China Open QFs: An interview with Rafael Nadal [VIDEO]

Rafael Nadal analyses his performance against Jack Sock as he looked to book his place in the semi-finals in Beijing.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You must be happy because it started pretty tough.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, was important victory for me. Obviously I finished the match playing better than what I started. It’s important because I came back.
This year I lost a lot of matches when I had an advantage. So have the chance to win a match when I start losing this one, so is important for me, too. Is important thing, important fact that I finished the match playing better than what I started. That is a positive thing for my game.

Q. What do you do in a situation like that? Sock had 14 winners to 3, playing at a high level. What is your strategy in terms of staying in the match, staying positive, waiting for him to slip a little? What do you tell yourself in that moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, just try to analyze why that’s happening. When you analyze why that’s happened, then you need to find a solution.
I think the first set I was not playing very bad, but I was playing three meters behind the baseline. So he was playing with a lot of time, plenty of time for do whatever he wanted with the ball. I think I analyzed that well at the right time. I was a little bit closer to the baseline later without losing the court, so he didn’t have all that time to hit his forehand every single time, no?
That was the key, in my opinion, the position on court. I changed that. He’s an aggressive player. I don’t pretend to be under control of the point all the time. But if I want to win, I know I cannot be on disadvantage in every single point. That’s what happened in the first.
Then in the next two sets, some point he had the advantage, control of the point, sometimes I had control of the point. Then was little bit more equal. I felt that I was solid with my serve during the whole match, playing with not many mistakes in general.
So is a good victory for me against a tough player.

Q. Obviously we’re getting towards the end of the season when players are a bit more tired. In 2009 and 2011, I think you played the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup Final back‑to‑back, back‑to‑back weeks. Andy Murray said he may consider missing the ATP Finals this year to play the Davis Cup Final, which is on a different surface. From your experience, how difficult is it to play both and do you understand why he’s thinking about that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don’t know. Everybody does what feels better for him, no? I played the Davis Cup and the World Tour Finals every time. Worked well for me. I won the matches in the Final.
Is a personal thing. For everybody is not the same story. Everybody have to do the thing that you feel good with yourself and the thing that you feel will be more positive for your career or for your moment.
So if he believes in terms of preparation of Final of Davis Cup, that is his first chance to win the Davis Cup, so he has to miss the World Tour Finals, good for him. If he believe he can manage to play both events, good for him, and good for everybody, too, for the crowd.

Q. What have you been working on specifically since the US Open? At this stage in your career, this stage of the year, is it better for you to have a training block or better to have match play?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you play matches, is because you are winning, so always is better be playing matches, no? At this stage of my career, I am working as much as I can between matches, on the warmups, every day, even if is a warmup for a match, I try to work on the things that I want to improve. I going to keep doing that till the end of the season.
My main goal is try to be ready for beginning of next one. That’s the real thing. For sure be in semifinals here is a very positive result for me in a very tough tournament, and be able to at least play four matches here is a great news for me. I hope to be ready for the end of the season.
But at the same time for me is important to practice as much as I feel I need to try to start the next season with the right level.

Q. You could be playing Fognini next. Will that match have any extra edge to it? Would it mean anything more to you playing him next after the US Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I lost him in the US Open, I lost him in Rio, and I lost him in Barcelona this year, and I won in the final of Hamburg.
No, he’s a great player. When you play against a great player, especially if you don’t play to your best, your chances are lower. If I am able to play my best tomorrow and if I am playing against Fognini or Cuevas, I am going to have my chances. If not, is going to be tough. It’s simple. Sport is simple. Win is player who plays better. Fognini play better in the three matches that he beat me.
I was not unhappy at all after the US Open lose. I didn’t play a very bad match. I played okay. He played great. He beat me. Congratulate him and keep going for me.

Q. Over the past year, you managed to make a semifinal on hard courts for the first time. Does it mean a lot to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, as I say before, is a positive result. We don’t going to celebrate now with semifinals on hard court. That’s the real thing.
Happy for that. But I was close to being in the semifinals of hard courts a few times this year. I lost a few matches, tough ones. But I think is not a big news that I am in a semifinals of a hard court tournament. I hope to be in a lot of semifinals until the end of my career.

Q. When speaking of your academy, not everyone can become a professional tennis player. It’s an opportunity for them to go to college. You started to play tennis at three years old. Maybe at one point of your life, have you thought about doing something else instead of playing tennis?
RAFAEL NADAL: I understand a little bit, not everything.

Q. The other day when you were talking about your academy, you said you set up a program to help the kids who would not be the professional athletes, to go into the college, to help them find another way to live. My question is, you started very early playing tennis, I think it was the age of three maybe. Have you ever thought about another option at any point of your career?
RAFAEL NADAL: Of going to the college?

Q. Yes, maybe.
RAFAEL NADAL: I was very lucky. Is true. I was very lucky because at very young age, I started with three years old. I did all the mandatory school that I have to do in Spain. I finished, then I tried to go for, I don’t know how to say in English, but for the next year of school. But after three months of that, I started the new year of school, I was in the top 100. It’s so difficult. You can imagine traveling almost every week around the world. Is almost impossible, seriously.
In my hometown, in Manacor, the teachers from the school that I have going in that moment were very nice with me during that first three months that I have been going through because they put me a lot of facilities to try to keep going. But for me was impossible, no, after that three months.
The good thing in my academy is we have the school inside academy, so you can imagine the timings, all the examinations, everything is under control for all of us. The kids have to work a lot to keep going in the next years of school, but at the same time you have the flexibility to understand when the player have to go and travel and play a tournament, then he come back and he will have all the work prepared.
Is something that I didn’t have that luck when I was a kid. With my academy, I believe is something that is very important for the kids because at that young age, you don’t want to miss school, you want to keep going with the school. There will be everything easier to manage that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Video: ATP World Tour


  1. VAMOS DEAR RAFA !!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) Great interview!!! VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) very happy for you… are playing w such dignity & stride & your striking forward is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! KUDOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!! : ) : ) Have a great time & enjoy lots & lots of groovy fun playing your amazing Tennis!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) Enjoy your precious endurance , outstanding focus , creativity at the Net, flexible reach & movement & your well aimed amazing serve!!!!! : ) : ) : ) ci…ci…Senior!!!!! : ) You are so incredible on hard courts……& I love your powerful presence on the court & how you developed your strong game over the years to be relevant and strong on ALL surfaces…. playing all style players…..God bless you sweetheart & looking forward to watching you play!!!!! EVERYTHING & enjoy your beautiful & magical tennis!!!!! : ) : ) VAMOS!!!!!! : )

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