Madrid Open: An interview with Rafael Nadal (May 3, 2016)

Tennis - Madrid Open - Rafael Nadal of Spain v Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia - Madrid, Spain - 3/5/16 Drops of sweat fall from Nadal's face. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Tennis – Madrid Open – Rafael Nadal of Spain v Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia – Madrid, Spain – 3/5/16 Drops of sweat fall from Nadal’s face. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Transcript of Rafael Nadal’s presser after the Kuznetsov match.

Q. Today was it too hot out there? Do you think the heat is better for you than for him?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, today it was very hot, yes, compared to previous years. The day was a little bit drier; a little bit hotter; the ball was flying faster.

Of course here with the altitude, you know, the previous days we could see how the ball was going very fast. Today was a little bit more difficult to control, but the conditions were just perfect to play out there.

The temperature was just fine.

Q. I want to ask you about your serve. I think you had 80% of first serves. Your service much better. Do you feel that way?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, well, I served well in Monte-Carlo and in Barcelona. Here, as I said before, the altitude, perhaps it helps you a little bit so that your serve is a little bit more effective.

The serve is — depending on which tournament it’s not so decisive, but in this tournament it is. Whoever serves well here is going to do well. I think I have been solid with my serve. I obtained a lot of results. I have to try to keep the percentage up. During the previous training sessions I also served well. This is important to have options to do good. I’m happy and delighted and hope I’ll be able to continue.

Q. After Thiem and Goffin losing and Federer pulling out, do you think you have more opportunities?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no. If those players are not here it means other players are better prepared. This is what is happening very often. For the moment, I’m here in the third round, which is the most important thing for me.

I’ll just follow my path and I know that Pouille in the next round comes from playing really well in the final in Bucharest. Querrey is a player that plays very well and the altitude suits him a lot.

They’re both very tough players, so this is what I worry about. I don’t worry about anything else right now. 

Q. Before they were talking about how hot it was in the central court. Did you feel the heat of the people, the audience?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, always, you know, here in Madrid — I don’t have to repeat every single time I come here. Of course it’s clear that whenever I play in Spain, but especially here in Madrid, the people support me.

I feel how much they support me, and it helps me to play better and win matches. Gives you extra energy, no doubt about that. It’s one of the crowds that helps the local player to win matches. In this tournament I’ve been able to win matches thanks to this great crowd we have.

Q. You say that you wanted to make your anti-doping public. You think this is okay?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me I think it’s necessary to make public the anti-doping. It’s enough to gamble or whatever. I think everything should be transparent. That’s the thing.

Whenever there has been people talking samples being destroyed, I think for Spanish sport that’s terrible news. Everything should be transparent, and the people that do wrong things should pay for it and people that do the things right should be better off. They should have a clean image.

I think this is very necessary. There has to be complete transparency in sport. When things are not done the right way, they should be public. If not, we’re going to be speculating about unnecessary things, which is going to damage the image of the sport and sportsmen.

As I said many times, the sport doesn’t only have to be clean, but it has to seem clean, to look clean. I think that transparency has to be total. We need total transparency. That’s all. I don’t understand things another way. That’s just my personal opinion. That doesn’t mean under any circumstances that I don’t trust the system that we have right now. I think we have a good independent system on our tour.

So the players that are competing, I completely believe they are clean. In the end, it’s true that it’s good that the people also don’t have any doubts.

Q. Toni Nadal said today that nobody wants to face Djokovic. Would you like to measure your forces against him before heading to Roland Garros to see where you level?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I would like to win as many matches as possible. I’m not the kind of person that comes here to say lies. I think I’m very honest with what I say here in front of you.

Of course if Djokovic makes it to the final and I am in the final too, well, great news. That means I made it to the final. If I make it to the final, of course I prefer to play someone else rather than Djokovic.

You know, I want to have as much points as possible and have as many options as possible to win the tournament. If you play the best player in the world, the options are less. That’s all.

After that, if I have to play against him, I will be delighted and that will be great news, because that will mean that I am playing the final. I will try to give my best, as I did in Indian Wells and as I do in every single match I play against him. Sometimes things work out better and sometimes they don’t.

As I said the other day, Djokovic these last days hasn’t been my problem. I have had other problems and other players, too. I wish my problem was Djokovic.

Q. What does it mean to you to be a role model for so many people that look up to you and believe in you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, sincerely I don’t think about those things. I think that when you think of yourself as a leader you’re not going to be natural anymore. You can be arrogant. I try to do things as good as I can. And if being me and doing the things which I think are correct and not what others think I should do.

If after that I am a good person to follow, I am delighted about it. If not, well, just people don’t follow me. That’s the way it is. I think that you cannot live thinking that I am the someone to follow or not to follow. You know that you are in front of the media, cameras, that you’re a public figure.

You know that there is a lot of kids that are looking up to you. I think we have to behave properly, because they are the next generation. After that you behave properly first because of your personal satisfaction, and secondly because of the little kids that follow us.

Q. Talking about your club in Mallorca, it’s a way to reinvest what you win in kids? Do you think that the media supports this or frivolizes it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the club and the foundation, academy and the foundation, are completely different things. The foundation has just opened a kids’ center in Mallorca at the end of last year I think it was.

Well, for us, it’s our first personal center constructed by the foundation. Previous to that we supported other projects that do things, too, which means the kids that don’t have the money can go in the afternoon to the center to study, play, train, sport, have a snack, and be in a good atmosphere so that they can be happy. Just try to raise them and give them the opportunities towards the future.

That’s what we do in our foundation. The first personal center was in Mallorca. Hopefully we will be able to continue growing. That’s what we have been doing in the last few years. We’ve been doing it progressively, slowly, but trying to do things right and reach as many kids as possible.

In the academy, well, it’s just something different. It’s a joy that I have since a lot of years. I’m conscious that I have lived and I have what I have thanks to this sport.

The academy, it’s going to be in a month when it’s finished, and being in Mallorca, for me it’s great. I’m delighted about it. Hopefully the kids will take advantage of it. Not only locals, but international people. Hopefully it will be a world reference not only in tennis, but in Europe and also in the world.

Hopefully Mallorca, Manacor will benefit from it. For me, economically it was easier to do things somewhere else perhaps because the economical conditions were better. But I prefer to do it at home, even though I had to invest my own money. It’s great personal satisfaction for me, and I’m very happy about it.

Q. (In English.) You play more on the clay in Europe than many of the other top players in the world. Do you still feel as if you have plenty of energy, and is it a case of the more matches you play the better you become?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, normally, yes. It’s obvious that in the past — and if with take a look at my career, when I have been able to play matches in a row and compete well weeks in a row, then I feel myself stronger and I feel myself better, no?

Happy the way that I started for sure the clay court season. Today is another victory, so that’s a great news. I’m excited about this tournament. That’s it. Next match on Thursday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. I was referring to the Rafael Nadal Foundation which is a charity. His Academy also has a scholarship system for those unable to pay. Rafa received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2011 for his charitable works but I don’t remember much being made of it in the media.

  2. Enhorabuena Rafa, siga. Lastima para Fernando pero espero que va a verlo , visitar su nuevo piso en Madrid. Esta cerca al Estadio San Bernadeu donde esta ayer para el futbol. Hemos visto las fotos en Hola! Ana nos ha mostrado. La exhibicion para la nueva Academia en la Caja Magica esta guay, con las grandes pelotas! Fiona en Paris

  3. Margo – since you have started using this site, your comments towards others have been a little harsh. Chill. A Rafa fan since 2005

  4. I am not asking for FREE publicity, RAFA is a current player on the tour. I have heard commies mentioned many personal things about the other ‘big 4’ in passing, pressers etc.

    Who just got married, how many languages they speak, charity work etc. I am not saying that they have to; BUT It’s not mentioned as if it doesn’t exist, the Spanish media definitely.

    It is true RAFA would have his own PR firm to do such things but just saying in the grand scheme of the TENNIS world. It is something huge.

    I stand by what I said, we may have to agree to disagree. Respect always to my fellow RAFA fans.

    RAFA fan forever.

    • The reason Rafa’s academy is much overlooked [your assessment] could be because it’s a “for profit” establishment. That’s why I mentioned the “marketing personnel.” Perhaps my explanation was not so sound.
      I was more surprised by the sentence in which you mentioned Andy, Nole, and Roger. I don’t know what Roger has done, but both Andy and Nole have done great charitable work and also promoted the sport of tennis [according to the media].
      According to reports, Rafa’s academy was built with the “help” of large corporations. Rafa’s academy was not totally financed by Rafa which could also be a reason why the media hasn’t covered it as extensively as some fans feel they should have.

      I could be wrong but your comment sounded as if you were blaming the other three of the Big Four for the media’s neglect of the academy.

      If I am wrong, feel free to correct me. No disrespect was meant. I am still learning.

  5. It’s nice to hear him being asked about his academy. This is a major accomplishment of a current player and it is not getting the publicity I thought it would have. The commies don’t even mention it really, except when Andy was there a few days ago. I guess if it were Nole, Andy of Roger they would have been asked about it continuously since inception.

    That being said RAFA is loved regardless of news coverage.

    RAFA fan forever.

    I wish I had a kid I could enroll there. Ha Ha.

    • I agree with you Gen. What an achievement for such a young man! He has a heart of gold. The media are far more interested in getting shots of his bottom and doping stories. I’m afraid that’s the stuff that sells.

    • I don’t agree. I have known for some time about his academy mentioned through interviews or different charitable events.
      While the Big Four are philanthropists, contributing mainly to children’s organizations, Rafa is the only one to have built an academy. On many occasions I have heard mention of his academy. What you are suggesting is free publicity the way I see it.
      Needless to say the Big Four’s philanthropic work is mentioned more often than an academy. Nadal can afford his own marketing personnel for the academy. It is not a charitable organization. Philanthropy is a horse of a different color.
      So rethink your comment about Murray, Federer and Nole. It was unjustified.


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