Qatar Open Final: An interview with Rafael Nadal (January 9, 2016)

Photo: Qatar Tennis/Facebook
Photo: Qatar Tennis/Facebook

Q. Can you give us your thoughts on the match? What are your biggest takeaways from the week and from this match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, for the match is easy to analyze. I played against a player who did everything perfect. I know nobody playing tennis like this ever. Since I know this sport I never saw somebody playing at this level.

So just congratulate him and that’s it. I know I can do a few things better, but the real thing is with these conditions playing during the night and with the feeling of the ball here, it’s so difficult to have chances against him playing like this. Is probably impossible.

But the real thing is I had a positive week. I am playing well, and I gonna keep working hard to try to be ready for Australia. And I think I will be. I am motivated for it.

And Australia is a different story, different conditions. And it’s obvious that Novak playing like this is going to be so difficult to beat him for anyone.

But for my side, the only thing that I can do is watching positive all the things that I improved the last couple of months. If I lost 6-1, 6-2 today, it’s because I played against a player that played at the level that I didn’t know since the day of today. So that’s it. Not because I did a disaster or not because I am playing bad or because — no. The opponent was too good. And when something like this happens, the only thing you can do is applause him and congratulate the opponent.

For my side, I am happy the way that I am working and I gonna keep working.

Q. You have played Novak 47 times now, more than anyone else on tour. Are there still any secrets between you two, or do you pretty much know exactly what to expect each time?
RAFAEL NADAL: You don’t expect play against a player who plays at this level. So that’s it. Every match is different, you know, a little bit how it goes, but today was so special. 

Q. You have obviously talked about his game, which was more or less perfect, probably the most perfect game you have ever seen. Is it the length of his groundstrokes that sticks out? Because he was hitting more or less any ball right at the baseline, which made it impossible to do anything.
RAFAEL NADAL: When I say perfect, is not one thing in particular. It’s everything. If not, it’s not perfect.

Q. In response to the first question you said one of the things you are trying to do is get ready for Australia. How far are you from winning a Grand Slam again? Are you ready? Are you there?
RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe I am three weeks away, maybe I am five months away or six or nine, or maybe I am forever away. You know, you never know how these thing goes.

I am playing good. We will see what’s going on in the next four next Grand Slams and see what’s going on the next couple of years. I cannot tell you how far I am. I know last year I was so far (smiling). This year is different story.

Q. In Novak’s matches earlier in the week he was not at this level at all. Were you watching his matches? Were you surprised at how he managed to elevate it so much today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, when somebody is arriving with that confidence and when somebody is so good like him and arrives with that self-confidence, something like this can happen, but the real thing is I saw him playing yesterday. I saw him playing before yesterday a little bit. And from TV it looks a little bit different like today, but that’s it.

No, he played so good. Accept it and, as I said before, congratulate him. No, no, nothing to say. The only thing is the opponent is better than me today. And here especially. Let’s see in Australia and let’s see later during the whole season. I’m going to fight and I feel ready to fight, and I feel ready and excited about this fight and I hope to be closer.

Q. You said that you’re pleased with the way things are going from your side. But when you see a lot of positive things on your side and then you step on the court against someone who is, like you said, playing perfect, is there any sense of frustration or you’re able to not feel that way?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you get frustrated for somebody that is better than you, it’s stupid. The real thing, no, is I always think that if you are frustrated because somebody knows how to do something better than you, you are too arrogant or you are not smart enough. No, that’s it.

When somebody is better than you, you accept and you work to try to improve yourself. That’s it. No, no, for sure I am not frustrated. I look the things very clear, and I am always honest. Today he’s better than me without a doubt.

We will see during the whole season. No, no, that’s all. Today? He’s better than me. We will see in two weeks or we will see in five months. The only thing that you can do is wait that the opponent is not playing like this all the time. That is difficult to play like this all the time, it’s obvious. And I gonna wait my moment.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. Please don’t judge me…But I think Novak now is number one just because he hasn’t got excellent playing opponents.. Rafa? I love him and many others do, but remember that season 2015 hasn’t really passed so quickly. Rafa is a half Rafa he used to be before season 2015. He tries of course to have a better form, and we all see the results which give a proof he works on it..just need time…Or maybe to invite some coaches..i know he loves Toni, but maybe some other advice and trainings could help Rafa to refresh his style of the game(Boris Becker has improved of course Novak’s game, before Becker he wasn’t as good as nowadays, but still think ATP tour is weaker than it was)…you know, it seems like Novak knows Rafa as his own five fingers…It shouldn’t be like that…Rafa should be very unpredictable to Novak on every match with him…Sorry, I’m not tennis expert of’s just my opinion..
    Roger Federer and many others are now just weaker as Rafa..that’s why everybody thinks Novak is “perfect”. But what was on Roland Garros is a sensation of course 🙂 Stan the man was fantastic) I respect Novak, but sorry, for me his tennis is “automatic”, i can’t see a beauty. Rafa’s tennis is so adorable to me, it’s beautiful, and always gives me inspiration to never give up.
    Vamos, Rafa!!!!

  2. Hi rafa you played really great and keep it up,I sat glued to the tv screen,I could watch you play all day,cannot wait for the next match by for now.Glennis from the Isle of Man.

  3. “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” –Ernest Hemingway
    Fans don’t lose faith in Rafa ….our Hero will be back…These are testing times…We need to support him and wish him best of luck.

  4. Rafa needs clear game plan an strategy to counter Djokovic game and defeat him. Just saying i will work harder will not suffice. Rafa’s career is in his hands. Like he raised as teenage to conquer Roger on clay, grass and hard courts. He should show same zeal to conquer back Djoker. Where there is will, there is a way.

  5. At least Roger has a very legitimate excuse – which he never uses BTW – for losing a few matches here and there: he’s 34 years old. Rafa, on the other hand, is only 29, still in the prime of his career. But as Pete Sampras pointedly remarked last summer after the Spaniard suffered another early round exit at Wimbledon, “HE ACTS LIKE HIS CAREER IS OVER.”

  6. So sad, Rafa clearly has no Strategy to overcome Djokovic nor is he willing to replace Uncle Toni.or add to his team. Instead he’s simply waiting for Novak to drop in form. Hear him:

    ”The only thing that you can do is wait that the opponent is not playing like this all the time. That is difficult to play like this all the time, it’s obvious. And I gonna wait my moment.”

    Is this a wise move or a lazy one? What if Djokovic does not drop in form?

    This is so SAD, terribly SAAAAAADDD to say the least! With this type of lazy man’s mentality, it’s obvious that it will be difficult for Rafa to win another GS again.

    Everybody that is somebody in Tennis is retooling their game, their strategy: Milos Raonic (winner of Brisbane 2016) just added Carlos Moya to his team, Roger just added Ivan Ljubicic etc. But Rafa still sticks to Uncle Toni??? There is indeed fire on the mountain!!

    CHANGE is the only permanent thing in life, and those who refuse to change will be swept away with the wind…..

    So sad. It’s really SAD.

    Again, Rafa is praising Novak to high heavens; meanwhile, if one praises Novak on this site, the fanatics here will angrily abuse and advise that one should leave this site and join Novak fan site. But meanwhile, Rafa is almost worshipping Novak Djokovic as if Novak is some Tennis god!! What an irony!!1

    Again, how can Rafa ever hope to defeat Novak when he so much adores and worships him with praises?! Even at the peak of Rafa’s dominance in Tennis, Novak never praise-worshipped Rafa. Instead he kept re-strategising and re-strategising on how to beat Rafa until he found the key. Novak never described Rafa’s game as perfect because he always believed Rafa is beatable.

    So sad. This is super sad.

    • Agree. Rafa never learns. his coaching time have zero intelligence. They never read anything about how powerful is self-believe. They don’t know how mind and unconscious work. I am really mad and sad at the same time that nobody tell him to shut up about DJOKER perfection.

      • Why don’t you just go and join the Djokovic fan club?? What do you really know about Rafa and his team? Can you name one “professional coach” who has coached a player or players to win 14 grand slams?

    • LOL, at least Rafa has lost against at the present best player but what about Federer losing against Raonic who has been injured many times and he still doesn’t look so good and is far to be the best?

      • “Alias multiple nicknames” take it! you know exactly what I mean, take it! just the big losers act the way you do lol

      • What a dumb comparison. Federer at 34 at least has a game on which he can rely. If he gets broken, it’s a combi of him failing to do what he can do very well: serve and keep the rally short. Rafa’s serve play against Djoko has become the men’s copy of Aranxta Sanchez serving: not doing anything else than bringing the ball into play (and getting slaughtered!).

      • How low can you sink Clarcybrown? “there may be extra unordinary reasons why Novak is playing that strong who knows how”. In the same post you urge others not be rude and you come up with this suggestive remark yourself? My God. There is no hope for people like you.

    • Well said DT. Rafa hoping and praying that Novak’s game falls apart instead of the Spaniard raising his own game is very sad. This is not Rafa The Warrior that I used to know. This is Rafa The Wimp. Very sad indeed.

      • How rude calling Rafa names Novak is playing out of his mind, there may be extra unordinary reasons why Novak is playing that strong who knows. Rafa has been playing much better, so he didn’t play well against Novak don’t mean he cant.

      • If the fire is gone, better leave the premises. Rafa should quit as he has given up. It’s painful, but the best of all the bad scenarios.

  7. I applause Rafa he is so honest and positive and has the right mentality to surge ahead again even after a devastating defeat by Novak . And when he speaks he does so without an ounce of bitterness or jealousy , and with Rafa you know its genuine and not false.Hoping Rafa has a great Australian Open and goes far in the competition , roll on next Sunday can’t wsit

  8. Rafa, played so good but Djokovic, did a wonderful job, we can not denied it. Even though I see Rafa such a great man, as a player and human being, he has a big touch of class. Not only his fans but everybody recognize that, that is why also not only fans but EVERYBODY loves our RAFA💝💝💝💋💋

  9. That what needed
    Rafa said he is ready for next fight with novak
    and feel excited about it

    Rafa needs little adjustment playing novak
    1 serve needs to be going good , mix it up with more body serve rafa is good with it
    2 the ball must land1 to 3 feet beyond service box area consitently , even when playing far from baseline. Needs to look into string tension
    3 a liitle quick on the balls
    4 play to his forehand side and we all know novak will play rafa backhand so instead of hitting to many cross court backhands go for inside out forehand to his forehand side more
    Dont know why he is not trying inside out forehand recently
    5 lobs and net play is critical

    V all know rafa raises level in gs

    Vamos rafa love ur attitude

    • What the heck are we talking about, ‘next time’. Next time Rafa will again look like an afraid dear into two headlights, as soon as Djoko breaks him in game 1. Djoko is a 100% in rafa’s head. Djoko in his turn is awaiting the Nadal serve the way men await women’s serve (e.g. in mixed doubles): like big opportunities to go for a winner.

  10. Every day my fondness for Rafa grows more and more as a loyal fan. I love his candor, humor and honesty.

    Ironically, I didn’t watch the match because it wasn’t televised on my tennis channel.
    I wasn’t surprised or disappointed with the outcome. Rafa is working hard as he strives for his best result which I am sure he will achieve. He already started the 2016 season with a bang which is so positive. I am so thrilled for him!

    Right now, Novak is playing lights out tennis but I never go out of my way to watch his matches.
    I don’t find them very exciting or compelling, little drama. But he is playing flawless tennis right now free of any injuries. So good for him. His quest for world domination of men’s tennis seems
    to be his mission.

    I, personally prefer to watch the younger players trying to break through with their first title or
    the veteran players staying competitive and still winning titles and those journeymen playing
    for their first title and those players such as Rafa on the comeback trail. I love seeing equal opportunities for all the players.

    Best wishes to Rafa and his team at the AO Open. He certainly has a lot of positives to look forward to. Always a fan.

  11. salut rafa , tu as fait un très très bon tournoi de doha mais pour la final je suis sur que tu n’ai pas joué à fond ça j’en suis sur !!!! VAMOS ………..

  12. Keep on elevating ur level Rafa. U were like this in 2010 & 2013. Keep on going. I think, if u can improve ur serve and flatten will hurt djoker.

  13. VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) Very nice to read your post Dohar final interview !!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) Enjoy lots of fun in Australia & your great time on the court !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : )
    ps: I always admired CARLA SUA’REZ ……. she is an AMAZING, strong classy Tennis player !!!!! : ) Love watching her matches!!!!!!!!!! She is talented & humble & hopefully you end up playing mix doubles with her. The two of you will be commanding the court & compliment each other’s game style !!!! : ) : ) : )

  14. Wise comments by a real, honest, smart and talented player, with that wonderful mentality he will get more and more achievements for sure
    Vamos Rafa for the AO!!!!!!!!!!!!

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