An interview with Rafael Nadal – ATP Finals RR3

Rafael Nadal finished the Ilie Nastase group with a 3-0 record after coming from a set down to defeat countryman David Ferrer at the O2 Arena and will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

Q. It seems you were not thinking about your semifinal; you were thinking only about today’s match because you worked very hard today.
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s the thing that I believe, should be like this. By the way, for me is an important victory. Doesn’t matter if I was qualified. As I said before, for me the main goal is try to arrive in good shape next year. Today was an opportunity to play against another of the top eight players of the world in a tough surface, good surface for him. I think he likes to play here.

For me was another opportunity to compete. I think I competed well. I won a very tough match. I think a very good match in terms of quality for moments. I am very happy. Three straight wins against top-eight players, that’s a great news for me.

Q. Are you concerned you might be a bit tired tomorrow now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe. But I am not worried about it, no. Today was an opportunity, as I say before, to compete well. 200 points are not the same when you are No. 1 and No. 2 than when you are No. 5. Winning today is almost like winning a 250 tournament. Was a lot of points to win today. I fighted to made that happen, no?

That’s a positive way to finish the season. Let’s see tomorrow what’s going to happen. But I am very happy about what I did in the last five weeks of the season. I finish the season the way that I really want to start the next one.

Q. You talk about building form and confidence for 2016. How much of a boost for your preparation for 2016 would it be to beat Novak tomorrow?
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s another step. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is a really difficult match against a player who is playing just better, (indiscernible) I believe. I need to play my best to have any chance. That’s what I going to try. But the right work is done. Lot of positive things during the last weeks. Very good confirmation this week.

So tomorrow is another opportunity to compete against the best, to see if I am able to compete at a very high level again.

But for me the main thing is keep going the same way, keep practicing the same way, the same things I am doing to try to start next year with that energy that I have today. If I am able to keep playing like this, I think next year can be a positive year for me.

Q. Can you talk about the challenge that Novak presents right now. Do you have to change tactics? You played him a few weeks ago and the score was not so close.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the score was very easy, 6-2, 6-2. The first set was not that easy in terms of game, without a doubt. The match should be closer. But at the end of the day was 6-2, 6-2. That’s it.

Let’s see tomorrow if I am able to win more games.

Q. And tactics?
RAFAEL NADAL: The tactic in tennis is small things that you can change. The best tactic possible is play very, very well. That’s the easier tactic. Then there is a couple of things that you know you have to do when you play against some players.

Against Novak, I know what I have to do. But be very difficult to make it. Is a big challenge. But I am not worried about it. I am happy about the things, how are going. Tomorrow is another step. Is a motivation for me to play that match, but at the same time I feel that I did what I had to do until today.

I play well, and that’s the thing I going to bring back home. I hope tomorrow have a great day and compete well and then we’ll see.

Q. A lot of people, top players, say one of the most important things about maintaining the ability to play at the very top is to get sufficient rest, to take weeks off. Roger says his vacations are very important. You’re now coming to the off-season just at the time when you’re getting your best form back together again. We know you’re playing the IPTL. Are you going to keep practicing or take a vacation?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t make the right work. I don’t deserve vacation this year (smiling). I going to have next couple of days after here. Yes, I have some days off, that week only. Then next Friday, Saturday and Sunday I have the charity event for my foundation. Olazabal won both event in Mallorca for that three days.

I going to practice physical performance. I not going to practice tennis next week, but probably Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I going to be in the gym starting. Then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I going to practice a little bit of tennis and physical performance still. Then IPTL.

For me is like being in Mallorca practicing. I going to be practicing a lot every day. It’s like preparation for next season. That’s it.

I come back to Mallorca. I have 14 to 22 that Joao Sousa is coming to practicing in Mallorca, few more days, then Abu Dhabi.

Q. Is this the best you’ve felt, full of energy, that you can remember? Sometimes at the end of the year you’ve arrived here very tired out from a long season. You seem very fresh this year.
RAFAEL NADAL: I am well. When you are coming after a tough period, when you feel you are better, you breathe better. You feel fresh. In terms of motivation for me, is great to see myself competing against the best already and competing well. That’s a lot of positive energy for me.

At the same time I am working so hard outside of the competition to compete well on the tournaments. So when that happens, that’s give me very good energy for keep going.

Q. Back to Novak again. Do you have to attack more here, go to the net, attack with the forehand, the backhand? Is it all the same?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am playing well. I going to try to keep playing the way I am playing. Then maybe is not enough. But I cannot go crazy. I cannot go on the court and thinking that I have to do something that I cannot do it.

I going to try to play my game. I going to try to play aggressive. I going to try to be strong mentally. I know the surface is better for him than for me obviously. So the things are in his part.

He plays in a very good surface for him. He plays a tournament that he won already couple of times. He come here after having an amazing season. All the positive things are for him.

But for me is a motivation. I know that, and I am here to try my best tomorrow. Then if is not enough what I have today, it’s fine. I going to keep working to keep improving the things that I need to do to try to be in better shape next time that I going to compete against him.

Tomorrow is an opportunity for me to play well, to see how far I am, and we’ll see.

Q. Talking about rivalries, obviously you’ve had a few rivalries, with Novak and Roger certainly being out in front. Are you able to explain which one might be more special? Closer with Novak, but with Roger it’s been so much longer.
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, I am happy to be part of that great rivalries. Both are I think great for the sport.

Different rivalries. I think against Federer what makes little bit more special for everybody is the combination of styles. That makes the match a little bit more tactic, the match little bit more interesting that one try to do one thing, the other try to do the other thing. Probably that makes our confrontation little bit more special for the people.

But for me, seriously, I feel happy to compete against that players. Both are probably one of the best of the history, the other one he is already one of the best of the history but he going to be better in the next couple years.

I feel happy to be part of that rivalries, and at the same time unlucky to be part of this era combined with them.

Q. Do you have the motivation, extra motivation, because you could create history here? You would have every single title in your grasp if you won this week.
RAFAEL NADAL: My motivation have been always high in every tournament. I don’t try harder here than in another tournament because I didn’t win, that I try harder in Roland Garros than Doha. Is not true. When I go on court, I try my best every single week. Some weeks the things go well, the other weeks the things go worse.

But for sure I would love to win here in the World Tour Finals. Is true that is always a very, very difficult thing to make that happen. But we’ll see. We’ll see. I going to keep fighting. Hopefully is not the last chance this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Video: ATP World Tour


  1. Rafa, You have done soooooooooooooo well and I really look forward to seeing you in Sydney and Melbourne,love,AlaineXX

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