say the conditions are very bad for me, but is better for the opponents that I will have there. So that makes the tournament very difficult. Remain a lot of weeks, so we will see how things going to go. But it’s in my mind. It’s in my mind arrive in better conditions than ever there. But you never know. I played a lot of matches in very concentrate period of time. Sometimes happen that I arrive there with very low energy emotionally and physically. I really hope that this year going to be a different history and I will be ready for the battles and for the competition. But even like this, if I am full of energy and my tennis is not better than ever, it’s very difficult to have a chance there because we have to add the complication that the surface is more difficult for me. When the surfaces are more difficult for one player, that doesn’t mean you won’t have chances to win. That means that to win you have to play better than usual. So that’s what I going to try. But I going to try. I going to try to be ready. (Smiling.)
THE MODERATOR: Chinese questions, please.
Q. When you participated in the China Open for the first time you won the title. Now it’s the 10th anniversary. Over the past ten years, what are the changes and the progress that the China Open has made?
RAFAEL NADAL: A lot of things have changed, no? Every year improves a lot. I was not able to see the new stadium, but it was a great stadium. Probably best stadium on a 500 event. So it’s great, no? Just great news that a big country and very important country in the world like China is supporting a lot of sport in general, and our sport, tennis, having two big tournaments back to back, Beijing and Shanghai. So for me, emotionally the other court is very important. It’s one of the, you know, big moments of my career in the other stadium in the Olympics 2008. So it’s a little bit nostalgic that I have no chance to play there. But anyway, the new stadium is great. I am just enjoying the week. Only thing I can do is congratulate the tournament, because it’s one of the best 500s of the year. I am sure on that.
Q. After you practice, you released news that Lotus Court is the place you win the title in 2008. Do you want to go back to the Lotus Court to win the title this year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s not the center court anymore. (Smiling.) I like to play in the center court. This stadium is great. The memory of that court is really amazing, winning Olympics with a lot of sport supporters in the crowd, a lot of competitors of the Spanish Olympic family there, a lot of friends. So win the Olympic gold medal in front of a lot of friends that I met in the Olympic Village was one of the most emotional things that happened in my career. Winning the Olympic gold medal for my country is just amazing. I always say the same: It’s the most difficult tournament to win for anyone in the career because probably you only have one, two or maximum three really chances to compete well. You have to be ready one of these two chances. So I had the chance. The only time I was able to compete in good conditions and with real chances to win a medal, I played one of my best weeks and I won the Olympic gold. So Beijing and this center court will always be‑‑ this court, not center court anymore‑‑ will be always in my mind.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports