Sony Open Tennis (Miami), QF: Interview with Rafael Nadal (March 27, 2014)

Photo via Deporte Total USA
Photo via Deporte Total USA

R. NADAL def. M. Raonic 4‑6, 6‑2, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  It must feel good getting through that kind of guy who gives you trouble with big serves. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yes.  Thank you very much.  It’s a very important victory for me.  Very hard to play against these kind of players, and especially when the match didn’t start the way that you would like, because if I convert one of the opportunities that I had in that first set on the return, the match change completely, no?  Because you are able to have the break, you play with more calm, play more aggressive.
But when you start losing opportunities, you feel that you gonna be in trouble, because one game he gonna play aggressive and you will be in his hands, and the next thing is that game arrived, and I had two double faults, important mistakes in that 5‑4.
Then I was lucky at the beginning of the second set I started with a break and was very important for me.  I felt that I finished the match playing better.
I think I started the match playing okay, playing well but not playing well the break points, and then at the 2‑3 for him I think I started to play much better.

Q.  Milos said you had a strategic and mental disposition better than he did.  Did you feel that way?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Very difficult to analyze that when the match decides on a few balls.
So today I won.  He could won, too.  So that’s my feeling, you know.  Then when you are playing these kind of matches against a player like Milos, that he’s able to serve this way, anything can happen when you are in the third set.
So happened that the match was for me and very happy for that.  For me to be in semifinals after early losing Indian Wells is very important for the confidence, very important because there is good points for me, too.
You know, from Indian Wells, Miami, until end of Roland Garros is very important part of the season for me.
This result is important, because the difference between quarterfinals and semifinals is a lot, and tomorrow I have another day to try to keep playing better.

Q.  Milos, his serve, how tough is his serve to return?  Is it the toughest on tour? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I cannot say the toughest, because he’s one of the toughest, sure.  Isner is there, Karlovic is there.
When you’re playing these kind of matches, you play under pressure.  The good thing that Milos did today is he played better from the baseline than what he did, for example, two days ago.  I saw his match on TV, and he was having much more mistakes than what he did today.
When you feel that the opponent has the serve that he has and he’s able to play well from the baseline, playing some good rallies and going for the point with his forehand, so then you are in big trouble.

Q.  Do you enjoy that challenge playing against players with a big serve like that?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Not much (smiling).

Q.  I was wondering, do you think getting a little more time in Miami to prepare for the conditions here has helped you this week?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I didn’t have a lot of time in Miami.  I had less than almost everybody, because I stayed in Indian Wells until Sunday, I went to Portland on Monday.  I arrived here on Tuesday.  So not more than nobody.
That didn’t help me.  Would be much better if I played well at Indian Wells, had good result, and I arrive here with better confidence.
But that’s past.  Good thing is I am in semifinals now.  I played four good matches, four good wins against not one easy opponent, and few matches playing very well.
Tomorrow I have very tough match against Berdych.  He started the season very well, having very good results, and will be very tough opponent to beat.

Q.  You have beaten Tomas I think 16 times in a row.  Why does your game work so well against him?  What do you like against his game that fits into yours?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, I feel that I played very good against him a lot of times the last couple of years.  I never lost against Wawrinka before that final in Australia and I lost that final.  So that’s just statistics.
Tomorrow is a match against one of the players that he is in better shape on tour today and one of the best players of the world.  Only way to win is play my best tennis, and that’s why I was able to beat him in the past, because I was playing very well against him.

Q.  When a guy is playing the way he was early on and you missed a few chances, do you find yourself struggling with yourself to be patient, telling yourself, Well, the guy’s gonna have to give me an opening sooner or later?  Is that a difficult thing to manage mentally?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Can you repeat?

Q.  Do you find yourself struggling with yourself to be patient and calm down, telling yourself that you probably will get chances?  Do you have this discussion with yourself as it’s going on?
RAFAEL NADAL:  In these kind of matches?

Q.  Yeah. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, normally I manage well.  I am a very focused player normally, and I’m able to be focused and to play every point with the right concentration, knowing that every point has value.
At the end, the important thing is be solid with my serve in these kind of matches.  Normally I will have some chances on the return, as I had today in the first set, but I didn’t convert it.
So important thing is be solid with my serve, and if I am, I just need to be patient and wait for my chance.  I know that and play with the right decision, right opportunity.
Good thing of today, I lost once my serve and then not one more.  And is true that my serve didn’t work very well tonight.  At the end of the first set I start to serve much better, but is true that the conditions from the practice I played this afternoon I practiced great, probably one of the best days, than the conditions that I found out tonight on court was completely different, was much colder, a lot of wind.  During the day it was not windy, so it was a lot of wind tonight.
The feeling on the ball was much slower.  So I felt that the ball stays on my strings much more time that what used to do this afternoon on my practice.
So is sometimes interesting how match can change the feeling with a few hours.  Here especially.

Q.  Just wondering how you decided to take your shirt off on court after every match, because no other players do that. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  What?  Sorry?

Q.  To take your shirt off after every match on the court, because no other players do that. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t want to get cold (smiling).  That’s the reason.
No, maybe the other players are not sweating as much as I do, so I cannot stay during all the interviews, everything, having sign autograph for the fans for ten minutes or that with the same T shirt.  I going to get cold.  I try to dry myself and put a jacket on.  Yeah.

Q.  We have watched so many of your matches over the years.  Kind of an obvious question:  Why do you stand back so far?  Is it vision, technique on your shots?

Q.  Just in general. 
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, not always.  Depends on the feeling, depends on the opponent.  Depends on my feeling of that day.
You know, I feel like here the ball is able to bounce.  But is true that during evening conditions, night conditions today, with that cold, the ball bounces much less and was more difficult with that wind to play the ball longer and higher.
I thought that playing from long space behind the baseline I would have the chance to put more balls inside.  I know in theory when the ball, you know, if I am able to return the serve and put the ball inside, then the advantage is for me most of the times.

Q.  Are you ever concerned when you do that that you’re going to give away that tight angle too much?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Is a risk, but in the end normally I have a good powerful backhand from the back.  I am able to hit a good backhand from there.
But is true that it’s not the ideal thing for me, no?  I would love to play a little bit more inside, and if you see the few previous matches against players that didn’t serve that well, I was not that far.  I was closer to the baseline.
If I am able to return closer to the baseline, is much better, because at the end, you are in advantage because you’re returning from that far is true that if you are not hitting very return, the opponent has a lot of time to watch the ball, come, and try to go for the winner.
But today was a special opponent with an unbelievable serve and with the game from the baseline that normally I have to be better than him, so I tried to use that strategy.
Maybe wrong for a while sometimes.  Because on the break points I feel I was not able to ‑‑I played some break points with second serve that I was not able to push him back.  That’s was my goal, and most of the time, even with the second serve, he was able to hit the first forehand with a good position, and that cannot happen.
But is true it was windy and cold and was not easy to find the control.  And to play against these players when the conditions are like this is very tough, because you need to play with more precision, because then the good thing, when you play against these players, is if you are able to move them, they are so big, the movements are not the best thing, and I am very good on that.
So that’s my advantage.  Today was difficult to find that feeling with that wind.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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