R. NADAL/R. Stepanek 2‑6, 6‑4, 7‑5
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You went to that beautiful statue in Rio, Christ the Redeemer, a little bit of a miracle tonight maybe?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry?
Q. You went to that statue in Rio, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio a few weeks ago. A little bit of a miracle on court tonight for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: The same like semifinals? I didn’t understand very well. (Through translation.)
No, not that much. Was in tricky situation in the Love‑40, but I had the break the beginning of the third, too, so I had my advantage there at the beginning of the third that I lost in the next game.
And it’s true that with Love‑40 was, yeah, very close to lose, to be out, but I think I did two good serves and then I played a great point.
Tough one. Anything can happen, but in the end I played well. After that, I think I played better.
Yeah, happy to be through, because the start of the match, even if I felt at the beginning I didn’t play that bad, was very quick 4‑1, and I felt I was not playing that bad, no?
But, yeah, he is not the right player to play against in the first round, no? He’s not the right player, because what you want to find in the first round is rhythm, and against him, you know, every point is different. He goes quick to the net. They don’t give you that few games to find your rhythm, to find a way that you want to play.
Q. Was there something different about him tonight that made him especially difficult to play?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, at the end I give him a little bit of advantage because with my serve I was not doing nothing. So when that happens, the opponent is able to play more aggressive, play more confident, and in the end eight double faults I give him opportunity to win a lot of free points.
You know, a little bit scared for the back. I am not feeling yet 100% confident with my serve. Even if my back is better than Rio ‑‑ in Rio I was feeling the back not very well.
I am feeling the back better, but probably that match gonna help me to understand that I really can start to serve normal again, because I was serving with limitations, with, you know, no confidence, because I was scared to feel again the back, no?
I think I can try to serve again at 100%, because I am feeling better. That match show me that I can try.
Q. Did the back feel better as the match went on, or did you just feel more comfortable with the back as the match went on and with your serve?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, after Rio, I did treatment there in Rio just after the final and I didn’t serve for 10 days. So I was starting to serve few days ago just ‑‑ that’s normal. That can happen, no?
I was serving not bad on the practices, but changing a little bit the movement to protect a little bit the back.
When you are doing something that you are not getting used to do it on the pressure moments, is normal that that will not work.
Q. In Rio, the back looked like a problem against Andujar in semifinal, but in the final against Dolgopolov didn’t seem so bad.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, you can see the percentage of speed of the serve was not that good. Is true that I tried to serve a little bit with more speed in the final because Dolgopolov is a player that on clay he goes very good for the shots, for the winners. And there, Rio, the ball, the court was so quick, so it was not easy to control.
So I tried to serve a little bit better. But even like this I was feeling the back much worse than here. I’m happy for that. That’s most important thing.
Q. You have Dolgopolov again.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, is always a very tough player to play. You know, he’s a player brings me to the limit, because ‑‑ not the same like Stepanek, but in a way, some ways, a little bit similar because both players are playing not two points the same way.
They are playing very aggressive. They can play four winners and then a few mistakes, so that’s very difficult to play against these kind of players. Will be a tough match for me. I need to be ready better than today. I’m going to try.
Q. Can you describe a little bit more about your back? Does it still feel a little tender? Is it 90% healed?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t know about the percent of these kind of things, no?
But I am feeling better. I have better feeling than what I had in Rio, and that’s the most important thing. I have day off tomorrow. I can practice a little bit the serve. I can try to serve again the normal way. I was serving very well before what happened in the back.
Just try to find the game, the rhythm with my serve, because to play from the baseline is not bothering me nothing.
Q. Can you still play golf?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, but seriously I am not feeling the back bad now, and the only movement that I feel the back was on the serve. So only in that movement (Demonstrating his serve motion.) I don’t have no one problem doing any other movement.
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