Interview with Rafael Nadal: “I like challenges, but I am not stupid”

Photo: Kevin Ware @SFTennisFreak
Photo: Kevin Ware @SFTennisFreak

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Did you ever feel like you were able to sink your teeth into the match, get into the match, or Novak just seemed to like keep you at a distance most of the day?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, just first few games I was there.  I had the break point, and I played a few games and a few points with right way, with right intensity.
But for the rest, easy to analyze.  The opponent was better than me.  That’s it.
No, some matches, are, you know, more difficult to say.  This one was not that difficult in general.  He was better than me in everything.
So just congratulate him.  That’s it.  I gonna keep working hard to try to be at very high level for next time.

Q.  Is your health good today?  Were you fine, 100%, physically fine today?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yes, I am fine.  Thank you.

Q.  He was able to open up your backhand side on quite a few points there.  Did you feel it was overplayed too much to your forehand?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I feel that I didn’t move as well as I do normally.  You know, I feel that he was having too much success with every shot, you know.  I mean, he was able to find the right spot, the right position that was able to be in negative positions too early in the point.
Today I felt that he played great, but I feel that he doesn’t need to hit a great shot to be an advantage on the point.
So playing against him is the worst thing that can happen for me, because in general, talking about the first two shots, he has a better return than my one, he has a better serve than my one in this surface, especially.
And the things that I can be same level than him or better than him is when the point, when the rally is going and when the point is becoming intense, and I was able to hit maybe with a little bit high intensity sometime as I did last year in the US Open or in Canada.
Was not that day, you know.  On the rally points I feel I was in tough conditions, in negative conditions, and this is impossible to play against him when you have that feeling.

Q.  What kind of mood do you leave here?  Do you feel like you played well this week except for today?  Is it encouraging or are you a little disappointed?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Having a great start of the season for me, always the final of Australian Open change a little bit everything.  But for the rest, knowing that after Australia I had my problem in the back for a while, and I played Rio with not my 100% conditions, and I arrived Indian Wells so‑so because I didn’t serve for a long time before Indian Wells, so in general I arrived ‑‑I did a good start of the season, no?  Winning two tournaments, playing Grand Slam final, Masters 1000 final.
Is great I am in the top of the race arriving to the clay court season.  That’s positive for me, but at the end now we start the clay court season, and I need to be my 100% to make a little bit the difference there, no, to try to be aggressive, to try to move myself very well on clay, and to try to find the best feeling possible as soon as possible.

Q.  Is the back still a problem at all?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  I am fine.  Thank you very much.

Q.  You have never won the Sony Open where you have a lot of fans.  Do you feel you have a mental pressure to win these tournaments?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No.

Q.  A mental block to actually win it?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t think so, no, no.  After a lot of years playing on the tour, you know, I say the other day is true that Miami is a great city, is true that I feel the love of the people.  Especially the Latin crowd always was very important for me, and just thanks to them for everything.
But Miami is the same level as Indian Wells, same level as Cincinnati, Toronto, Monte‑Carlo, Rome, Madrid.  The quality of the tournament is Masters 1000 that I won 26, so I cannot have a block on that, mental block on that (smiling).
Maybe you tell me another kind of thing maybe, but mental block on something you won 26 times is not the thing that I have to worry about Miami.  Need to find another excuses.  (Laughter).

Q.  When you look at your overall record here, does the achievement of making the final four times overshadow any frustration about losing four finals?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I did the final every three years since I start my career, 2005, 2008, 2011, and ’14.  Is good news that I am having a very long career (smiling).
But is maybe, if I am able to play the finals before, then in three years I will have more chances because seems like every three years not the right spot to win the tournament if I am in the final, no.
No, no frustration.  That’s tennis.  That’s the sport.  Sometimes, you know, just accept the challenge that means play in the best tournaments of the world, play against the best players of the world.  Today Novak played at very high level in my opinion and was better than me.
I tried everything.  I tried my best.  Was not enough.  The opponent was just better than me, and when the opponent is better, he’s better.  That’s the sport.
I need to work hard, to try to be in better shape for clay.  By the way, is a positive week for me after everything.  As I said the other day, losing early in Indian Wells and be able to play the final here, I had a lot of points for me, a few good matches, confidence again to start the very important part of the season for me.
So I come back to Majorka after this tournament with the feeling that I was here before the tournament and I am here after the tournament (indicating higher level with hands).  So that’s a positive thing.

Q.  You like challenges, you said many times.  Are you glad Novak exists?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No (laughter).  I like challenges, but I am not stupid.  (Smiling and shrugging).

Q.  Are you eager to get home?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I am…

Q.  Eager? 
RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I have been for a long time away.  I have been in Australia for, well, between Abu Dhabi, Doha, and, yeah, Australia for one month and something, and now almost two months away.
Not yet.  I am not yet able to come back to Majorca, remain a few more days, and I gonna be back on Thursday.  I have to work a few things in Spain before.

Q.  What do you most miss from home?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Family, especially all the friends, cousins, more cousins that I have.  You know, I am not able to see them very, very often, and I have a lot now, and they are very funny at that age that they are between seven, eight, 14 years old, 13 years old.  Well, I have few ones, two more at 16.  But between that age they are very funny.
And all the time that you miss in that moments with them, you know, they are growing.  So I miss them a lot, and for sure, dad, mom, sister.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

20 comments

  1. As usual, Rafa is honest and makes no excuses. He never downgrades his opponents. He tells it like it is. He is a great sportsman as well as a great tennis player and what’s most important a great person and role model for youth. All that cannot be said of a lot of people in sports or in the entertainment field. He is a class act at all times. Thank you uncle Toni and the rest of the Nadal family!

  2. whenever I read his interviews especially about Nole, I’ve got the feeling that he really believes that that guy is better than him and that makes me sad. I hope he stops saying that because it is not true. This is why he’s having a hard time whenever nole is at the other side.

    • But Lorelei, he used to say the same thing when talking about Federer, even though he’s always had a great record against Roger. It’s just Rafa’s respect for Nole’s game as well as the modest nature he has all the time. Remember, he still gas a winning record versus Novak. And he had MUCH BIGGER problems with Nole starting in 2011 when he lost 7 times in a row (ALL in big finals — 3 slams and 4 master 1000 events). But he came back after that and learned to beat him again. I have faith he’ll do the same again. 🙂

  3. There’s not much point being a good looser. A winner is a winner. A looser is a looser. Rafa is not playing as good as he used to be. I have watched him played since 2006. His shots in those days were unbelieverably laser accurate. These days,especially against Djokovic,is extremely poor most of the time. The ball always landed either in the middle T or right infront of Djokovic where he can dictate the killer shot. I hope his team analyse and watch the game afterward to identify his strengths and weknesses. Otherwise he will continue to struggle to beat Djokovic (just like Federer)

  4. God made you the number 1 tennis player in the WORLD!…i admire you so much because you remain goodhearted and humble!!!!vamos, guapo macho rafa!!mwah::-* you’re awesome upto the highest level!;-)

  5. rafa and uncle tony have to find a way to beat djokovic, just like he found a way to beat rafa. nole raised the bar and now seems unbeatable, sometimes even on clay. is got to be a way where rafa can counteract novak’s serve, and get back to those killer, very early returns, and the way he makes rafa run from side to side. djokovic found a way, now is rafa’s time to do the same. the ‘he was better than me today’ don’t make the cut anymore.

  6. Wonderful – sweet and humble as always. My opinion is still that I don’t think that Rafa played his best and Novak did – or very close to his best. I also feel that Rafa has a kind of a mental block when he plays Djokovic, which makes him more nervous, making him ‘tight’, legs heavy and without the usual flow and fluency. I want Rafa to win as much as any other Rafa fan, and I don’t want to be negative, but this year to win the French Open again could be very difficult. Sincerly hope I’m wrong.

    • You are guessing my thoughts. Yes, Novak wants that throphy so bad that it gives me creeps… The good thing is that Rafa feels really at “home” in there 🙂 let’s count on that he will be super confident in there.

  7. always nice to listen to your interviews.talks correct.you are true champion.nice to know humble people like you.stay positive .you are winner for us.

  8. A humble guy im winning nd a much humble guy on defeat !What a champ !Worthy of emulation nd great ambassador for the not only tennis bt for Sport.Vamooosss Dr Rafa !

  9. This is what a champion is with so humbling nature. Those criticized him were simply jealous especially with so many fans that love him to bit….

  10. Rafa you are so humble. Stay that way.Can’t wait for your next game. God Bless you
    Kathy Kim Medford, Oregon USA

  11. No one else loses and wins with such grace, beauty and sweetness! Don’t you just want to give him a hug????

    • Yessssss!!!!! wonderful all the things he said!!! I would have liked at the end that he would have named his girlfriend as one of the members of the family he misses. He wants to protect her so much!!

    • Yes Debby, I do! How can anyone not love Rafa? The only other player I ever loved this much is Monica Seles. Both are great champions, humble in victory and defeat, and sweet beyond words.

    • Roselene,

      There are sick people all around the world. The more successful and loved a celebrity is, the more those sick people need to criticize. They are very unhappy people.

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