An Interview With Rafael Nadal (December 30, 2013)

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Welcome back to Doha.  It feels very good to see you.  We missed you here last year.  What an incredible comeback.  You had an amazing year after your injury.  Are you happy with your achievements?  You became No. 1 again, two Grand Slams, I don’t know how many titles this year.  What would be your goals for this coming year?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, thank you very much.  Yeah, what happened is the past, so we talk enough of 2013.  Happy for everything, but in one day we are in 2014.  Let’s talk about 2014.
Excited to be back here in Doha.  It’s a place I feel very comfortable.  Have good friends here.
Last year was hard not have the chance to start the season from the beginning.  So this year is a special feeling, start again, and the goals are very similar all the time.  Just health, most important thing.  Without health, the rest is impossible.
Going to try to be competitive since the beginning.  First two events are very early for me.  I did some treatment on the knee after the end of the season, so I didn’t play ‑‑I didn’t have the chance to play tennis for a while.  But the good thing is that treatment is working really well, so I am feeling better and better every day.  So that’s most important thing for me today.  So very happy for that.
But is true that talking about how much I had the chance to practice before Abu Dhabi and before here, I started two weeks ago, two weeks and a half, and the first week I didn’t move myself, just practicing from the middle.  So realistic, I was playing for one week or something, no?
I gonna try my best.  I start today in doubles.  It will help me for a little bit for a little bit more practice and trying to practice as hard as I can during these days.  I hope to be competitive tomorrow, but if not, I gonna keep practicing hard because in two weeks that is important for me.

Q.  Just on the treatment on the knee, what was it?  Was it similar to the treatment you have had in the past?  In the past, how quickly did you recover after that treatment?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, seriously, I really felt that this one is the ‑‑I don’t know how to say in English, so it’s difficult for me to explain, but I feel that this one really make me feel more comfortable because I don’t have pain like I had, no?
So even if I was able to play very well this year, you know, is true that I played a lot of days with anti‑inflammatories.  But anyway, I was able to compete very well during the full season since I started.  That was my goal and idea, so very happy about everything.
But for the normal life, not talking about playing tennis, with normal life is true that with that last treatment I feel more comfortable on my knee during the rest of the day.  I feel that I can do much more normal life than what I did last year and a half, because at the end I was playing tennis, but for the rest, I just relaxed.
Is true that I played some golf, but not able to play in other sports, not able to, you know, to enjoy myself practicing the sports outside of tennis.  For me, that’s a very important part of my life, because I love to practice sport.  Is true that I am professional tennis player, but I feel more happy when I am able to do different things.

Q.  This treatment was the same as… 
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, it was a little bit different.  Yes.

Q.  Just following up, we all know you love football.  The state of your knee at the moment, can you kick the football?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah.  I did in Argentina.  Few penalties.  I will not do it.  I will not play a football match.  I didn’t play football for the last two years and a half.  I love to play football more than nothing else, but today I feel will not be the right decision to take risks on that, and especially the better feeling on the knees is from few weeks ago, so, you know, I am not confident on that yet.

Q.  My other question is the ATP are trying to make a longer offseason, but you don’t seem to have had any offseason because you went to South America and then you went Madrid and Paris getting awards.  How much time did you actually have in Majorca? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yes, in the end, in my opinion, my opinion about the calendar and the offseason is ‑‑the problem is not how many weeks you have offseason.  The problem is the mandatory events that you have to play until the last week of the season.  So for me will not be any problem have tournaments until 24th of December, but you don’t have to be forced to play, no?  You can choose.
If you put until 24th of December events, 1000 Masters Cup, so you are forced to play, because then if you are not playing these kind of events, you’re gonna lose a lot of chances to be in the top positions of the rankings.  So nobody wants to do it.
So my feeling is sometimes for us, even if we don’t rest a lot, is truly probably you understand very well because in our world we have sponsors, we need to do things for them.  At the end, the sponsors have the confidence on ourself, so we need to have a good response for them.  That’s what they did during December, because during the rest of the season I didn’t have a lot of time to take care of them, no?  So I had to work a little bit more than usual in December.
Talking about exhibitions, for us sometimes is important to visit places that you cannot visit during the normal tour, no?  And in the end I have the chance to visit places that I feel close to them, talking the same language, playing in places that I didn’t play them in that places for a long time ago.
I had the chance to visit some of my friends, have some holidays, too, and then when you’re playing exhibitions, you try your best when you play the match, but for the rest is a little bit like holiday for me, no?  So I enjoyed when I went there with friends, so I had fun.

Q.  How many days at home in Majorca?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I cannot say.  I was back on 27th, Majorca, and I spent since 27th of November until 25th of December I have been there almost every day.  Is true I fly to Prague to play the tournament one day.  I fly to L’Equipe to receive the award, half day.  I arrived there in afternoon and then I come back during the night.  Didn’t lose practice.
In Madrid I received award when I was coming back from South America.  So even ‑‑I didn’t lose time, no?  That’s all.  The rest I have been in Majorca.

Q.  What attitude will you take to your tournament schedule?  Will it be a little less than before?  And will you be prepared to change it if you don’t feel quite right, the number of tournaments you play?  Which tournaments will you be prepared to change that if you don’t feel right?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Tennis is you have an idea.  You have an idea before the season start, and you prepare because you have to prepare your calendar.  But in tennis is completely different than in a sport that not change the calendar.  Depends if you are winning or if you are losing, no?  The calendar is not about how many tournaments you play.  It’s about how many matches you play.
From beginning I am playing here, I am playing in Australia, and then I have in my calendar Buenos Aires and Rio that I had great experience playing last year in clay in February, so I want to be back there.  And then my idea is play Indian Wells and Miami, but you never know.

Q.  You’ll see how you feel?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Exactly.  That’s my idea.  But you never know what’s going on after Australia.  You never know what’s going on after Indian Wells.  Depends.

Q.  Can you talk a little about the coaching arrangement, new coaching arrangements in tennis?  Novak with Becker and of course Lendl and Murray is old, but Edberg now with Federer.  Can you talk a little about that?  You’re not having the former players coaching.  Even Chang with Nishikori. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  At the end, my opinion, tennis is a simple sport.  I said a few days ago in an Abu Dhabi you don’t need to study a lot to teach tennis, my opinion.
But talking about the tour, is true it’s much better if you have big stars, past stars involved in our sport like Lendl, like Becker, like Edberg, that they will be around the tour much more often today because of the new status that they have.  So that will be great news for our tour, for our sport.
So happy to hear this news, because in the end, what makes the sports big is the combination of history and new events.  I think it’s great to combine events with a lot of history, so at the same time it’s great to combine the past champions and they have a lot of influence on the tour today with the new status.  I think it’s great for us.

Q.  Kind of on the same theme, but can you talk about ‑‑you have always had a consistent relationship obviously with Uncle Toni, and that your coaching hasn’t changed.  How important is that, do you think, to your success?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Today I am working with Toni, with Francis, and for me, it worked well.  Everybody has his feelings.  Not for everybody work the same things.  I am a person that 95, 99% of the times feel that if something is going wrong is because of me, not because of the others.
When something is going well is because I am doing the right things, too, with the help of the rest.  But if never worked well for me what I have, maybe you can think on change.  But if worked well for you of any time in the past is because the team is the right team.  If now is not working well is because you are not doing the right things or you are not that good.
But my idea of life and teamwork is, you know, have continuation on all the work for so many years, and what says that is I never fire no one people in my team since I started my career.  That’s the real thing.  No one in my career.  That’s the thing.
I changed physio.  Today Rafael is with me, but the other one that I had before he left because he has kids and he prefers to be at home, not because I fired nobody, no?
That’s the real thing, no?  I feel comfortable like this.  If I don’t change it until the age of 27 1/2, I probably don’t gonna change.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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