Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his second round match at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open.
Q. Stan, after his loss, said the conditions were really tough here because the ball is flying. It seems you are not disturbed at all by those conditions. Can you explain how it’s playing out there?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the conditions are good to play. No wind, nothing. Is the ball. The ball is still not very well, no? Still problem with the same ball. We need to change that, because highest level of tennis deserve highest quality of ball. This ball is not the highest quality.
So what Stan said probably was that, talking about that.
But in general, the conditions and the tournament is, without a doubt, one of the best of the year. It’s unbelievable, everything about what’s happening here the last couple of years, the way that the tournament improves, how big is, all the facilities for the crowd, for the players.
A lot of stadiums are difficult to imagine a tournament away from Grand Slams improving that much, so just can say thanks to all the organization, everybody who makes possible that, to create an event like this. Especially to Larry Ellison. It’s great to have him on our tour supporting our sport.
It’s amazing all the things that’s happening here. I think the crowd is one of the highest crowds on the world.
Q. Was he a pretty good first opponent for you in terms of the pace he gave you, the kind of stuff he threw at you? Is this a good way to start with this kind of player?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, he’s an aggressive player. I think I played well. I think I played solid match to be the first match. I’m very happy the way I played. I played with not many mistakes, winning a good percentage of points with my serve.
One very important thing for me are the movements, and I think I moved myself a little bit quicker tonight than what I was doing one month ago.
So in general, I was able to defend some points well, to have some good passing shots, have some winners, some good shots down the line with my forehand. That’s always give me a lot of confidence. So I have to be happy with the way I played tonight.
Q. You are also playing doubles here. I was wondering what adjustments you have to make going from singles to doubles and what skills it requires, which maybe you don’t use as much in singles.
RAFAEL NADAL: I would love to play for doubles. Doubles are great for practice for singles players. Playing doubles you practice the serve. You can return a little bit more aggressive. You practice the volley. You practice the movements on the volley. You know, how to go, how to volley tough shots, the speed on the legs, on that movements.
Is great practice, the doubles, for singles player. The thing is, in my case, with all the things that happened to me, it’s difficult to play all the doubles that I would love to do, you know.
But I am happy I try to play always doubles. When I am playing doubles I try to do it with good friends. Here with Pablo, we are enjoying. We have fun. We go on court and we try our best, but can win, can lose. It’s a little bit different than singles. We play more relaxed and works a lot. Helps.
Q. Talking about doubles, your next match you are playing Marc, and you guys won here twice together. Can you talk a little bit about that doubles match since you are playing someone you have been very successful with here at this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, he doesn’t want to play with me anymore, so… (Laughter.)
RAFAEL NADAL: I need to play with ‑‑I need to play against him now. (Smiling.)
Well, I want all the best for Marc. He’s one of my closest friends, probably my closest friend on tour. It’s not a comfortable situation the match of tomorrow, but at the end we are professionals. We are going to try our best both of us.
We are in the same room here, so we sleep in different beds but together. (Laughter.) And that’s it. That’s the sport. For the first time in our career we gonna play against each other, and hope ‑‑ we are going to try our best and hope it will be a good match.
Q. You and Borg have more French Opens in the Open era by far. We know how Federer has done against you. How do you think Federer would have done against someone like Borg, and how do you think he will be viewed as a clay‑court player when he’s done?
RAFAEL NADAL: We cannot compare eras now. Bjorn Borg has been an unbelievable dominant player for a long time. What he did was amazing, on clay, on grass, everywhere. So he’s a great champion.
Roger Federer is an amazing champion, too. He’s a fantastic player, clay‑court player. You know, a player who was able to play 2006, 2007, 2008, finals, then winning 2009, and then playing the final again 2011.
You know, I don’t see a lot of players that have been in all that final rounds of French Open in a row, so that says that Roger is one of the best clay‑court players of the history probably.
Q. There is some younger players coming up on tour now. You have played some of them.
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry?
Q. There are younger players coming up on tour now. You have played some of them. I was wondering, when you look at them play, do you recall yourself at that age, and how do you compare yourself now with when you were that age?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t see myself there. (Smiling.)
Different characters, different ways to understand the sport, so is a new era. The new era is new players are good for sport, are good for fans.
The ball goes quicker now than before. I don’t know if that’s good for the fans or not. I don’t see the highest applause of the year are not an ace or one serve and forehand winner. Normally are big rallies, big points. Seems like that will be difficult with the new generations the way that the ATP manage how to run the sport for the last couple of years.
But is great to have new faces. There is a lot of, now, new faces on the tour that for a while haven’t been here, and that’s a good news for our sport, for sure. Very good news.
Q. We know you enjoy your golf when you’re here in the desert. Have you been able to play some golf here? If doubles helps your tennis, does golf help your tennis in any way?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the doubles not helps my golf, because playing doubles, playing doubles I play less golf, you know. Probably tomorrow I will have the chance to play golf and practice. Playing doubles I don’t gonna play golf probably, so that’s it, no?
I am here to play tennis. I enjoy playing golf when I have the chance. I had the chance to play couple of rounds of golf here before the tournament. I arrived one week before.
Is probably one of the best places in the world to play golf, and I really enjoy a lot doing that. I gonna play when I have the chance to play. Obviously my priority is try to practice tennis as much as I can and do all the right things to be ready for the tournament.
But is true that the golf relax me, you know. For me, you know, is very easy here to play golf. And, you know, in a lot of tournaments of the year, you know, the days off you practice, you come back to the room, you do all the recover, and then you are there reading the newspapers, reading things, findings things on Internet, and at the end you find again and again and again all the same things.
So playing golf that is here is a big help, because you finish the practice, you’re going to play some holes, and that distracts your mind and you have fun. So I enjoy a lot.
Q. Donald Young. Your next opponent. Another lefty, American.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I think he improved a lot the last couple of years. He’s playing very well. Winning a lot of matches. Could be a very tough opponent for me.
After tomorrow I hope to be ready for it.
Stay focused and you can do it one at a time, go go go my IDOL!!!
As ever Rafael has a very balanced approach to life in general. He is reflective about the sport and not afraid to be constructively critical of the ATP.He has a lovely sense of fun.. Waves of positive wishes to him as he plays Donald Young. Good win for him and Pablo in doubles.
All the best for tomorrow. Vamos Rafa!