French Open: An Interview with Rafael Nadal (May 26, 2015)

Q. When it’s cloudy like this and the conditions are probably heavier, does that play in your mindset when you’re stepping on the court and starting the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat the last part? I didn’t understand very well.

Q. When you’re stepping on the court knowing that the conditions would probably be a bit heavier, does that play in your mentality a little bit when you’re stepping on the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, no. Seriously, no.

Q. How did you feel about the way you played today? 

RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I think he played aggressive. I think he played well. He played obviously with some mistakes, but when you want to risk on every single ball, then the mistakes are there, you know. You know, the tennis is moving that way. Younger, aggressive. And the tour in general are moving to hit the ball stronger and quicker, you know, going for the winners all the time. So when he wants to play like this and he put the balls in, just I cannot do nothing. But when the point was playing in normal conditions, I think I play well.

Q. In terms of your game, how you felt out there, could you tell us a little more about how you felt about your own play today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, obviously, you know, is not easy to say, as I said before, against a player who wants to try to hit winners from everywhere. But my feelings have been okay, have been good. You know, when I had the chance to play normal points, you know, I think I changed good directions with my forehand, very good forehand down the line. After the first three games that I started a little bit slow, then I start moving the ball better. I am happy the way that I played, no? Is the first match and I played enough well, and I think my forehand worked well for a lot of moments.

Q. Considering the year has been a little bit up and down for you, do you come in here with a different mindset than you had in the past? You know, obviously you have won here pretty much every time you have played except one.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, obviously, the dynamics are the dynamics, no? When I had some up and downs during the season, is normal that can happen here. I am try to avoid that, and I am here to try to play good tennis and to give me a chance to play well and to compete for everything. I gonna try as I try every year. My mentality and my goal is the same always.

Q. History question for you. They have looked back in the past with Guillermo Vilas, at the rankings for No. 1. There has been a lot of research. The rankings were different in 1975, but that he would have been No. 1 if they had released the rankings at a different time during the year. I guess the ATP has just decided they are not going to make a change in the rankings. What’s your feeling about that? It’s kind of a complicated thing, but do you have any…
RAFAEL NADAL: I seriously prefer to not speak much about things that I don’t know very well. I think the ranking’s still complicated today, but used to be much more complicate years ago, I think. It happened a long time ago, and I think Guillermo Vilas have enough good career to reclaim today that. I don’t know how many years ago happen…

Q. ’75.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know, is 40 years ago. I think everybody can forget that. If he deserve, he deserve. But, you know, I think Guillermo Vilas should have a good life today enjoying the daughter that he has, you know. Probably is not any more that important if he was No. 1 or if he was not No. 1 years ago. He had a great career anyway. One of the greatest.

Q. Can you talk about your next match? Obviously we don’t know if you will play Nico or Dolgopolov. Can you talk about them separately? Obviously they are better players than their rankings are.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, both players are, yeah, very tough opponents to play second round, no? Not players that you want to play in the second round of Roland Garros. Both players are players of high quality. So obviously is not a good round, but it is what there is. I gonna try to play well and try to have a chance to win.

Q. Can you tell me what happened with Bernardes? Is it true the situation he cannot umpire your matches, or do you know anything about it? Because I read it, but I have no exactly the clue what happened.
RAFAEL NADAL: Is easy, no? There is a lot of umpires on the tour. I respect a lot Bernardes. I consider him a great umpire and a good person, but I think when you have some troubles with the same umpire, sometimes it’s easy to stay for a while away, no? I think that’s the real thing. I think is better for both of us if we are not in court at the same time for a while after what happened in Rio de Janeiro. That’s it. No problem with him personally.

Q. But not your request?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, it was my request, and the ATP talking about — well, I asked if it’s possible, but nothing personal against him 100%. I respect him like umpire, I respect him like person, and I consider him a good person more than that. So for me is not — I am not happy with that situation. That’s the first thing. Because I would love to have Bernardes on the court again. Will happen, but, you know, I think for both of us it is better to have a break, you know. We had some problems. For me he hasn’t — he was not enough respectful with me in Rio de Janeiro . That was my feeling when I put my shorts the other way. He wants to put me warnings four times, that’s fine. But if I put my shorts other way and I ask him if I can change my shorts, I can put my shorts the right way, and his answer is, Yes, but you will receive a time warning. For me, that’s not fair, you know, (smiling.) When something like that, something like this did happen on court, that I think is not fair. I think is, you know, shows not respect, because I cannot play a full game with the shorts the other way. So it’s better. It’s better to be away for a while. That’s all. No personal problem with him, no? Seriously, I’m not saying that because I am in front of you. I respect him, I like him, but he was not right. And I believe that is for relationship and everything is better to be away for a bit.

Q. Before I ask the question, the kids are showing you something outside, that the clay has only one king, and that’s not Djoko. Vamos, Rafa.
RAFAEL NADAL: (Thumbs up to the window.)

Q. My question is today at some point, I think it was third set, your opponent hit a ball. First it was called out, and then the chair umpire called it in. 30-40. What did you talk with the chair umpire there? You said it should be a replay of the point.
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s my feeling, but that’s (Snapping fingers) less than a second. Is very difficult to decide what’s going on, so it’s very difficult to say or not say — I cannot say if he was right or if he was not right. I think that was very short period of time, no? I believe that the call can affect me, but I’m not sure of that. And I say to him on the changeover I say I am not sure if he was right. I say, I think it was too close to not repeat the point. But he said that he thought that I hitted the ball before the line say out, so that’s it. I cannot say another thing, because probably he was — he has a better perspective than myself.

Q. It looked like it could have been a replay. But anyway, what do you think about your opponent at 18? He looked pretty much in good condition. Do you think he has a good future on clay?
RAFAEL NADAL: I say before I think that tennis is moving that way, hitting the ball that strong, and is not easy to play center court here in Roland Garros. He’s from France, he played well, and he has the right conditions to be a great player. But always he’s the same. If you, keep improving, you know, you will have chance to be great player. If not will be more difficult. But was the same for me when I had 17 or 16, and the same for everybody, no? He’s enough young to have a lot of time to keep working, to keep working with humble, and knowing that the things are different. Even if he’s here today playing Roland Garros, things are not easy. He has everything: good serve, good forehand, not a bad backhand. Why he cannot play well? I think he has everything to play well. Then he has to do it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. Can you tell us about the match, your feelings during this match, and what you said in English? You said that you have played against an opponent with a lot of weapons. What do you think of his play?
RAFAEL NADAL: I played a good match, a solid one. When I had some opportunities I seized them. The first four games in the first set, I mean, were tough. I made some mistakes, but then afterwards I was able to hit my shots. I had some problems with my serve, but on the whole, it was okay. From time to time the opponent served very well with a lot of power, but I managed to return quite well. He managed to hit shots that put me in a difficult situation at some times, but I was dominant on the whole during the match. I dominated the game. I managed to play some strokes down the line. So I handled the match very well. It’s a correct performance. I’m happy with it. He got lots of balls back, in fact, retrieving lots of them. A very good opponent.

Q. Do you think that your forehand is not as good as in the past? In practice with Toni, you practiced focusing on your forehand.
RAFAEL NADAL: I try to practice more with my forehand. With my forehand I’m not as steady and consistent as in the past. Of course I can still impart some spin, but I’m not smooth enough with my forehand. I’m suffering from a lack of stability with my shots. But I can tell you that that’s the way in tennis. You go through difficult moments. But I’m still a solid player. What is important is to handle the good moments, but also the bad moments. Regarding my forehand, I mean, I didn’t have any trouble. I don’t think that my forehand is bad. It’s still good. But with the forehand, I mean, I need to reach better targets. I’ll try to better deliver my shots at Roland Garros. And if I don’t win the French Open, my career will still go on. Life will continue. So it won’t be the end of the world. But to answer your question, I don’t think that things are not going well. I’m working hard. I’m pulling out all the stops in order to be at the top of my game. And I want to put in a good showing during the major tournaments, not just at the French Open, but elsewhere. But I’m quite confident for future.

Q. Everybody pays due attention to this French Open this year, much more than in the past, because this tournament might be different, I mean, to others. You’re familiar with this tournament, but you had ups and downs. Is it additional pressure or is it like any other tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: This is the French Open, the most important tournament in my career. But this is something that I have said already. You cannot invent or come up with reason and say that it is the most important tournament. I lost in 2009. We know that the French Open is a significant tournament. In 2005 and 2006 I was asked how would I feel in the future. I didn’t know. But now I can have a look at the statistics, and I have noticed that I have won Roland Garros nine times. I hope that I can win the tournament again. So as I told you, my wins here were unforgettable, great moments that I had here.

Q. We are Spanish journalists, so what can you tell us about the ATP, about the Guillermo Vilas story?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I’m not familiar with it. This happened 40 years ago, so as of today I don’t think it’s a pivotal issue. We shouldn’t spend too much time on that. I don’t know how old Guillermo Vilas is, but 40 years later I would say it’s not necessary to talk about it. I wouldn’t be worried, I mean, if I were 50 years of age. Guillermo Vilas is well known in the world. Everyone knows him. Guillermo Vilas is Guillermo Vilas, so that’s enough. But if he wants his position of No. 1 being recognized, so be it.

Q. Any room for improvement for the second week? Second question: Gala Leon, what do you think of her?
RAFAEL NADAL: First of all, what do I need to improve? I need to make sure that I can advance to the second week. I don’t know exactly what I have to do. I know I have to win the next matches, of course, and the next match will be a tough one. So what it matters for me is to play well. I should show some consistency. I will have to be aggressive with my forehand. If my next opponent is aggressive I will have to handle that situation. I said already that I wouldn’t talk about Gala Leon, about Alonso, because it’s stupid to talk about that. If you talk about it too much we will have diverging and different views about this issue. So people tend to focus on that topic. I mean, I don’t want to have this debate about being a match or not, because lots of things can be misinterpreted. The environment was quite bad. People have said that I was macho, so I won’t say anything about that any longer. I don’t want to talk about sexism, because I’m not macho. Women are very important to me. My mom, my sister, my fiancée. There are lots of people in my life, lots of women who play a pivotal role. So I’m not macho. You might believe I’m a macho man, but that’s not the case at all. I don’t want to be embroiled in that story, because this will fuel lots of stories that are not true. So game over, to a certain extent. As players, we need to shoulder our responsibilities. We are in the second division now in the Davis Cup, but I can tell you that some mistakes and errors have been made, and these people responsible for these mistakes and errors should shoulder their responsibilities. I’m not talking about Davis Cup. I’m talking about Spanish tennis. The Spanish Tennis Federation can get some profits thanks to the Davis Cup. So it’s not like the Americans, the French, or the Brits. These federations, they have helped the young players so that young players can have a bright future in the world of tennis. The Royal Spanish Tennis Federation didn’t help a lot young players. And not only young players, we, the experienced players. So we have covered a lot of ground ourselves without the full support of the Spanish Federation. We are not going to talk about the reasons. People will say that the Federation was short of money, but when I was 13 or 14 years of age they offered me to go to El Car, but I thought the place I practiced was okay. I needed my parents at the time. Had to be with my family. That’s why I stayed in Mallorca with Tomas. So Tomas is now working for the Spanish Federation, and he was my partner and we were world champions at the time. So he was my sparring partner and decided to go with the Federation. It’s just an example. I don’t have any resentment, but you are not aware of all things. He was one of my best friends, Tomas. Tomas left, so they paid everything when he left and they didn’t give me anything. So why this difference in terms of treatment? I can’t understand. I was given a poor deal. Then I took part in the Wimbledon juniors tournament and I had to pay for the hotel, for the trip, for almost everything. So I decided to stay with my coach. I had to incur these traveling expenses. And all the players who were coddled by the Federation had their expenses paid. So this process, I mean, didn’t work well. The Federation needs players. Of course, the Davis Cup is a vital source of money for Spanish tennis, and the Spanish Tennis Federation should help support young players. So the Spanish Tennis Federation decided to focus too much on the Davis Cup. What’s happening now? In fact, we are not making the right decisions in order to make money, so I cannot understand their stance. I can’t understand why they undermine the future of Spanish tennis. I think that the Spanish Federation should be grateful to what we have done for Spanish tennis over the years. We have been united all together over the past 15 years. We have won five or six Davis Cups. That’s not too bad. So things turned awry, and they want to look for some confrontation. They are responsible for that. And Mr. and Mrs. Gala Leon, I mean, these are ancillary issues. We shouldn’t talk about Gala Leon anymore. They talk about it because they want me to give my opinion. They just want to deflect our attention from the problems faced by the Spanish Federation, and that’s all. I haven’t said anything about Alonso, about Gala Leon, about Davis Cup. For example, I can get some money because I’m playing as part of the ATP Tour, but it’s not possible to criticize too much the ATP Tour. It’s the same analogy with the Spanish Federation. So the Spanish Federation has no impact on me because I’m part of the tour. The Spanish Federation can make the most of our achievements and we should get better relationships. I’m not talking about Gala Leon or Mr. Alonso. I don’t like the way things were managed or will be managed in the future. So if we are considered as being macho, I mean, that’s not really respectful.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Video: Roland Garros


  1. Fiance !Xisca is his girlfriend for so many years he don’t need to be engaged seems as if they are already engaged many years together! I’m sure the next thing will be a wedding !

  2. Dear Rafa OLA….. : ) I think you are the brightest tennis player we have….by far….. & your common sense replies are always so refreshing & interesting to read…..good for you!!! When all is said & done, over the years you managed to handle the media beautifully!!! VAMOS!!!! : ) I respect your wonderful manners & the way you handle them well….always consistent & mature w your frank replies.
    Congratulations again dear Rafa for your opening win & best wishes for the next!!!! : ) You have all the solid Tennis ingredients in tact & your presence on the court is fantastic….. commending & effective!!!! : ) good luck …..very happy for you…..have a great evening & God bless you !!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!! : )

  3. Rafa is 9-3 versus Novak in slam matches. 6-0 at the French Open, winning 18 of the 22 sets played. “Rafa hasn’t got what it takes to defeat Novak” is a really silly statement. Rafa’s current poor form notwithstanding.

    • Well, we shall see. It’s the current poor form that I’m using to judge really. Again, all the good luck that Djokovic since the beginning of this year cannot be for nothing. Also is the fact that, while Nadal has really done nothing to improve on his game, Djokovic has all these years be tweaking his game until it has now become PERFECT!
      Coupled with his current poor form, it be take a MIRACLE for Nadal to beat Novak at the quarters – that is if Nadal gets to the quarters!

    • You are an idiot and illiterate when it comes to tennis. Joker never ever win one FO he’s very hungry for it and he may never win it ! Look out if Rafa Grab this one again if not Thomas, Murray or even Roger will win !

  4. Sadly, Rafa still hasn’t got what it will take to defeat an imperious Novak Djokovic in the quarters. Very sad. End of an era.

  5. Back to tennis. I don’t think Rafa fully understands that his best tennis starts with proper court positioning. If he’s standing 10 feet behind the baseline on nearly every shot while his opponents are standing only 2 or 3 feet back, he’s putting himself at a tremendous disadvantage that’s nearly impossible to overcome against top players, and even against 2nd tier players – e.g. Fabio Fognini – in top form.

    If Rafa focuses on aggressive court positioning, everything else, including depth of shot, should fall into place. And he has to do it now. Not wait until the later rounds to do it. Because bad habits are hard to break. VAMOS!!!

    • agree 100% Rafa needs to remind himself don’t stand far behind the baseline that’s why he lost all those matches this year.Rafa Listen Don’t stand so far behind the baseline every time you do you lost so many points.write a note to yourself on a piece of tape and tape it on your finger please. stay closer to the baseline ! You can win this 10 th FO

  6. Yes – Xisca is Rafa’s “fiance`”. He wouldn’t have used that word unless he meant it. I suspect that he hasn’t made a public announcement yet because he tends to be fairly secretive about his love life. He was dating her for years before he went public with it. The same thing appears to be going on with the engagement, notwithstanding the fact that he let it slip out during today’s press conference.

    • The article I read said he used the version of fiancé that is not like ours. It means “serious girlfriend” per the Spanish connotation.

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