Q. Rafa, how have you felt the past few days practicing here in Melbourne, and your thoughts on starting the tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no, I have had good practices here. Very happy to be here again. Good feelings. Just trying to be ready.
Q. Can you talk about your first round. You’re playing someone you know well, you played doubles with him.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, very tough first round. Not a lucky first round, I think, for me. For him either. Will be a tough match. I need to be ready to play a very good tennis if I want to be through.
Q. Rafa, your match with him here in 2009 was a pretty spectacular match. Where does that sit in your memory?
RAFAEL NADAL: Obvious that that match gave me the chance to win the only Australian Open that I won. That was an unforgettable memory for me. I think was a huge level of tennis there. Some spectacular points. A lot of people always talk me about that match, no?
I enjoyed that match. Was tough one. Was a great experience.
Q. How are conditions of play this year? Same as last year, faster, slower?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s not fast, not slow. It’s not unbelievable fast. But I think the outdoor courts, the outside courts are faster. I played in Margaret, Hisense and Rod Laver. The courts are not slow. A little bit faster. But okay, not bad. Good feelings.
Q. Rafa, how do you feel about playing another left-hander? Do you think you’re better against a right-hander? How does that affect you?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can tell you that on Tuesday after the match (smiling).
I played a lot of times with lefties. We’ll see, no? Is not about playing against a lefty, is about playing against a player that has a huge potential, is able to reach a great level of tennis. If you are not playing your best, is very, very dangerous match.
Q. Rafa, we talk in the media a lot about the big four, maybe the figure five with Stan. Do you think with the way Novak is playing now, the way he played last year, is Novak in a league of one above everybody else or do you think there is still that big group of four or five players who can still win big tournaments?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know, no. Is your name, big four. Big one is your name, not my name. I really don’t care much about it. Just the only thing that is true, is Novak is playing at better level than the rest of the players now. That’s obvious, no? The way he’s playing, it’s difficult to see him losing matches.
Just can congratulate him for made that happen.
Q. Can I ask you about your academy? What is the particular philosophy behind it? Is it to find the next Rafa or to sort of teach people about life and tennis and everything else?
RAFAEL NADAL: The next Djokovic or the next me or the next Andy or Roger, you know, is difficult to find that, no? I think these players are a natural talent players. It’s difficult to teach them. For sure, it’s important for all of us to have the right people around us during the years that we grow. But the natural talent has a big impact on all of this.
But in my academy, we really hope to have the right team to help the kids to bring the tennis at the best level possible. The tennis academy, that should be the main goal, just have the better team possible to help the kids to become better and better tennis players.
But that’s something that is the key, but in the other hand, for us, and for me personally, I don’t understand that without the right education, the right values. For us is so important to have the right people to help the kids to grow with the right values, with the right education. For us is important the studies, the school. That’s why we have international school inside academy. We have a medical center inside academy, with nutritionists, with everything.
We going to have all the things together inside the academy that makes the life easier for the kids, but at the same time to try to help them in all aspects, to prepare them for the future, even if they are professional tennis players or like most of the players that are going to come are not going to be professional tennis players, that happens everywhere, because the percentage is very small. So prepare them for university. At the international school, we going to help them make that transition to the best universities possible and prepare them for the life.
Sports, education and values I think are together. If we can have the right combination, for sure is an unforgettable and great experience for the future of these kids.
Q. When you finish playing, do you think you will be much involved in the academy? Will you do some coaching?
RAFAEL NADAL: Never say never. I cannot say what’s going on on the future. For me the academy, it’s obvious that I going to be very involved. That’s why we build the academy in my hometown.
For me the sport is a big passion, not only tennis, but sport in general is a big passion. Have an academy that we have the facilities to receive sports teams in almost all the facilities, all the different sports. It’s something that for sure motivates me a lot.
I am sure that I going to be, I don’t know if traveling like a coach, but practicing and hitting balls with the kids in my academy very often.
Q. Do you plan to change your schedule at all because of the Olympic Games?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know if you know my schedule, but I play here, I play Rio de Janeiro, I play Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Queen’s, Wimbledon, Toronto, Cincinnati. That’s my schedule.
If I lose more than you expect, then you play more. But if you win more than you expect, you play less.
Q. When you said Novak is playing at a level where he doesn’t look like he’s going to lose too many matches, how quickly can that change? When other people are trying to catch up, how quickly can things change?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. Good thing of Novak, the better thing, is he’s an amazing player. Second good thing is he never has injuries, so that helps a lot to have full confidence on yourself, and to don’t lose the rhythm never.
When you are in the top, you have injuries, is tougher to recover that confidence and that level of tennis. So going to be decisive if he keep going that way with no injuries, that he has the chance to practice an play as much as he can, that matches he wons. That’s something great for him, very positive thing.
And then I hope to be there fighting to be closer to him. I am sure that the rest of the players wants the same than me.
Q. What do you remember from being a young player having to learn English? What challenges did that present you when you were younger doing interviews, on-court presentations?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me was much more fun before. I don’t care about what I was saying. I only had a few words, that’s it (smiling).
Q. So it was fun not knowing English?
RAFAEL NADAL: Was good fun but was not good.
Sources: Australian Open, 7Tennis