Madrid Open QFs: An interview with Rafael Nadal (May 6, 2016)

Rafael Nadal had to fight off an incredible comeback from Portugal’s Joao Sousa to book his place in the semi-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish, please.

Q. Recently in an interview you said your motivation is the same as always, but that now you enjoy when you train. Why is this?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think that also as years go by you learn to live things with a little bit less intensity, especially when things are working well.

I think that before during my training I was perhaps playing very, very intensely. That doesn’t mean that now I don’t train intensely. I think it’s just better for me.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Andy Murray. What do you think that he did for being a very good player on clay? Have you seen his evolution on clay? What do you think about him?
RAFAEL NADAL: That he didn’t have any title on clay was irrelevant. It was going to come with time.

I think that Murray had made it to the semifinals in Roland Garros against the best Djokovic in 2011. Also in Rome, he nearly had it, 5-3, 30-15, and he was serving to win the match.

But I don’t know. I think that he has done great results on clay. He also played the semifinals in Monte-Carlo a couple of years ago. As I have said before I think the fact that he didn’t have a title on clay was only a matter of time.

Many times whenever the British press was asking me about Murray, what was he missing to play well on clay, sincerely I think he wasn’t missing anything. Doesn’t make any sense to say that he’s not a specialist on clay. He’s a specialist on every court and he adapts perfectly to every kind of court.

Q. I wanted to know, what are your feelings towards tomorrow’s match compared to last year’s?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don’t know. This year is completely different to the previous years. I have different feelings. I don’t know what can happen tomorrow. Every day is a different day and a different match. 

Murray played really well today and has been during the whole week. It’s going to be a very tough match. I’ll try to give my best. I have to give my best if I want to have options, and that’s what I am going to do. I’m going to try.

I cannot think of last year. It was is completely different year. Of course I hope that I don’t repeat what happened last year. Everything is possible. Anything can happen.

I know that I’m playing against the second best player in the world and I think I have to give more. I have options, and it may be more complicated here than Monte-Carlo because of the altitude. That can favor Murray’s game more.

From there on we’ll see what I can do. I’ll try to be 100%. It’s a good opportunity for me to try to compete against one of the best players again.

Q. Are you worried because you might play tomorrow’s match with the roof closed, same as today?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, not really. The worst thing of today was not playing indoors, not closing the roof. The problem was that it was raining and the ball got wet. The clay was also wet and the balls, as I said, they were very heavy because they were wet.

In the third set we changed balls, and well, the feelings changed.

In the second set, apart from stopping for 20 minutes – that didn’t help either – the ball was heavy. It was raining. I wasn’t able to win the two break points that I had, and that’s all.

Q. Last year Sousa trained with you in Mallorca, and last week Raonic and Murray went to Mallorca to train with you. A lot of players have been there train with you. What is special there that attracts a lot of players to train with you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think also the fact of training together, I think it’s always something positive and very helpful. The climate normally over there suits us, helps us. I think that next month when I open the academy I’m going to have great facilities over there, and I’m very pleased that any kind of player can come and play. I think they’ll come even more than they do now.

I think that it’s something great. That’s going to happen quite often. For me, it’s just perfect. I like it to happen. Perfect for me. Suits me. I think it’s great news for Mallorca and for the people from Manacor. They come to see the training, and I think it’s great for them.

Last week when I was training with Murray and perhaps we had 200 people seeing us. I think it’s great for people that support or sport. They really like it.

Q. Talk about the match. What does it mean to you to make it to the semifinals in this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, today’s match, you know, I can make a pretty simple summary. I played pretty well in the first set. Perhaps he made a few errors, but also I think I played with very high intensity in the first set. I was hurting him with my balls and playing long and I was in control of the point most of the time.

Winning 6-0 a player like Joao in a quarterfinal here in Madrid, it just doesn’t happen. After that it started raining. The ball was a little bit heavier. I missed a few good opportunities to have opportunities that were good for me, and then we were 4-All. He broke me and won the second set.

After that I had to suffer. I had to fight back and look for a solution. I managed to find a solution and solve it.

Q. In the third set when you were 1-All you were serving and you were 15-30 and you threw a ball to the line. You think that that’s the turning point in the third set?
RAFAEL NADAL: And if the last ball had gone in it would be 4-2, serving for 5-2. In tennis you never know. And if, and if it happened. It’s better not to think about those things.

And if I hadn’t missed the ball I would’ve broken and it would be 4-2. If I miss that ball, I would be 15-40 and after that I will be 2-1 down and I can lose the match you never know what can happen.

And if Thiem had missed in the semifinals I would have made it to the finals, and perhaps in Buenos Aires too. And if I hadn’t lost in the past against Djokovic in Australia, well perhaps I would have another Grand Slam to my name.

You know, in sport, in tennis there can be a lot of perhaps and if this happens or that happens, but of course I’m happy because today I was able to win and do well.

After that I suffered less. As always, in a third set you always limit situations.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Andy said he was going watch some videos of your matches to prepare for your battle in the semis. Is this something you can also do through tournaments or if you don’t liked to do that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, today is easier. There is plenty of videos in Internet you can check. Nothing new. I think most of the players does.

At the same time, we know each other very well, no? It’s a question of play my best, and if I am play my best, I hope to have my chances. If not, will be almost impossible.

Q. Andy said today after beating Berdych that he’s improved his game on clay, he’s a more confident player on clay, and he had to do some things with his game specifically on clay because other people were taking advantage of those weaknesses. You practiced with him last week in Mallorca. Are you aware of how he’s improved his game?
RAFAEL NADAL: Andy is an unbelievable player, no? Everybody tries to improve. Everybody tries to be better.

For sure Andy is not an exception. Andy played already two tournaments — second tournament on clay and played the first one semifinals in Monte-Carlo winning good matches, being close to beat me in the semifinals.

Last year he won here, so he know how to play very well here. He’s playing well winning 6-3, 6-2 against a big player like Berdych. That’s a great level that he’s playing.

He’s a player that can win against everybody. I know going to be a very hard match for me, but I going to be fighting.

Q. How useful is it for you to have that time practicing with Andy in Mallorca so recently? Do you come up with ideas of how you might put pressure on him from watching him so closely in practice?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not because he came to Mallorca and practiced two days together we going to find and create ideas about our games. No.

We practice together a lot of times in our careers, and not — Mallorca don’t give my special advantage practicing with him. We know each other very well and we competed each against each other a lot of time. We practiced, too.

Will be a tough match. In these kind of matches the player who play better will be the player going to have the success.

We’ll see tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Video: ATP World Tour


  1. Great win over a fervent and talented opponent.
    Great to see an even more deternined reply!
    All the very best today Rafa!
    Vamos! Vamos! Vamos!

  2. it’s amazing to find a person who is so clear in his thoughts on everthing……………great man

    i find rafa everytime


  3. Rafa needs to fine tune his serve for more free points… He is almost back however i don’t see him ready to finish off Dejokavic who has fine tuned his whole game. If he could only speed things up and rush his Opponent Rafa would be winning very thing. Such a huge long time fan of Rafa and win or lose he will always be the king of clay and my favorite tennis player ever,,, love love love Rafa ! Vamos I will be watching every game and rooting for !!!

  4. So professional, so humble and choose always the right words! That’s my Rafa! Good luck and stay alert and be aggressive!

  5. ‘ I don’t see red grass, so I don’t like blue clay’ – now that’s classic! Love it:))

  6. ‘ I don’t see red grass, do I don’t like blue clay’ – now that’s classic! Love it:))

  7. Mr Rafa, never give up, no surrender & feel good is the right attitude to employ in semifinal and final stages. Andy Murray looking good in qf but believe me he will feel much pressure when play against you because of your reputation in this surface and head to head record. So make used of this situatian with playing good, passion and variation. The more you playing better tennis the more pressure Andy Murray will fell and he will started make an unforce error. Finally u can win against him as usual and make sure your serve better throughout the match. Good luck

  8. Just a few quotes from RAFA during his presser after defeating Sam Querry.

    ”I just try to be respectful with everyone, and I expect the same thing from other people. Apart from that, everyone is free to have their own opinion. If someone thinks that I need a coach change, it’s not being unfair. It’s just an opinion.
    Same as if someone thinks I don’t serve well. It’s just an opinion and we have to respect that. When they’re respectful.”

    ”The truth is that life is much better when you have good relationships with the most amount of people, and especially if they are your colleagues. I see them every single week so I get on very well with them.”

    ”I don’t see red grass, so I don’t like blue clay.”

    This is the guy we support, I am proud.

    RAFA fan forever.

    N.B I haven’t seen the Sousa match yet.

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