Australian Open R1: An interview with Rafael Nadal (January 19, 2016)

Q. You started the fifth set with a break. What do you think happened after that?
RAFAEL NADAL: The match is five sets. There is not only last set. He was playing amazing in the last set. If you decide everything in one set, the opponent is ready to hit all the balls at hundred percent, then you are in trouble.

He had a lot of success hitting all the balls full power in the fifth. I have to congratulate him.

But I am not happy about the way that I played the first. In the fourth I was not very bad, but he played better than me, too. I had my chances in the fourth, too, with that Love-30 that he played well. That’s it.

He played better than me. He played more aggressive than me. He taked more risks than me, and he won. Probably he deserved.

Q. What do you think you would have done differently? Do you have any regrets regarding your own game through this match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. The match is a tough lose for me obviously. Obviously is tough, especially because is not like last year that I arrived here playing bad and feeling myself not ready for it.

This year was a completely different story. I have been playing and practicing great and working so much. You know, is tough when you work so much and arrives a very important event and you’re going out too early.

Is tough, but at the same time, I know I did everything that I can to be ready for it. Was not my day. Let’s keep going. That’s the only thing.

No, no, there is no more things to do than keep practicing hard, keep practicing the same way that I was doing the last four, five months.

Today I was not ready to compete the way that I was practicing, so not happy with that. That’s it. I hope the next time I can compete better than what I did today, because I was playing good.

Q. How do you explain today you didn’t compete as well as you thought you would?
RAFAEL NADAL: In terms of being competitive, I was competitive. In terms of creating damage to the opponent with my forehand, I didn’t. So I was hitting forehands, and he was able to keep hitting winners.

Cannot happen when I am hitting my forehand. The opponent, if he wants to hit a winner is because he take too much risk. In my opinion was not the case of today. I was hitting winners. I was hitting forehands. He was able to keep going for big shots in a not very bad position.

That was the biggest issue for me today. I don’t know a hundred percent the reason, to be honest. I was doing that good on the practices and the previous tournaments. Was not the case today.

Q. Do you feel that you deserved a bit more support from the crowd, especially towards the end in the fifth set?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. The crowd is great.

Q. Seems like a lot of times in Grand Slams guys have been playing freely against you, with more confidence, Kyrgios, Brown, Fognini. Do you sense in these matches that players are playing more aggressively and more confidently against you than it used to be, or is it something that’s different on your side of the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: The game is changing a little bit. Everybody now tries to hit all the balls. There is no balls that you can prepare the point, no? Everybody hit the ball hard and try to go for the winners in any position. Game become a little bit more crazy in this aspect.

But the real thing is my mission is make them play with difficult positions. So if they want to go for lot of winners with very difficult positions, the chance of having success is not very high. If I let them hit from good positions and they obviously wants to go for winners, then the chances for success are much higher.

So that’s the mistake for me today. Last year was different story, no? Don’t want to compare last year, because last year was a different issues.

But this year, the real thing is I was not enough aggressive with my forehand during the whole match. I didn’t feel it. I tried. I fighted. I was ready to do it, and I didn’t. So I am sad for that.

Q. We’re a year on from you saying you were lacking that confidence from a year ago. Is there a different way you’re approaching the majors? This is the third one where you’ve lost fairly early compared to the other tournaments.
RAFAEL NADAL: I play majors same way I play other tournaments all the year. All my life I played every tournament putting all that I have there.

When I am playing in a 250 or 500 or Masters 1000 or Grand Slam, when I go on court, I am not more focused. Nothing in general when I am playing the bigger tournaments. I try my best in every single match of the year. That’s it.

Sometimes you have success; sometimes you do not. Today it is obvious that I didn’t.

Q. Your coach was telling us yesterday that you’re trying to change some things in your game to advance it more. Do you think because it’s still early in the season you’re going to need a few more months to actually see these changes make a difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: You never know what’s going on in the future. I felt myself that I was practicing great, playing very good.

I was practicing little bit different, trying to be more inside the court. It’s obvious that all the changes are not easy and especially are difficult to make that happen when you are competing.

But the real thing is if I am not doing that, then I am dead. I can play defensive or offensive. But if you stay in the middle, finally, at the end of the day, you are not doing nothing.

You cannot be in the middle of being offensive or defensive, because it is obvious that finally you don’t have a consistent strategy, then you are lost.

Q. When you are in a long match, like, do you feel when you’re not playing aggressive enough, do you push yourself to be more aggressive or you realized that you were not aggressive only at the end of the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I detected that before the end of that match. I tried. I was playing a little bit more aggressive after the first set. I won the next two. Then in the fourth the real thing is he had the break in the first game of the fourth. He played amazing that game.

I was able to be back, and I put myself in a position to win the match. But then he played amazing in the last four points of that 6-5. In the tiebreak, he hit all the shots bombs, no?

So the biggest problem was the first set, in my opinion. He was not playing that well in the first set. I should take advantage there, but I didn’t. Then you lose the first. You play against a player that has a good potential and he’s able to hit the ball so hard and take risk, then you are under pressure the rest of the match.

I could win the match, but I lost because he felt great. In my opinion, he played better than what he was doing the last couple of months, especially in the last two sets. He played so aggressive, and the serve was huge for him today.

I just can congratulate him because he deserved, and I wish him all the best for the rest of the tournament.

Source: Australian Open


  1. In my opinion, Rafa, you need a new strategy. I think Uncle Tony should add a new coach to try some new approaches. I am not suggesting replacing your Uncle, but please note that the top winning players have added new main coaches to their teams. I would also suggest that players have learned how to take advantage of your spin serves and top spin returns. The Joke wins his matches with hard flat deep serves. So does Wawrinka and Isner and now Verdasco. Also, they are hitting deep into the corners or taking you off the court. More hard serves to the body would throw them off balance. I am not trying to coach you, just making some observations. I think a new assistant coach with a good track record could help return you to being the winner your fans would like to see again. I am a long term fan of yours and will continue to be and wish you the best!

    • Your message reads kindly and it is great that Rafa has many caring fans! I would suggest it is not about a new coach. His coach is excellent & effective, plus is a solid team behind him! . When Rafa approaches the court w aggressive mind set, his RETURNS & his SERVE are creative, varied & yield winners! Key here is the fact that Rafa indeed is well aware of WHAT HE IS DOING EFFECTIVELY…..WHAT HE MUST BE DOING MORE OF…… HOW TO POSITION HIMSELF IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH & KEEP COMMAND IN THE COURT . FURTHERMORE, RAFA CLEARLY HAS A FINE SENSE OF WHAT ASPECTS OF HIS GAME TO PRACTICE MORE OF…… Handling his Tennis affairs throughout his career & especially since he came back from injuries has been yielding steady growth & development in his serve & powerful RETURNS, his speed & ENDURANCE & fitness….. THERE are many aspects to the game , varied conditions & other crucial important moments behind the scene that us fans can only imagine. The load is huge & he is doing very well with his mighty all best efforts to keep up being current & competitive. I suggest a good helpful strategy for us fans is to keep our fan support in perspective, always encouraging & supporting him as he moves along. Such support may be the best any fan can offer. Thank you!
      VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) 🙂 : )

  2. @EM – your comment The PED’s are out of his system.
    Once he gets back on them he’ll be fine .

    EM: Who the hell do you think you are saying this about Rafa, Rafa is the only athlete I would bet the bank because I know he has never and would NEVER dope. That is the nastiest remark and as a Rafa fan I RESENT THAT remark. FREE SPEECH OR NO FREE SPEECH – so SCREW YOU. Marylynn

  3. Always in love with Rafa, even though I disagree with him…. as he seems to see defeats as isolated events…
    It may take a while but he will be back to his best shape.
    It is still that final with Wawrinka that he might have not totally overcome yet, even though he thinks he has.
    Verdasco played great, though.
    Always in love with Rafa.

  4. Rafa you always say ” family is first”! But you can’t sacrifice your carrier only because you are not able to say stop to your unlce Toni. He can give you nothing else! A new coach can be a new beginning. Not Novak is playing so amazing, not Fernando today, but you play bad!! I am shocked about your analises after the lost matches! You can no more wait!!!!!

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