Indian Wells SF: An interview with Rafael Nadal (March 19, 2016)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I guess you obviously are disappointed about the loss, but the way you played for a set and a half, is it the best you have done for a while now?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I think I played well for a set and a half; then I think he played well the last. I played bad again with my serve on 3-2, and then he finished playing well the last two games. Played at high level.

I had my chances in the first set. I felt for a moment that I was competing at the highest level possible. At the beginning of the tiebreak and at the end of the first set with some Love-15 that I had, I made a few mistakes with my forehand. That’s the only thing.

I believe that with a little bit more of confidence with my forehand at the end of that first set will be a better chance.

Q. How much do you feel that all the matches you had won this week coming into this match helped your confidence, especially at the start of the match when you started very well?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, my confidence was good. When somebody’s playing well like I was playing, you go on court and you think that you can play well again, no?

So that’s important for me, be confident with myself on court. I did I think for a lot of moments. I think the game, you know, was very close. But the way that I was playing I think was a little bit more tactical, was a little bit more the way that I need to play against Novak than what happened the last couple of times that we played so quick and hitting so hard the ball. Probably he’s better than nobody in terms of rhythm.

Q. From the start of the year till now, how happy are you with your progress?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I think I played well during the week. I won very interesting matches, good ones, fighting. Today was closer than the last couple of times against the best player of world, so was a very positive week for me.

That’s the way. I gonna try to follow this way to keep going with this level. If I am able to play weeks in a row at this level, then you start to think about the chances to compete for everything.

Q. Is it hard not to get frustrated when you’re on a bit of a losing streak against somebody like Djokovic who is dominating? How do you stay positive every time you go into a match?
RAFAEL NADAL: So everybody frustrated?

Q. Yeah.
RAFAEL NADAL: (Laughter.) The life is not totally about one opponent. The life is not only about losing matches against one player. Was frustrating 2011. Is true that I was playing a lot of finals against him and I lost like six during the whole year because I was able to win against the rest of the players and not against him.

But for the last year and a half the story is different. So I was not competing all the time against him. I was competing against much more players and I was not ready, I think, to believe that I can compete at highest level against Novak.

In the last, I don’t know, six events that I played, maybe six, seven events, I was able to against him in Beijing, play against him in London, play against him in Doha, and now here. So if I play against him it’s because I am in semifinals and finals, so that’s very positive news.

Before that I was not able to play against him during almost the whole season. So the real thing is if I play against him, even if I lose, is great news.

Q. Would you mind giving us your thoughts about the finals and what Milos will have to do to see to beat him?
RAFAEL NADAL: With Milos is a different story. Milos have the serve. Novak is a great returner, has a great return, but when somebody serves like this and have two opportunities every time, first and second serve, if he serve well, Novak will not have the break.

So we gonna go to a tiebreak and we’ll see what’s going on. That’s the real thing. If Milos serve well, he can win against everybody.

Q. When you came up it was Roger who was kind of dominating. There was a moment when you dominated; now Novak is the dominant player. Can you compare like those kind of three eras when Roger is on top and you’re on top and now Novak is on top? Is there anything you can compare and contrast those eras?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Is different moments. Different moments on the career of everyone. I think Roger was very, very dominant for a couple of years. Then when I arrived I think he was still dominant, but he had somebody there. Then arrive Novak, too.

When I was dominant I have more than one, you know. Novak, I have Roger, I have Andy. And then during the moments that I was dominant I had some tough periods of time that I had chances to continue being dominant and I couldn’t. Like 2012 when I was playing great and I get injury. Like 2009 when I was playing great and I get the injury of my knees.

And in 2014 that I was playing well and I was No. 1 in the race, I break my wrist in the summer.

So after that, Novak already have been dominant before that. But after that always, he was more dominant. Novak was there all the time. Never had any injuries. So always he was waiting for his moment.

When finally arrived, his moment, he doesn’t let go. You know, without getting injury and having the level that he has it’s so difficult to stop him.

Q. You were talking about Novak working on his game. How do you think over the past period, past two years, his game has improved?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know, no? I think he’s an amazing player, and an amazing player with high level of confidence that makes so difficult to stop him, no?

When Roger was at his highest level and with highest level of confidence, too, was so difficult to stop him. I think for me was a little bit similar, no? When I was playing my best and I was at the highest level of confidence, I think I was dominant, too.

So for him now is what’s going on is he feel that is probably better than the rest. And at the same time, nothing bothers him, no? Not happened to me. The real thing is he’s very complete player because he’s able to play great on all of the surfaces, so just congrats to him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Video: BNP Paribas Open


  1. Vamos Rafa!

    I have been following you since you first arrived as a player and I predicted you would be a great champion even then.

    In tennis you gave me more entertainment and pleasure than anything else during my entire life. I am 78 years old now.

    But from the beginning I have also felt you were too humble and saying about other opponents that they were better than you. About Djokovic what you have in your mind that he is a greater player is just a ghost, it is not at all true.

    It is common sense during a war, on the battleground, never to say to your own people that you are inferior or will lose. So how can you say about Djokovic, in the open, that he is a better player than you, that you are afraid of him, that only when he is tired will you win? On the battleground you have to come to fight, you have to be ruthless to your opponents. And you most definitely are much better than him,. Better than Federer, better than Djokovic, better than Murray or anyone else.

    All good luck, wishing you all the very best. You are always, in all ways, superior. As a human being, as a player, in your manners. I love you and want for you all the best.

  2. very good interview and l know you will do well in miami,you are the best tennis player that tennis as ever had vamos rafa.glennis lsle of man

  3. i agree as i myself have said about toni – not talking about tennis coaching – but overall … i feel that more had/has to be done to instill confidence in rafa and make him believe in himself. one can read how he thins and feels in quite a few interviews. there is no need to say anything about who is better and who is not. just make rafa feel that he can win against anyone – that he is great and to believe in the player that he is. and yes toni has always made remarks where nole is concerned – that they are scared when rafa has to play against him etc. etc. there is maybe a fine line between being arrogant and believing that one can beat anyone. nole has built his confidence by doing affirmations etc. even his wife and probably other members of his family do those for him. this does not mean i am a nole fan – but one has to give the devil his due.

  4. Those who criticise are probably people who have achieved little and get their kicks from making arrogant comments and thinking that they know it all . It is not all about winning, wonderful to win as Rafael Nadal has done so many times but sport is not simple. Frankly I am bored with the same old mantra over and over again. Interestingly we only hear from about 4 of these nameless people when Rafael loses. Go get a life guys or join the Novak club , that is if you are not already part of it!!!

    • It is completely irrelevant whether a fan has achieved something or not. Again, you try to silence the opinions that you don’t like. Do you know how close you actually are with this horrendous attitude, to the worst of the worst? Freedom of speech is EXTREMELY important, deal with it, Mrs Howard.

      • That’s hilarious. The imbecile whips out a freedom of speech chastisement (like he’s all proud of it, as if he’s the only one who has ever heard of it) like he’s Alan f’ing Dershowitz. Sure, you’re exercising your freedom of speech just like a million other beastly, pathetic trolls on social media. We all get that There’s not a thing special about you. What does become tiresome is that you use your constitutional right to post the same boring crap every damn time.

      • No midgie the midget, that is not what is tiresome. What is tiresome – but you and your little sad friends are too politically correct to admit it – is that Nadal keeps running in circles. Only losers surrender and accept defeats. The division on this website is clear. Miomo, The Prophet, Kaiser Sosa, The Deep Thinker and good ol’ J Beer are part of the winning crew. Results always come first. You belong, together with Fan Love, crazy Mrs Howard and virgin Maria to the lovely losers team.

    • Elizabeth: That’s all you came up with?
      speaking about your boredness, I suggest you not to read the comments of what you call old mantra but you can’t decide for other fans on what to write or read. How gave the right to tell me and others to go away and join other players club?
      Follow your own advice and get a life.

  5. The fab four (not) strike again why do you only appear when Rafa loses and never or hardly ever when he wins . And the biggest joke is that you have the nerve to slate uncle Toni for putting Rafa down which is what you do on this site constantly

    • Maria: what’s exactly your problem? You’re covering your inability to conduct a civilized discussion By bullying and name calling. What was the last time Rafa won a master 1000 or 500?
      There are not just four of us and yes we are fab. thousands of fans share the same opinion about inadequacy of uncle Toni to rescue Rafa from this spiraling downward. You can’t make me silent, I am entitled to express my opinion as you are.

    • Another ugly troll. I’ve been on this forum and many others for many years, expressing opinion after wins and losses. I have however never gotten as low as you, giving compliments after defeats. Supporting a player does not mean you have to kiss his feet!

      • J Beer, it doesn’t mean you have to be indrediably cruel and “Mr. Wiseguy” either…

  6. After Rafa capped off a brilliant year by winning the 2013 US Open, who among us would have imagined his incredible downward spiral since then. I dare say that if J Beer, Deep Thinker, Sosa Laforge or myself had predicted it back then, his groupies, cheerleaders and sycophants would have hung us from the nearest tree.

    • MIROMO, No one says it better than you.

      You’re simply the greatest, the best analyst on this site.

      God bless you.

      • Thanks. You’re pretty good yourself. I love reading your stuff.

    • Maria: what’s exactly your problem? You’re covering your inability to conduct a civilized discussion By bullying and name calling. What was the last time Rafa won a master 1000 or 500?
      There are not just four of us and yes we are fab. thousands of fans share the same opinion about inadequacy of uncle Toni to rescue Rafa from this spiraling downward. You can’t make me silent, I am entitled to express my opinion as you are.

  7. For years Toni has been saying that Rafa is not as good as Novak and Roger. That Roger has a better forehand than Rafa. That Novak is a better athlete than Rafa. That Rafa can only beat them if they have a drop in form or an off day. What kind of coach says those things?

    Answer: A clueless coach. A figurehead coach. A placeholder coach. A coach in name only. A coach that no other player on Tour would hire even if he were the last coach on earth. A coach whom Rafa outgrew 20 years ago but refuses to replace due to a raging neophobia, misguided loyalty and pathological Peter Pan complex.

  8. Best of luck to you to win all the tournaments and grand slams. We want you to be topmost.

  9. A great return to form at Indian Wells; we hope it bodes well for the season.
    It was a pleasure to watch Rafael celebrate his victories and thoroughly be in the moment. He knows what is needed to win against any top player, and obviously
    has the desire to compete. Good luck and fight on!👑

    • What a great return to form. Almost losing to a teenager, getting another beatdown (1-10 since US Open 13) by the Djoker. Great, great, great!

  10. “Before that I was not able to play against him during almost the whole season. So the real thing is if I play against him, even if I lose, is great news.”

    With thinking like this, it is obvious that Rafa himself thinks getting to play with novak is victory. competing is victory. He does not believe he stands a chance to actually WIN. So i think it is best for us to reset expectations. Like folks here have said and been abused for saying so.. what a waste of talent. Rafa was at the doorstep of becoming THE ATG. He could have become the real GOAT. Novak is neither more skill full nor more physically gifted than Rafa. But he is smart and hard working in a smart way. Rafa is the real Bull, Bull headed that is. Novak adds to his game every season. The drop shot and lob combo he is showing off this season The same Novak who could not toss the ball consistantly is now serving smart (not bombs) and hardly gets broken (double faults.. aborts tosses etc). No use doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. Just saying i am trying to play aggressive and then standing 10 ft behind baseline to Novak’s second serve is not fooling anyone (maybe it fools folks like Fanlove here). Winning 14 slams is an awesome achievement, but true fans who know the game will know that even though Rafa at 29 is not the same as another player at 29 because of his playing style, Rafa is physically superior to most of them at the top (maybe Murray can match him in physical strength) and is more talented (racket control) than anyone (bar fed maybe… debatable).. yet what has he added to his game in the decade we have seen him play (serve improved since the time he came on tour… but that was a low bar anyway).. That is not a critique on him but is directed at his coaching team. Now it looks like it is probably Rafa who does not want to really add things and is happy with just getting to play Novak. What a waste of talent. Very sad :(. VAMOS nonetheless!!

    • serve out: absolutely right. I’m sure Rafa knows by slipping through the ranking, he may face Djoker in the 3rd and fourth round. There’s nothing glorious about facing Novak and losing to him. He’s turned into a complete submissive person and feel inferior to Djoker. don’t his team see these warning signs? How do you anyone expect him to defeat djoker with this submissive mentality?

      • I don’t think Djoker won – Cautios Rafa lost it. In the beginning, confident hard hitting Rafa was pushing Djoker around. But after a bad shot cost him the first set Rafa – as could be seen in his body language, esp his face – lost confidence and played cautiously not to win but not to lose. When doing so he participated in long rallies eventually droping short balls that Djoker teed of on. Rafa , unlike the first set , just stood there and watched balls fly by. Another thing that hurts Rafa is his predictability – side to side all the time – Djoker knew exactly where to go. On one occasion, Rafa hit behind and Djoker was so surprised that he slipped and nearly turned an ankle. Message: Rafa needs to play with more confidence and aggressiveness and less predictability.

  11. Hope confidence n luck is with you in Miami Rafa. Congrats on Indian Wells. Will be praying for you. God bless you. Vamos Rafa. Love your Aussie Abuela. 😀😊😇

  12. the pattern i see from nole against rafa is attcak his 1 st game break him create pressure winning 1 set and with momentum try to sail the next sets…..of course the the shot selection pattern from novak is evident with a added drop shot now and then lob….

    whats happening with novak is not shocking when u go on to win so much and have good memories of previous matches against a specific opponent with known pattern for winning it always help in creating the momentum to win the big matches

    so next time u play rafa remember just think of 1 set match ur playing and try to win the first set with proper strategy on shot selection ……..let win the 1 st set and the creat momentum to ur side and see what happens …………

    remember rafa u need to hurt novak on big occasion

    and please create more sharp angles on cross court backhands

    vamos rafa vamos

    always a treat to watch u ……………..u r so amazing player

  13. And we say all things but one thing to notice here we are still palying on hard courts and novak is loves this surface ….rafa was losing sometimes to novak in hard courts when he was palying well …..but bad thing for novak is rafa is now so good on hard courts its already a warning sign for novak

  14. As rafa said already all this times he facing with mental and confidence issues and he was failing against less ranked opponent so obvious u cant think of novak game and work him out

    As i notice its plain and simple it all about momentum ……..get the first set and rafa will come with goods ….rafa just need to play like a one set match……..

    I am sure we will sooner going to see novak losing to rafa

  15. its sad!!!! i adore rafa but still, as i said before, agree a bit with deep thinker. at the same time i feel i want to cut rafa some slack since he has been and is probably still, going through a tough time. he did play better in this tournament but it is also true that he was lucky against zverev. but luck is part of the game and djokovic is also often extremely lucky and more so at this time in history when he doesnt really have an opponent who is in top form to give him a good fight and win. im not denying that he is playing very well but his tennis is not that great that he cant be beaten. perhaps his preparations – mental and physical are better than anyone on the tour and that certainly plays a big on the one hand he shouldve won against djokovic – he has been playing against him long enough to try to find out how to tackle him but often in the past his uncle and he have almost admitted that he cant beat djokovic and that is real real bad for rafa’s confidence. my only hope is that rafa gets better and better and doesnt fall back to his nervous, insecure past.


    • Agree with everything that Rafa Fan said but I don’t see Rafa’s win against Zverev caused by luck. You can say the same about the 1st set that Zverev won. Uncle Toni has said many times especially during that period of 7 losses vs Djokovic that Rafa is not able to defeat Djokovic.What coach says that? Rafa should have fired Toni immediately but unfortunately he didn’t and pays for unprofessional loyalty to his uncle.

      • Rafa did not win against Zverev bcoz of luck. Zverev choked. If Zverev had hit the net cord and the ball fell on his side of the net.. yes he was unlucky. Zverev dumped the ball in the lower half of the net. Besides if you notice Rafa had not given up. Rafa was actually scurrying to his BH side to get the volley. Any person who has played the game will know Zverev was actually concerned that Rafa would get his volley and was force to rush the volley and dump it 🙂 That was pressure created by Rafa so FULL credit to Rafa for that win.

  16. Probably I will be seen again as the party pooper, but the fan crowd here did exactly what one shouldn’t do after a defeat: they celebrate the loss, giving compliments on hanging with the champ for a set and a half. That’s behaviour no champion is served with. Rafa should have won this tournament, case closed. Blinded fans may celebrate this loss. I am with this author, Rafa’s among the losers of IW 2016:

    • Exactly. Court and playing conditions were perfect for Rafa. Novak delivered one of his worst performances in years. And yet all our favorite player could do was keep it close for one set before getting blown off the court in the 2nd. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    • Who’s giving you the right telling what’s right or wrong, J Beer?
      And Rafa’s served with your behavior? NO way. Show some respect…

      VAMOS Rafa 🎾💪

  17. Good luck Rafa for Miami. i enjoyed watching you in Indian Wells. May our Almighty God bless you always

    • And BTW, he’s also right on the money about Muguruza and Bouchard. Not to mention a few other up and comers on the WTA.





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