After overcoming Peter Gojowczyk in Beijing, Rafael Nadal shares his thoughts on coming through a challenging encounter.
Q. There were 22 deuce points in the match. Why do you think it was so tough for you and your opponent to win on deuce points?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I made a few mistakes on breakpoints, important mistakes. He has a good serve, so he’s able to win free points. It is normal after a period of time without competing, only having one match before, normal that you feel a little bit the nervous, the pressure in that moment, because you need matches to be in rhythm, to be confident in what you do in these moments.
That’s what happened, no? I lost a lot of opportunities to have advantage, then the last game was tough.
Q. You’ve been through two matches already here. What, in your opinion, is working well and what’s not working so well after your three‑month break?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, in general I need to improve. It’s obvious. My serve worked well today. But in general I need more rhythm on the legs, more rhythm on the shots, more good directions.
I am playing okay, trying to not miss a lot, trying to play with not too many risks. That’s what I did today. It’s the only way to have matches, only way to have rhythm. That give me already the opportunity to win two matches.
Tomorrow I going to have another match, so I going to play three matches here. That’s important for me. Always in this part of the season, very tough draws.
When you have an injury, for example, at the end of the season, for example, if I am able to play the full season, I have the injury, let’s say, today, and I don’t play until the first tournament of the year, January, is a little bit different. Everybody starts from zero again.
The feeling is completely different if you have the injury in the middle of the season. The rest of the players are still in rhythm. You start again. Difficult part of the season for me because the courts are difficult. The ball here is ‑ I say it every time ‑ but the ball is so bad here. I know they have the contract with ATP for long time, but they have to make something, talking with the players. Lot of players are concerned about that, that the ball is not good. Is difficult to play my best tennis at the beginning, no?
But these few matches helps me. I’m able to practice every day with the good players. We’ll see what’s going on. Remain five tournaments for me, this one and four more. I going to try to finish the season as good as I can.
Q. In the previous match you said you hoped that your doubles match will help you a little bit. Do you think it contributed to your singles victory?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. I competed after a long time. At the end is a different story than singles. But gives you the opportunity to take the rhythm of the competition, to return, to serve under pressure, and gives you a little bit of extra confidence.
Q. What exactly is wrong with the ball? Too fast? Too slow? Too heavy?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know what’s good (smiling).
Seriously, no, I think the bounces are not the same all the time. If you throw the ball on the floor, the bounces goes everywhere. Is not a question of winning or losing. I won in Rio with this ball. I won tournaments with this ball.
It’s just that we’re competing at the top level of our sport, tennis, and the ball is an important thing. There is a lot of good balls around the world. The brand of this ball is a strong brand. So if they have a contract with the ATP, they need to find a solution, change the ball, find another solution, because this ball is not working well.
I am not talking for me only. That’s the feeling of the players out there on the locker room. Lot of players comes to me and tell me that.
But is not question of this tournament. I say it in the past. Is more than a year that we are playing with this ball, and the ball is bad.
Is not ATP Tour world‑class ball.
Q. Just on the different balls. There are different balls obviously used at different tournaments. There have been a few players with wrist injuries. Does that play a part in that?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me? Was not my case. But changing balls every tournament create problems because the feeling of the ball…
I understand for people who really are not players, probably persons who will read that, sounds strange. But the ball is a big difference. Is a big difference between one ball and another ball.
This week we are playing with one ball. Next week we are playing with a different ball. At the same time is a different ball and you need to adapt to the new ball in just two days.
That’s dangerous for the shoulder, dangerous for the elbow. At the end that’s the thing we are talking for a long time on the tour, since I arrived here, and probably before. Seems very difficult to fix that almost ‑ as everything.
Q. This week, does that make you feel more nervous when you play?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no more nervous. I said I don’t have a lot of pressure. I had a good year. I was a little bit unlucky what happened in important part of the season, a season that in the past few years I played well. Played finals of the US Open, winning few ones. Playing some good tournaments in Canada and Cincinnati.
So was an important mistake. I lost an opportunity to compete in three very important tournaments. That’s the negative part. The other negative part is I know coming back in the part of the season that I am coming back is completely different than if I am coming back on clay, little bit easier tournament, that I’m able to be in rhythm a little bit faster, a little bit easier. That’s the negative thing.
Positive thing is another year I’m going to finish in a high position of the ranking, winning a Grand Slam again, and remain a few tournaments to try to enjoy the tour, the coming back. For me this last part of the season obviously is important. Every tournament is important for me. At the same time I want to finish with a better feeling possible to start the new season with good tennis, you know.
But for me now I am in quarterfinals here. As I say before, tomorrow another tough match. I going to try my best to keep winning. Every match is important for me.
Q. Just now you were named as the most dynamic player for 2014. Winning this award, what is your feeling?
RAFAEL NADAL: All the awards have importance, no? Fans say that, so thank you to the fans. I always try my best put all my energy on every practice, every match. Is a real thing. So thank you for that.
Q. Two days ago you attended Li Na’s retirement ceremony. We know that you participated in a lot of players’ retirement ceremonies. This occasion, you gave the flowers to Li Na. What is your feeling on that day?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, for me was a real honor to say good‑bye to Li Na. Is a very important player for the world of tennis. Asia and China is a very important market for the world of tennis. She’s the first one on winning I think Roland Garros, Australia, Australian Open. Is amazing what she did.
It was an emotional good‑bye. But she did a lot for our sport. I think she did a lot for Chinese tennis. She deserve to be happy in the rest of his [sic] new things she going to do.
At the same time is a girl that always was nice with everybody. So for me was a pleasure to be there saying good‑bye to her on court.
Q. Yesterday you met the football coach of Guo An. He gave you the suit of Guo An. Will you be there to watch the football game? Did you know this Beijing football team? Did you meet this coach before?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I mean, I was yesterday having dinner with him. There is the physical performance coach of the team that is from Mallorca, a very close village to my village.
The team of coaches have been in Mallorca for a few years. So, yes, I met them in the past. They are here now. They are happy being here. Is a new experience, good experience, for them. So I was happy to talk about how is the experience for them here.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Video: ATP World Tour
Vamos Rafa! Good luck for tomorrow.
I love Rafa’s honesty. He never takes anything for granted and always acknowledges that his
opponents also have skills and weapons which causes him to make adjustments and improvements in his game. I watched this match, of course! Glad Rafa closed it out in 2 straight sets. Gojo was a dangerous opponent. Those slice-back shots really do work when you need them. Loved his patience when closing out the match which is always so challenging! Look forward to his next match! Vamos RAFA!!!
Rafa’s straightforward answers are always to be expected, and we were again rewarded by the results of this interview. It’s a harbinger of good things to come! VAMOS RAFA!!!!