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

49 comments

  1. Retire. You’re going bald anyway. His game has become laughable. They tee off on his diminished forehand, serve sucks, short returns…..ALWAYS, and top spin blows. Its over! The Rafa you knew is gone, never to return. Great Champion, but the end is here. Will not make 2nd week of any major and will never win another Masters1000.

  2. Unfortunately, Rafa is going way of Tiger Woods. He is a 29 yr old in a 35 yr old body. He has diminished power and a short return. He set the bar too high. No where to go but down. Im afraid we have seen the last of his greatness. No more major titles for Rafa.

  3. Dear Rafa Fans: Everyone is disappointed and sad that Rafa lost in the first round. We all express these feelings in our own way. Disappointment and sadness rears its ugly head in many ways. Many get angry at Rafa when he loses (as often as he has been); many show sympathy; and many express sadness, encouragement, advice and hope. But the bottom line is the same for all Rafael Nadal fans – we simply love him and want him to be the best and want him to win many more majors. If he wasn’t our favorite person and tennis player we simply would not even care. We are all just hurt and sad. Marylynn.

  4. VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) Precious interview photos ….. what a sincere face you have!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) & BEAUTIFUL EYES filled with depth & warmth!!!!!! Your thoughts are RIGHT ON sweetheart !!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) VAMOS………………..VAMOS………………VAMOS………………!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) Enjoy your day & have lots of fun !!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) God bless you & VAMOS to YOU & your TEAM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : )

  5. As a Rafa fan To the core …it really is time for change everyone reads your game…your shots are too short …you are working hard but whatever your doing ISNT working…please Rafa get some additional coaching …don’t let your career slip away …i know there’s much more in you…it’s not being disloyal its your career….Uncle Tony must see this as well..as a fan this is hard to take…all the other top players realise the need for change..common Rafa

  6. I doubt if Rafa reads our comments. I just want him to know that I am grateful to have been able to watch him from the beginning. Not since Bjorn Borg had I been so enthralled by a tennis player. He gave his all during each game, match and tournament. I love to watch Rafa play tennis. No one is as exciting to watch as Rafa in my opinion. I hope he can win more slams but, if not, I am so grateful that I had the privilege of watching him up close and personal. I will forever be grateful that I lived during his era of magnificent tennis. Be proud, stay hopeful, and remember Rafa that you are so much more than a star tennis player. You are really loved and respected! That is worth more than gold or being number one!

  7. 2 things : Or Rafa is blind or he don’t want to see.
    His analysis of the match is to say Nando was playing amazing ? Common Rafa

    Your game is always the same and each guy on tour knows it. You are not winning anymore because you become slow with less power.

    Change your staff and find someone who can help you. Tony is has been unfortunately

  8. in sports you don’t need to be saint rafa …….
    u have to compliment other player just for the fact u have to
    and to be angry with urself of ur play and then making no dela about it and assure u will find a way to win next grandslams
    we wnat to see a hunger in ur eyes

    IF U CANT DO IT GET A SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST

    BEWARE FANS ANY THING CAN HAPPEN IN NEXT FEW DAYS

  9. Força, Fé e Foco Rafa” , vitórias, derrotas, acontecem em nossas vidas, desisitir jamais, força Campeão, Sempre “RAFA”!

  10. actually rafa play become predictable that know days opponent knows inside out his direction of shots and with less power on shots rafa cant escape

    rafa needs to bring unpredictability in his game

    • l & many of his fans said umpteen times that his game plan/playing style is so predictable. Rafa needs to change but he’s too stubborn to change and played the same old game & style. He also said so in the interview. He’s a man of habits so he finds it difficult or unwilling to change and keep to his old ways.
      His uncle Toni is also a problem. Too proud to admit that he is no longer capable of coaching running out of ideas & can’t or won’t keep up with changes. He’s still of the old school. Well if both of them don’t wake up to this reality then l’m afraid Rafa may be worse of than 2015. Wake up Rafa & team, pull up your socks and go, go,go. Think they want to be the exception not using/hiring an assistant coach and hope to remain at the top or as l said too proud to change or don’t want to change.

  11. I have always been told to respect my elders but for you JBeer I will make an exception you have to earn respect something you were obviously not taught.Rafa at his young age shows more respect than you ever have that is why he is loved the world over. I cannot believe a man of your age can act like a child take some advice from Mac or take a nap

    • The TRUTH is always a bitter pill to swallow, Dear Maria.

      Unlike you, J. Beer speaks the truth and only the cold, hard truth can bring our champion back to life.

  12. if u r going into the match and thinking of winning the match with opponet unforced error or bad play is not we use to see rafa going into the matches earlier

    watched little bit of match ….have to say rafa played so average …i mean rafa played good than this match in US open 2015….
    dont know why but the the energy is absolutely gone on shots not consistent on hitting the area beyond service box
    somehow rafa needs get back that power back in his hands he use to have

    rafa urgently needs master titles under his belt he is suffering from confidence issue going into big tournament matches

    for me rafa played average what he was playing from 4 to 5 months and thats why he lost

    i am in tears now

    please rafa be angry with urself , dont let this match dent ur confidence further

    get the power back

    i have decided to not comment here after on this site untill rafa wins the grandslam

  13. Dear Rafa: This too shall pass. Very soon all will fall into place for you. All of your practice efforts and what you are trying to do differently to improve yourself — your game will all come together for you. I promise you!! So keep your positive attitude. You are and always will be a champ and I know in your heart that you know it too. Please remain healthy and get some needed rest. God bless you. Love, Marylynn

      • Duude! Do you hang around just to spew your negativity on those looking at the brighter side of things? Take a break bro, the glass being half full for you all the time must be a very depressing life. Some of us see Rafa suffer, and we choose to hope that he will get better. If he doesn’t, too bad- life goes on- there’s always Youtube and all the wonderful memories over the years.

        But we will hope. It takes nothing away from us. So please keep your negativity to yourself, okay?

      • Nope Mr Mac, it is called freedom of speech and you can keep your nonsense to yourself. An old guy like me shall not be shut down by a Duuuuude like you.

      • MAC,
        AND WHAT HAVE YOUR “SWEETY WORDS AND YOUR POSITIVE AND BRIGHT SIDE” DONE SO FAR, NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It has been a year and half now, and guess what: “NO GOOD TITLE AT ALL”, that’s the ugly truth and let’s face it.
        I don’t know that the hell is his problem, but the solution for me is to stop watching tennis, and that’s the temporary wise decision for now. And if he were going to stay like that :”PLEASE RETIRE”, and keep your history clean.

  14. What the hell is happening? I can’t believe that, what the hell is wrong with you man? I’ve been waiting you so long to have a good tournament, and now, you’re out from the first match.
    All what you said in the press conference has no difference AT ALL from the others. I wish someone could give me an explanation. Don’t you realize that djokovic’s number in the grand slam is so close from yours, do you need someone else to remember you?Don’t you look at us as your fans who are SO TIERED FROM ONLY WAITING?
    I don’t wanna hear another: “Can’t wait to start this tournament” “I’m in practice session” claims, I’m BORED with it. I miss the glorious moments, when you bide the trophy in your teeth. All uncle tony has been good at is : “we are gonna have a great season in 2016, he could win AO, RG,…”. Speaking of wich, I’m strongly worried about Roland Garros this year as well.
    I’m so disappointed, I’m so sorry, but I find myself forced to change the tone of “Vamosing”.
    Yes we are allways with you, but you need to keep being a TRUE CHAMPION IN OUR EYES.
    I know it’s a harsh comment, BUT YOU TRULLY DESERVE IT, or at least, HEAR OR READ IT.

    From a true lover fan of RAFAEL NADAL.

    • Yes, that’s the spirit. Always the same consoling words from the Fan Loves and other blank personae here, that’s not gonna cut it. It’s time for action. Quit or so something, but don’t fade away like you have been for 2 years now!

      • I wish if he could read the comments, I wish if I could tell him what I’m feeling so that he could see how angry I am. I’m angry, sad, very sad..I’m lost and so upset.
        GET BACK, and be as the rafa we knew once.
        WE GAVE YOU SO MUCH TIME, NO MORE EXCUSES.

      • Hear, hear, I am finding more and more moral support. It’s never too late for a senior like me to be understood.

      • Exactly, a complete mess!
        Nick Kyrgios would have taken Nadal out in straights!

        So sad. And he’s not prepared to get down from his high horse to make the necessary changes.

        THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

  15. Rafael, I am as sad as you are, but this is just the beginning of the Tennis Year. I was staying on in Melbourne to attend theTennis onSaturday, hoping I may see you play, or practising, or bump into you, but I am now returning home to Perth. I am 80 years old n feel this may have been my last chance to see you! There was something on TV a couple of days ago that you appeared to be in pain whilst practising. Is this true, n do you have an injury? Take heart, that you did so well in your last 2 tournaments in the Middle East. Take care Rafa. God Bless You. Love your Aussie Abuela. xxx😀😊😇🎈🎈🎈

    • Shirley, I am 75 years old myself and I am sure we will both be there still next year. I am not sure Rafa will be there though. As I tried to tell multiple times to the rude Mrs Howard: Rafa has a permanent foot injury, that occurred for the first time 12 years ago. He missed RG 04 because of that (he would, at almost 18 years old) have been a favourite to win it even back then (he had already beaten Roger Federer on hard courts). But there are many young, impolite creatures on this webpage, who offend others (acting suprising when an old guy like me jabs back at them) but hardly know anything about Nadal.

      • You’re younger than J Beer me but it doesn’t mean a thing. Stop playing the age card and quit repeating yourself. No one is listening anymore

  16. I watched the match and, like Rafa and all his fans was disappointed that he didn’t win, I could cry but won’t. Better luck for the rest of the year and your next match in Rio, as you say Verdasco played the better match today, end of story

  17. SALUT C’EST GRAVE , J’ESPERE JUSTE QUE VERDASCO VA ALLEZ LOINT DANS LE TOURNOI MAINTENANT ET POUR TOI TU AS LE TEMPS DE POUR TE PREPARER TRANQUILLE POUR LES AUTRES TOURNOI MAIS NE T’INQUETE PAS TU AS FAIT UN TRES TRES BON MATCH …… VAMOS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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