May 8, 2014
R. NADAL/J. Nieminen
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish, please.
Q. For the quarterfinals match, Tomas Berdych. It’s been a long time since the last time he beat you. In Rome, 2013, 2‑0 for you. What are you expecting from him tomorrow? It’s going to be in the morning, so we’ll see.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, in the morning, I think it’s going to be at 3:00. On the your time, right?
Well, it’s always the same thing: I think that Berdych today played an important match. He beat Dimitrov when he came from playing really well. Dimitrov is also doing very well, and that’s a lot of merit for Berdych.
I saw the first set. I saw a little bit of the second, one but not a lot because I was getting ready. He’s a very dangerous player on every single surface. Here even more with the altitude. The ball flies very fast and the serve is very difficult to break.
My goal is to try to be aggressive. I know that to play against him I don’t have to leave many spaces on the court. If he strikes the ball in comfortable positions I’m nearly dead, because he has a really high ball speed.
And I have to try to see what he does a little bit better. Maybe his movement is not as good. You know, perhaps when I’m good and a little bit stronger than him on that side moving from side to side on the court.
But all the rest, it’s really difficult to stop him if you’re not on your best level. Today I did a good match. During perhaps an hour I played at a really high level. Also, it’s true that after that I didn’t play such a high level. I had something in my head.
Q. What do you think, you will lift the trophy on Sunday or Real Madrid wins the 1oth Champions League on the 24th?
RAFAEL NADAL: Real Madrid just needs to win a match, and over here I have to win three matches. It’s easier that Real Madrid wins the Champions League.
They have days to go, and I have only hours in front of me before my next match. And that’s are we have. I have to be ready. It’s an important match for me. I have been two weeks losing in the quarterfinals, so let’s see what happens.
Hopefully I can make it to the semifinals. I hope that I have the energy and the intensity required to be able to play against Tomas since the beginning in a proper way.
I hope that the fact that I’m playing at home it’s going to be an extra help.
Q. I want to talk a little bit about your answer. Last thing you said before about the good timing that you had to play on the court. Perhaps you played your best match on clay. Today you said you were playing well, but you said at the end of the match you had something on your mind. Was that a good thing or not?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, whatever you have on your mind, it’s not a good thing. Completely opposite. It’s true that during the first hour I played better than yesterday, more dynamically and with more intensity. I knew what I was doing with each ball with no surprises.
I was defending properly and knowing what was happening in every single moment. I could defend properly. Perhaps that’s something I wasn’t able to do in the last weeks. Perhaps today with more energy and I was more dynamic than before.
So I think I did that pretty well today. After that, well, when I was attacking I was doing it properly with no anticipation. I wasn’t going for the winner straightaway, but always having the initiative of the point.
When I was saying with no surprises, well, I was saying that if the ball came long, then the ball came long. If I wanted to do a short ball, I did a short ball. Things I didn’t do last week.
For example, last weeks if I wanted to play a long ball I maybe put it in the net. So those are things that get you out of the court.
Perhaps today things were more controlled than other days. That builds confidence for you whenever you’re moving and playing very well. Those margins of error give you confidence without having to go behind the tramlines a lot to win the point.
Q. When you said you had something on your mind, what are you talking about?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, that I committed some errors and didn’t play with the intensity that I was at the beginning. I don’t know how many unforced errors I made after the 2‑0 in the first set or something like that, or 2‑0, 3‑0. I think very few. I think I didn’t commit nearly any unforced errors.
I would like to know how many I committed, but I felt I hardly committed any errors. You know, when you’re for a long time without missing anything, sometimes you cancommit an error that I shouldn’t.
You know, I’ve done it in two consecutive games, one with his serve. I committed perhaps some errors one after the other. Perhaps another one also with my serve I committed some consecutive errors.
So, you know, he cannot go 3‑2 when I have such a good dynamic. I have to go ahead again. When I am 3‑1 I have to be 4‑1, not 3‑2.
After that, another game which I think I should have done the break at 4‑3. That was a complicated moment because we were 3‑3. I think that was the moment to go back in and break again, and I started with a good point and then I think I committed two errors.
So I think what i have to avoid in order to be competitive, in order to play well against the player that I have now.
Q. Accepting that your two opponents have been very hard, do you think tomorrow’s match is really a test to see if you’re playing better?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, instead of a test, it’s just another important match. Perhaps it’s the most difficult of all week without any doubts. I think I’m playing against the 6th in the world? 5th? Where he is?
RAFAEL NADAL: 6th. Well, you know, he’s a player that has been playing really well. He made it to the semifinals in Australia, he won in Rotterdam I think, and he’s a player that has a capacity to play at the maximum level.
I don’t know if it’s an exam, but it is a big test. We have to be ready to face it with the proper attitude. We have to be mentally strong for the moments that we have out there, because there’ll be complicated moments.
It’s never going to be an easy match. It’s going to be very equal, I hope. We just have to be ready to assume that and to keep on playing bravely.
Q. Last time that he beat you was here in Madrid in 2006. Can you remember anything of the feelings that you had back then? Do you remember something of that match?
RAFAEL NADAL: In 2006? Yeah, sure. Of course I do.
It’s not a match that I have good feelings about because it was a lot of years ago. It’s the past. It was one of the few times I had problems inside a court in my life.
It’s the past. All of us learn with the years. Me the first, and nothing. I think that tomorrow’s match has nothing to do with what happened in 2006. It’s a completely different history, different surface.
Unfortunately we’re pretty old now.
Q. The match against Pico was a little bit short. This one was a little bit longer. Do you think you have good rhythm here with the altitude in order to have a victory tomorrow?
RAFAEL NADAL: Tomorrow at 5:00 or 6:00 I’ll let you know. I don’t know what can happen in the future. Only thing I know is that I won two matches, which is always important.
I’ve won them more or less with continuity, which is also positive. Now the complicated part of the match comes. You have to go the step forward and play happily and bravely and I think with determination.
This is what I have to do if I want to have options.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.
Q. Congratulations today. Your analysis of the match today? It was going pretty well in the first set and he pushed you in the second set. Did you always feel in control of the match today?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. When you are 4‑All and breakpoint for the opponent you are not in control always. But it’s true that for one hour probably I was playing the best tennis that I played for the last three weeks.
One of the first days that I felt that I was doing with the ball what I really want to do. So that’s a very positive thing.
And the negative thing is in the match I had an opportunity to close the match with great feelings and I made few mistakes in a row. That makes the match more complicated. I gave the opportunity to Jarkko to play more aggressive and with more determination.
For me it was a mistake to give him that option because I had the match completely under control with 6‑1, 3‑0. Tomorrow is another is history against one of the best players in the world. I need to be at my 100% to have any chance.
I am going to try. I know I have to play better and better every day if I want to have chances.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Very interesting comments by Rafa.
He said that it’s important for him to “not go for winners straightaway” like he did in Barcelona & Monte Carlo, but instead to “KEEP THE INITIATIVE” – i.e. play aggressively and wait for the right opportunity to go for the winning shot. I agree 100% with that strategy.
I saw a stat on Tennis Channel during his match against Berdych which showed Rafa having an average shot depth of 9.1 meters in Madrid compared to 7.8 meters in Monte Carlo.
Part of that added depth is due to the higher altitude(less gravity) in Madrid, and part of it is due to Rafa’s more aggressive strategy this week.
That extra 1.3 meters of depth is the difference between winning and losing for Rafa, especially against highly ranked players, and especially against that guy from Serbia.
Keep it up, Rafa. Stay aggressive. Stay in control of the rallies. Wait for the right opportunity to end the point, then go for it. VAMOS!!!
Great game Rafa, wish you more success.