An interview with Rafael Nadal (November 10, 2013)

Jan Kruger/Getty Images Europe
Jan Kruger/Getty Images Europe

R. NADAL/R. Federer 7‑5, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Is it more satisfying to be in the final of a Masters or to beat Federer for the first time on an indoor surface?  Do you think today Federer played well, not well, you played very well? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Always is the same, no?  Most satisfying thing always is the tournament more than the personal victories.  So for me is more important be in the final in the last tournament of the year than I have the chance to win against Roger, no?
I think the tournament is important one.  So to be able to win the final is much more important than any victory against any opponent.
I think Roger played really aggressive, that’s my feeling.  The beginning, his serve worked very well.  My feeling is in the first set, he played very well.  He was closer than me to have the break.  So in my opinion until 4‑All, he was playing better than me, in my opinion.
I saved a few important breakpoints, very important ones, and then I played a good game when I had the break.  Especially I played with good determination the breakpoint.  I think I played a great point in the first breakpoint.
The key of the match was probably the 5‑All after he had the break back in the first set when I was serving for the set.  Had the break another time.  Put 6‑5 in my favor.  That was very important.

Q.  Yet another final for you here in London.  Is it fair to say you’re getting used to this surface?  Are you going to be 100% for tomorrow?  Can you think about the final you played with Roger a few years back to now?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Every year is different.  Is very difficult to say or make comparisons between years.  I never did.
Anyway, most important thing for me is in the toughest surface for me to play, most difficult one, for me was able to win four matches against top‑eight players.  That’s a great new for me.  Is a very good way to finish the year.
Now remain the last match.  I hope to be ready for that.  I know gonna be difficult one.  But will try my best.  I need to play my best match to have a chance tomorrow against both opponents, and I will try.  That’s all.

Q.  How much would it mean to you to end your year by winning for the first time ever the World Tour Finals?
RAFAEL NADAL:  For me means a lot every match.  Means a lot every tournament.  Is true that this tournament is special and I never had the chance to win here.
So will be great if any year I have the chance to finish the year with a victory.  But I know remain a lot of work, probably the most difficult one.  And that’s fine, no?  I think if I don’t play my best tomorrow, I don’t gonna have chances.  I need to play more aggressive.
It’s true that today I tried to play aggressive from the beginning, but is very difficult to play aggressive against a player who try to go for the shots in every ball.  So we’ll see tomorrow how it is, the match.

Q.  People talk about Roger as the greatest player in history.  But you’ve beaten him 22 times out of 32 matches.  You’re five years younger than him, and you’re only four Grand Slams short of him.  I know you’re a very modest person.  When you hear people talking about Roger as the greatest of all time, do you ever sometimes just think, Maybe people should be talking about me like that?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I am the first one who says that.  I don’t have any feeling when I heard that from other people because I believe is 100% fair that people say that because he is today, and will be very difficult to any player to improve his numbers.
Always say the same:  is not fair to analyze the history of any player only for the Grand Slams.  Everyone who is around this world knows that the tennis is not only the Grand Slams.  There is a lot of things outside the Grand Slams.  Roger have an unbelievable records outside of Grand Slams.  For sure, in Grand Slams, he the player who win more.
But I never saw play Rod Laver, but I know his history.  He was away of playing the Grand Slams for a few years because he became professional.  He was able to win all four before and all four after.  So today the question is not about me or Roger, will be more about Rod Laver or Roger.  But I never had the chance to see Rod Laver play.
And talking about my career, I have 27.  I did more than what I ever dreamed.  I hope to keep having chances to keep winning.  I gonna work for that.  And hopefully when I finish my career, we’ll see where I am in the history of tennis.

Q.  You played Roger many times in your career.  What do you feel he struggles with in his game compared to perhaps five years ago? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I think he finished the season playing much better than what he did for the most of the time.  I think he started the season playing well in Australia.  Is tough.  Then he had problems on his back, I know that, in Indian Wells.  He stopped for seven weeks or eight weeks.  He didn’t play after Indian Wells until Madrid.
Is very difficult when you have to stop for injury or when you have to make a different calendar for an injury.  Is difficult to be back and play at your best.  Even like this, he was able to play the final in Rome.
But he still got probably, especially after Roland Garros, even if he won Halle, after the lose in Wimbledon, probably he didn’t had a very good months after that, playing not his best in Cincinnati and playing not his best in the US Open.  He was not able to play very well in Shanghai.  But after that he’s able to play much better.
He played a good tournament in Basel again, playing a good final, winning good matches.  He was able to win very good matches last week in Paris.  He was in semifinals here, losing against probably the player who is playing better today ‑ like is Novak ‑ losing three sets in both tournaments in a row, having set and a break up for him in Paris, winning against del Potro who is a player that is playing great, winning twice in a row against him.
So I think he should be, you know, happier about the way he finished the season than compared how he was three months ago.  I am sure today he was a little bit tired about the match of yesterday.  Is normal what happened at the end.  So I am sure that he will have the chance to start the next season with full conditions and he will be one of the candidates to win in Australia.

Q.  You said he was playing crazy today and going for winners almost on every shot. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I never say ‘crazy’.  I think he play very aggressive and going for the shots in every moment.

Q.  Why do you think that is?  Is that the first time he was going for shots in every moment in all the times you played him? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, no.  I played against him in indoors in the past.  He played very aggressive.  I remember 2011, he destroy me here, 6‑3, 6‑0.  He played unbelievable.  He hit I don’t know how many winners.  Is true that I was not playing well.  But he went for the shots, for the winners, in every shot.  He had big success with this mentality.
I felt against him on indoor always he was trying to play aggressive against me, putting me a lot of pressure.  And the surface adapts to this strategy better than when you play outdoors.  When you play outdoors, points can be longer, so then you can became tired if you play this strategy, no?
But here, lot of times you find the success trying to play this way.

Q.  Tennis is always changing and evolving and improving.  This season again we’ve seen the same group of players winning all the big tournaments, all the Masters tournaments.  Next year, do you expect to see some of the young guys, maybe 23 and younger, to start pushing you, Raonic, Dimitrov, Janowicz, or do you think they’re far away from being able to challenge the top guys? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  You never know.  Is very difficult to predict the future, very difficult to know what’s going to happen next year.
But what’s happened the last probably six years, seven years, not going to be forever.  We don’t going to be where we are forever.  So one day, the next generation will catch us and will beat us and will be the best players.  I don’t know if will be next year.  Hopefully not (smiling).
But I am ready for that.  I know I not going to be where I am, being in the top positions, forever.  I understand that’s a question of time, and that will happen.  I don’t know when.

Q.  You’ve somewhat downplayed your chances this week due to the form of other players coming in and the surface.  Given the week that you’ve had, you’re going to finish the year at world No.1, you just have beaten the most successful player in this format for the first time, you have a longer rest than the player you play in the final tomorrow, are you convinced yet that you’re the favorite for this competition?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Playing the final at 8:00 in the afternoon tomorrow not going to affect nothing.  If you have the match, for example, at 2:00 or something like this, or 3:00, you play a match this afternoon, probably the player who going to win probably going to be in a little bit worse position than me.
That’s not the case.  The winner will have a chance to sleep well in the morning.  I don’t think will make not make any difference in that.
We’ll see what’s going on tomorrow.  I was able to play better and better a little bit every day during the tournament.  We’ll see if tomorrow I have the chance to play better than what I did.  If that’s happens, I hope to have my chance.

Q.  You just played Wawrinka this past week.  You played Djokovic quite a bit on hard courts this year.  How do you see that match going tonight?  Do you have a prediction of that match?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Favorite is Novak.  Wawrinka is the kind of player that if he has his day, is very dangerous for everybody.  So Wawrinka can win, yes.  The favorite is Djokovic, yes.
That’s that simple.  The sport, you have to write a lot of papers, but is simple.  If Wawrinka have the chance to play his best match, he will have his chance.  If not, will have much less chances.
Is true that Wawrinka is playing more aggressive than ever.  He has the serve and the game to win against everybody if he is able to play his best.  We’ll see.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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