US Open R3: An Interview With Rafael Nadal (September 5, 2015)

September 4, 2015 - Rafael Nadal reacts against Fabio Fognini (not pictured) in a men's singles third-round match during the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. (USTA/Andrew Ong)
Photo: USTA/Andrew Ong

Q. Did you feel something started to go a different way between the first two sets and the last three ones?
RAFAEL NADAL: He play great. It was not a match that I lost, even if I had opportunities. It’s a match that he wins.

So accept. Not happy that he played better than me, but that’s what happened. He played better than me, no? I didn’t play bad at all. I played a normal match, but not enough.

So not happy with that. But accept that he was better than me today.

Q. Do you have some problems with your legs, cramping?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Perfect.

Q. I want to know, when you were always behind one break in the fifth set, then you were coming back, what were your feelings at that moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: I fighted until the last point all the time, good attitude. Not enough to win today. I lost a couple matches this year like this.

But the good thing is my mind allows me to fight until the end as I did during all my career. Sometimes this year I was not able to do that.

So I am happy with that. I enjoyed the crowd. Was amazing support out there. Just very special feeling be out there with that support. I enjoyed that.

I tried to fight until the last ball. I believe I did, but was not enough today.

Q. What is your plan for the rest of the season?
RAFAEL NADAL: Probably Davis Cup and then Beijing, Shanghai, Basel, Paris.

Q. London?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can’t tell you now. I don’t know if I going to qualify.

Q. Is this tougher than other losses?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Is another lose. Not tougher. As I tell, you know, my mind allows me to fight until the end. Is something that I was missing for a while, that feeling that I am there.

For the nerves, for the anxious that I had for a long time this season, I was not able to do it. I was not able to be fighting the way that I was fighting today. So is an improvement for me.

I take that like a positive thing and I know what I have to do. I going to work on it.

Q. It’s the first time in the last 11 years that you cannot win a Grand Slam tournament. What does it mean to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the only thing that means is I played worse than the last 10 years. That’s the real thing.

By the way, for me was amazing win 10 years in a row Grand Slam. I think nobody did. You can imagine how difficult is make that happen.

Accept that was not my year and keep fighting till the end of the season to finish in a positive way for me. Finish the season with the feeling that I improved something from the beginning of the season. That’s something that I think I am doing.

I think I have a good base now. As I said, good thing is I am not playing terrible matches like I did at the beginning of the season. When I am losing, I am losing because the opponents beat me, not because I lose the match, as I did a lot of times at the beginning of the season.

That’s an improvement for me, so I have a base now. That is a start. I know what I have to do and I going to work on it.

Q. You lost three times to Fabio, so you know him well. Did he do anything surprising you tonight especially? I’ve never seen anybody making 70 winners against you.
RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe I am slower. I don’t know. (Smiling.)

Q. What is your opinion?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. He’s a player with a great talent, with huge shots, and he played amazing shots. But what I am doing worse is playing worse than what I used to do the last couple of years. That’s it.

We can be talking for one hour trying to create a reason. But the sport for me is simple, no? If you are playing with less confidence and you are hitting balls without creating the damage on the opponent that I believe I should do, then they have the possibility to attack.

I am playing with little bit less mistakes than before. I have better feelings on the ball. Now remain to have again the speed, that extra speed on the ball, on the winner.

I want the defense, defense a little bit more longer, and hit easier winners. Have been little bit tough for me to hit winners tonight.

But that’s it. Not a big story. Is just improve small things that make a big difference.

Q. Do you feel slower?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I was joking.

Q. You say you’re feeling good mentally now. What feels different? What is not as good as you want it to be?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you hit the ball a bit shorter, the opponent has more space. If you hit the ball with a little bit of less confidence, then there is not as much topspin like used to be.

If you hit shorter, you will run slower. Is not you run slower, but the opponent take the ball earlier so it looks like you are slower, no?

Is easy to understand, easy to explain, difficult to change, but I going to do it.

Q. Tiger was in your box. You have almost the same number, and ESPN make a survey who going to win the 15th, you or Tiger. You know the new generation is coming in golf and tennis. Who has the bigger chance you win the 15, you or Tiger?
RAFAEL NADAL: I hope we make that happen next year both. It was a great honor for me to have Tiger in my box. For me like a sportsman he’s a big example. His attitude on the golf course for me always was a big inspiration.

So when I saw him play, when I saw his attitude, I see the eyes that he has when he has to shot, has the difficult shot, the decisive shot. Is very special. I don’t see a lot of sportsmen with that self-confidence, with that intensity on his face when he had to hit the important shot.

So for me, he’s a great example, great inspiration. I always say the same. I don’t have idols. But that’s closest thing that I have: him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, via Tennis Panorama


  1. Rafa is a very tough competitor. He very seldom displays any temper tantrums and plays his heart out. He has an amazing career and has accomplishment much success. Rafa admits his errors and praises every tennis opponent that beats him. He promises to work harder to improve his game. Everybody has a bad season and 2015 is Rafa. I wish him all the luck and success in 2016 and I’m sure he will win a major for his fans. I want to take this opportunity to thank Rafa for taking the time to autograph my program at the US Open on 9-4-15. To his credit, he took the opportunity to show his fans that he appreciates them by signing autographs after his practice session unlike Serena or Roger. He is very kind, considerate and compassionate of his fans. Yea, he may have had a disappointing year; however he’s human and can’t win everything. He’s worked very hard over the years, gave us 150% and is a true champion. I will forever be his fan even when his career is over!!!!!!! Thanks Rafa for everything.

  2. I think the best thing about seeing Rafa not doing well….

    Is knowing when he makes that COMEBACK! It’s going to be amazing!!!!

    I’m watch every match waiting for it. I believe 100% that he will be back!

  3. The pace of that match was amazing. Fognini may never play that well again. Nobody should feel bad about 5 sets that come down to a heartbeat basically. I still say we are doing our athletes a disservice by asking them to play at almost 100 degrees day after day after day. We have air conditioning and at least the center court should be climate controlled. Lord knows the patrons pay enough for the privilege of seeing the best players in the world.

  4. Easy for you to make such a blanket statement. You are the one that doesn’t seem to understand tennis. If it was only about the ranking, if it was so simple, there would be no reason to even have tournaments.
    When you have difficulty at work, are you going to quit your job and go live in the woods? It’s really insulting that you feel you should decide that one of the best players of all time should just get lost so you don’t have to lower yourself to watch his play on court.
    Just stop watching his matches and posting on fan sites and that will spare all of us.

    • Well said Debby : ) Rafa’s amazing Tennis is on going, improving, and moving forward beautifully!!!!!! His team is by far the BEST, TEAM in TOWN !!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) He is THE BEST & HE HAS THE BEST around him!!!!! Many players only wished they such an intelligent, loyal group around them. All the questionable comments folks are making w respect to Rafa or his team are empty , filled w air and lack in good judgment & tact. Rafa’s Tennis is his business! God bless them all moving forward!!!!!

  5. Rafa you played an amazing match last night and you fought to the end of the battle I look at you and see lot of improvement but you need a new coach to help you beat the top players, and the lower rank players. if you don’t get a new coach there is not any surprises for your opponents ! You mixed your game up well but you are an amazing volleyer and needs to be moving forward to the net and don’t stand so far behind the baseline ! come on listen and get John Mac as an assistant he knows all your missing link. Overall you played fantastic and I’ll always love you as my tennis icon !

    • I do agree, RAFA should get a new coach, I do think he is slower than before , maybe a matter of weight, I don’t know, but for me, he’s still the best and I like the way he fights,

  6. Great match! Lots of fireworks. Great fight from Rafa and of course, congrats to
    Fabio for the win. A few points just made the difference. That is sport!

    Rafa is making great strides in competing and I applaud him for that.
    Kei, 2014 finalist was knocked out in 1st round and so many of the women’s top seeds were also knocked out early. Milos and David were also knocked out yesterday. Media, leave Rafa alone, already!

    Like Rafa said in his interview, not a big story. Just wish the media would lighten up
    and give him a break about every single loss. It’s not a big deal, just a loss. Life goes on.
    He’s still a great champion.

    He’s still a joy to watch and as a devoted fan, I will always support him.

  7. Rafa’s career is over. It is a brutal fact but he is gone…anyone who has a two set lead and a break in the third set AND STILL DOES NOT WIN especially against a lower ranked player ought to quit the sport-do something else: coach, open your tennis academy, whatever. I am no longer a fan of Nadal—sad but true. To all you Nadal fans, LET US FACE REALITY. HIS TENNIS DAYS ARE OVER!

    • Yes u r not a true rafa fan after 10 years he give happiness to us and when he is in adversity u turn down him… gud luck

  8. I will always be a fan and am sure you will soon be number one again. I have always admired your character and integrity. Your the best in my book. I know losing las tonight was tough but you have a very positive outlook and that I respect.

  9. What an amazing game. I saw you back to the old form. It was an exciting game. I hated to see you lose but Fognini did a great job too. We will see you next time. I’m a true fan and here forever to support you. My tears and all. God Bless and know, we are behind you and love you. You have class!! Blessings Kathy Kim Oregon USA

  10. Good match Rafa. Like other fans I will not have the same interest in US Open without you competing. You were quite brilliant last night ,and I have watched you and admired your fearless, play for the last ten years. Your strength of character will continue to lead you to fulfill your goals….Stay positive….keep your resolve intact…and never change from the kind, caring soul that we all love. Jean Palmer Winnipeg Fan Club. Winnipeg, Canada.

  11. I dont know but just watch closely the third set after up a breakin 3 rd …. i think rafa has a win in his mind…that made a little dip in intensity….
    Though fog.. played good but now rafa should play with same intensity till he wins the match..
    I would not be sad if it was against any top 5 player or fabio have win first 2 sets and rafa would made a comeback but any how loose in 5 th

    However he knows what he needs to do and thats great
    Rafa pls. comeback we hve just seen ur never say die attitude in 5th set

  12. Love your great attitude and fighting spirit…no doubt you will be back and on the winning path. Tennis needs Rafa …just isn’t the same without you. Will watch the women but not interested as much in the mens matches. Vamos RAFA, you are the best!!

  13. VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) Your profound wisdom is beautiful and your intelligent interviews are very special !!!!!! KUDOS ….. A pleasure to read your wise answers!!!!!! You have such an amazing accurate clarity & beautifully direct all your interviews to an over all substantial perspective!!!!!! Your inspired strength & bright mind are always in the right place!!!!!! Like you, I do not have idols….. but I deeply admire your exceptional Tennis journey & the person that you are, along w your loving family & loyal team, and highly respect your classy character beyond the courts. Have a great time celebrating w your loved ones all that you are and all your solid improvements & achievements thus far in the season!!!!!! Enjoy every minute of it & slide forward w your God given blessed attitude!!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy your time off sweetheart & God bless you!!!!!!!!!!! : ) Lots of love & happiness to you & yours!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) : )

  14. I sat calmly and watched the match until the third set. I said to myself, just a blip in RAFAs’ service game. He started well in the fourth and then I went to bed thinking RAFA still has the match. He looked great, served well and competed. Next thing, I woke up in the middle of the night to see a battle in the fifth.
    I am SAD but NOT gutted as before. Why?, because I am able to put his losses in PERSPECTIVE to his achievements. It’s still tough to accept the loss but it’s not as devastating as in the past.
    The thing I take from this match was the FIGHT In the fifth, congrats to Fognini but RAFA is still the best to me.
    I cannot sit here and analyze what he did wrong or anything because I don’t play tennis, but what was evident was HEART as usual.

    Forever fan RAFA.

    Group hug from all RAFA fans.

  15. All of your accomplishments combined make you the GOAT. Please stop doubting yourself, you still have everything you need to be as fierce and successful as ever. Remember, you have a winning record against all top ten players! Believe…….vamos, Rafa!!!!

  16. I have been watching each and every match. I hope Rafa knows the shortcomings.
    — too much short ball
    — very less DTL and not close to the line
    — 50% of the rafa returns of shots landed 3/4 of the court that gave ample opportunity to the opponent to return hard and change direction.
    — FH CC is a loop with less top spin which give ample time for the opponent to hit DTL or CC

    Hope you are working hard to overcome the slump hope you return to 2010 form which was awesome and that form you can easily beat Joker in 4 sets (2010 was a perfect game for RAFA hope to return to 2010)

    • It pains me deeply to see Nadal lose and struggle so much.The reason Nadal had a huge advantage over Federer is not just his game but his mental strength. Ant time the match was close,i knew Nadal will win.
      Nadal lost his mental edge superiority and this is much more difficult to recover from than physical injuries.
      Some things that could help Nadal’s game:
      1- His toss is very low and it kills his service rhythm to accelerate and catch up with the ball
      2- His top spin can only be effective when they are deep. When there short, it is like batting practice for the likes of Fognini, hence 70 winners
      3- Nadal continues to hit the ball back to his opponent specially when he moves wide to his backhand to hit an inside out forehand cross court where his opponent is who would hit it back down the line to an open court that Nadal cannot track down
      4- Nadal needs to vary the location of his serve so he is not as predictable
      5- I believe that Toni has done a great job coaching Nadal but it is a good idea to bring in another coach to inject fresh ideas.

      • Until I see a new coach added to the team,Rafa will continue to keep losing, he is playing UncleTony;s game..

  17. They both played fantastically, and looking at the stats, Rafa had faster first and second serves, played more Aces, had fewer faults, won more net points, and he still he lost due to fewer winners. If only he hadn’t lost his final serve game, he could be through to the next round. Never mind Rafa, we are still behind you, no matter what. Vamos

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