Rome Masters QF: An interview with Rafael Nadal (May 13, 2016)

Tennis - Italy Open Men's Singles Quarterfinal match - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Rafael Nadal of Spain - Rome, Italy - 13/5/16. Nadal waves at the end of the match. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Tennis – Italy Open Men’s Singles Quarterfinal match – Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Rafael Nadal of Spain – Rome, Italy – 13/5/16. Nadal waves at the end of the match. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you think it’s best performance against Djokovic since the last final at Roland Garros? Is the first question. The second is if you think it’s better for you to play against Djokovic on the best-of-five sets than on the best-of-three sets.
RAFAEL NADAL: I am playing well. No, no. I have been, I think, a beautiful match, a little bit unlucky for me today, so many chances in the first set. Obviously with that 4-2, Love-30, and then 15-30, good point for me, good forehand that was a winner and was out for just a little bit. We don’t need to talk about I think in the second, no?

So happy in a very close match, and I have to congratulate him. He played, I think, great. And that’s it. He’s winning a lot, so probably that makes a difference.

No, when somebody is winning as much as he is doing last year and months, two years, we know the dynamics are so important. He was hitting great shots in important moments, no? That’s it.

But I am playing well. I think I am playing well during the whole clay court season. It’s true that in Madrid I didn’t play well the last two matches against Joao and especially the last two sets against Joao Sousa in quarterfinals, and semifinals against Andy I didn’t play very well.

But in general I’m playing well in the most of the matches most of the time. And today I was there mentally fighting for every point, hitting good shots. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s better for me best-of-five or best-of-three. Is something that I don’t think about it now. The only thing that I think is I have been very, very, very close this afternoon, and that’s positive.

Q. After a match like this, what is the lasting feeling? Comfort of knowing how high a level you’ve played today or disappointment of the loss?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. I came late here not because I was disappointed. I came late because I was in doping and just for like this (indicating small space between index finger and thumb) I didn’t came before, maybe a little bit.

No, I was not disappointed. Well, it’s obvious that when you feel that you are so close to take both sets, you know, it’s obvious that you go out of the court and you feel that you cannot be 100% happy.

But overall I am playing well. As I said before, I have been competing at the highest level against the best player. Play a match like this, best player of the world, that’s the only thing that give me the confidence that I am ready for the things.

Q. Obviously your head to head with Novak is much more even than the head to head you have with Roger, but can you see a similarity between this rivalry and the rivalry you had with Roger, which went through phases when you won a lot even if matches were really, really close?
RAFAEL NADAL: I answered that question so many times. You know, let’s talk about all of this — I’m tired about asking these kind of questions. The only answer for me now is I feel happy to be part of both rivalries.

You know, have been both special ones and that’s it. And we’re gonna talk about that when we finish our careers. Hopefully not very soon (laughter).

And that’s it. No, no, I feel lucky and unlucky at the same time to be at the same moment than those great players.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. Sorry no but I don’t know if you have Eurosp 2 on your TV but at 5pm UK time it has day one of qualifications for the 2016 FO whatever that is

    • Hi Maria. Thought you were gone until RG. Just read your post re “qualifications” and thought I’d give it a shot. Anyone who could add to this is most welcome .
      As I understand it, the “qualifying” (a/k/a qualifications) is a pre-tournament usually played the week before a major. Twelve winners from this pre-tournament will be qualified to play in the tournament.
      For a slam or Masters there is usually a 128 players draw which is made up from:
      The first 110 are based on rankings at time of tourney entry deadline
      5-6 Wildcards
      1- protected rankings
      12 from the qualifications
      1-2 lucky losers.
      Who ever said tennis was simple? LOL

      I don’t know if the above applies also to the ITF. Different organizations, different rules, perhaps.

    • I am guessing that it will be this Friday. That is usually the pattern before tournaments.

  2. I thought that Rafael played very well v Djokovic, small margins made the difference as they always do at that level. I feel confident about Roland Garros and know that he is is a good place both with his tennis and confidence. Rafael Nadal is the essence of grace. Watched the final and while I acknowledge the tennis skills of Djokovic I am more convinced than ever of his horrible behaviour. This guy has no class and frankly he looked as if he had lost control. Well done Andy, nice birthday gift to yourself.

  3. I will say though Novak does have a lovely thick mop of hair ( you you think that’s hiding his horns)

  4. That’s good Chantelle, re-watching the second set again now and enjoying every moment

  5. A lot of what I comment on Novak is said in jest, that said I do dislike him but that has nothing to do with Rafa. If Nadal retired tomorrow I would still not support Novak. His game is brilliant his personality is not. As people have commented ,he is very aggrogant and the more he wins the bigger the ego gets , and his attitude to the ballboys is disgraceful when he is in a mood.Even when he is being nice it doesn’t come across as genuine.As I have said before he loves the limelight ,and having a celebrity lifestyle UN like Rafa and Andy and many others who are just purely tennis players. He won’t be happy until he is adored the world over and can’t understand why he’s not (maybe Rafa could give him a few pointers on that one) . And when the racket went in the crowd did he apologie No(commentator Mark Petchey are you getting paid for being up Novak’s arse, or do you need glasses, he had a tantrum and bounced his racket on the floor ,he did not as you said spin it in the air and it slipped out of his hands. Anyway needless to say I recorded yesterday’s game and when I need cheering up will watch with enjoyment Novak’s melt down SORRY

  6. Bpmn… I agree with you … People will lose interest in tennis if Dejokavic keeps wining 6-1 6-2 … Who wants to watch or pay to see that !! Margo,being an aminal lover and having respect for animals may not make you a great tennis player but it is a good Attribute in ones Character…it shows that you have Compassion and love in your heart,,, i did not hear Novak drop the F bomb but don’t doubt it… I have heard Roger & Andy drop it as well! Also who can forget johnny Mac’s potty mouth and meltdowns, he totally went Ballistic . Novak does seem to be getting a bit cocky… perhaps he needs Rafa to Knock him down a few pegs!! PS.Margo i don’t hate you like that other person said … Actually love your passion for Rafa, you are a loyal fan ! I’m new at this and I’m enjoying Conversing with true Rafa fans …however I know I make a lot of mistakes! Rafa does Rock !! I just Adore him !!!

  7. Margo – it was awful. When the rain came down, the drama queen novak yelled at the umpire ‘it’s too f’ing dangerous to play’. Commentors apologised. He then lost the point and bent over on the service line and screamed in serbian. They werent sure if he was swearing so apologised in case he was. Conduct befitting of our no 1. Then he won the next point and suddenly he stopped complaining. I detest the guy!

    • Yeah but Novak “loves the animal…”.
      For me, Novak is just a fake. He is only funny when dominating his opponent. Novak is the most arrogant player i have ever seen. Roger really respects Rafa. But Novak never does the same.
      He smashed racquet even he is winning against Rafa but after a close set. That means he thought that he would win easily over Rafa.

      I would like to see one day Rafa beat that fake in a final of a grandslam tournament but that ‘s unlilkely gonna happen under Toni’s coaching. Well, may be Andy will do the job.

  8. Do not hate Margo … Also don’t know whats so awful about 86… It’s just a kinder why to say get rid of someone or something ,,..get a clue. I also was not responding to your views ,,, there is no other person in this world who is a bigger Rafa fan than I’am!! I have been an ardent Rafa fan for years…sorry you twisted my opinion as a negative response… Impressed with Va4favre seems Articulate and knowable…no negativity!

  9. I am a huge Rafa fan,but I don’t hate Djokovich. I am tired of him winning everything of course, but he deserves to be #1 now….no real competition for long time. He capitalizes on that.But Federer capitalized on weak era too before Rafa came.So it’s not Djokovich fault.
    I will be so happy if Rafa win his 10th RG! And I hope so! But first Rafa should believe that he can beat everyone including Djokovich and play agressive and with self believe on important points,be able to close sets ,improve his serve and win.Everything is in his hands and more importantly in his brain!
    And uncle Tony can’t help him with that. I still believe he need fresh ideas,”new brain”& psychologist added to his team if he doesn’t want to waste more years waiting for….different outcome without changing anything.He plays better and that’s wonderful, but that’s only it’s not enough to beat Novak. If he go to the match and thinking ” He is almost unbeatable, but I will try my best”…well,he will not beat him even if he is the better player(and he is!).He will beat him when he has only one short sentence in his mind” I will beat Novak today!Let’s go!Vamos!”

  10. Rafa_86 – thats not the kind of comment or language we need on this site. Why you hating on margo? Lets just all enjoy a healthy debate. Please?

  11. If Rafa studies his opponents moves to notice their weaknesses he will do a lot better. He is still the best no matter what.

  12. You are right… Novak does have his tantrums; that’s what is so unique about Rafa… I have been watching him from day one and I never remember him breaking a racket or being a poor sport. However he does get a lot of time violations, which I think is ridiculous.. Everyone complains about him taking too much time. I don’t think Novak has ever gone “Baghdatis or Dimitrov,” however he does lose control!. I’m not sure where he moved to but I know he will never forget about Serbia. I think uncle Toni has kept Rafa grounded …maybe too much!! Va4favre what is your opinion of Rafa adding another coach to his team; not getting rid of Uncle Tony, but just getting a fresh new voice to work out his problems that he has been experiencing.

    • Novak is the same poor sportsman as he always has been. To compare him with Baghdatis or Dmitrov does not ameliorate or exonerate his bad behavior. He is the world number one and as such has failed to be a good example to all his young fans.

      You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.


    • I was reading today about Andy having used a serving coach to work with him. I am a great believer in seeing specialists. I have not suggested getting rid of his Uncle, but adding an outside expert could only help. I realize that too many competing voices would not help, but bringing in an outside expert could be beneficial. To me, it is worth a shot. Last year, I thought that a sports psychiatrist was needed, but now that Rafa is playing better, some help on his serve might make a difference. How could it hurt?

      • Dude! Rafa hired Oscar Borris in 2010 and he actually helped Rafa to win both Wimbledon and US Open with a powerful serve. It was a big mistake that Toni sacked him after that. In 2011, Rafa’s serve is getting weaker from time to time and eventually lost to Djokovic 7 times.

        I hate to say it but uncle Toni is too stubborn. He never helps Rafa improve his serve and return of serve. After that tough loss against Rosol in Wimbledon 2012, Rafa continued to have early exit on grass court because of his poor service game and return of serve. It doesn’t seem to get improved.

        It’s time for a change.

    • Souix, yesterday The reported that during the second set at 2-2, “Novak unloads an F-bomb that has the commentators scrambling for an apology as he gives his opinion on the lack of a rain break. He then follows it up with something in Serbian that does not sound like an apology.”


  13. I don’t think Rafa fans “hate” Novak, but are frustrated by his recent easy wins over Rafa. I have been surprised however, by what I have seen as more petulant behavior by him. I guess that I thought his being number one by a huge margin would make him more gracious, but the opposite has happened. Novak does give a lot to charity as all the top players do, but he moved out of Serbia as soon as he started winning. I don’t know about Kei, but I think only Andy and Rafa have not moved to a tax haven among the top 10. I do have to give Stan and Roger a pass since they were born in one. I am not saying that Andy and Rafa do not try to shelter their income, only that it is harder for them. Novak is still the favorite for RG, but his nerves are going to be incredible.

  14. Why all the hate for Novak??? He is really a wonderful person…he loves animals…gives so much to charity… When the disaster in Fukushima happened he helped raise money in honor of Kei Nishikori … He certainly is no more arrogant than Roger Federer!! I want Rafa to win everything as well but I don’t think Novak deserves such hate. Rantings don’t lie, Rafa is where he is because that is how he is playing …the same goes for Novak, he is number one because he is winning everything! Rafa is almost back to being unbeatable on clay and we shall see if he has it in him to win another slam. Like a said before there is no one who can ever catch his record on clay… If he never wins another slam he is cemented in store forever As The King Of Clay… a Champion like no other. He is Rafael Nadal and haven’t we been lucky to have witness this Extraordinary era in tennis and be a fan of such an Extraordinary unique Athlete as Rafael Nadal!

    • Being an animal lover does not a wonderful person make.
      I personally do not hate Nole but I have a tremendous dislike of him. His poor sportsmanship when losing, his temper tantrums, broken rackets, I could go on but I think you get the picture. Tennis is not American football. It’s a genteel and long established sport.
      He is not a likable person. Yes, he is the world number one and has earned his ranking. I dislike him because of his ugly behavior, plain and simple. Articles have been written about how he is not loved by the public. I can’t speak for others but surely for me I just think he is awful.

    • I think Rafa fans take it personally when Rafa becomes Djoker’s whipping boy, so instead of appreciating the Djoker and showing respect, they find the negatives and show some hate.

      Sure Djoker has his problems, but they all do. These are very highly competitive young men. I used to hate on Djoker until I saw Nadal banging his chest once, a thing I hated on the Djoker for. That stopped me in my tracks and caused me to reevaluate my life:) These days there’s no reason to hate on Novak- I simply don’t want him to win, and I root for everyone against him. Because Nadal fan! However when Djoker does win, he deserves it because he’s elevated himself above all comers, and he does put in the hard work which is paying off.

      Djoker is actually a nice guy if you take the time to see through the red mist of hate (for the healthy haters). He’s a bit sexist but hey we all have our views on how life and the world should be. If I had to hang out with Rafa or Djoker, I would hang with Djoker coz I thinks he got more personality than Rafa; he will be more fun. Still doesn’t change my love for Rafa. Rooting for Nadal doesn’t equal hating on Djokovic.

      Well done Andy Murray for pulling Djoker down from his perch. French Open just got very interesting. And I think if Rafa meets Djoker, Rafa will beat him next time. Also happy to hear Rafa talking about playing for a long time to come. Our boy has plans!

      Andy Murray is the one we should be wary of in RG, not Djoker.

      • Mac, I have watched so many of Rafa’s matches, and I never saw Rafa banging his chest. I believe you so it must have happened, but it was a rare event. Novak is an incredible player, but I was surprised by how poorly he acted this week. He was smashing his rackets, touching the chair umpire, throwing a racket to almost hit a fan, swearing constantly and complaining nonstop I guess the ATP does not announce the fines players receive? Poor Rafa swore in a match once and was immediately warned.

      • Murray definitely but what about Kei, Nick, and Stan who wants to defend his title.

        I just hope that Nadal stands at that RG court and tells himself, “I own the FO.” I want him to feel it, believe it and play ownership. If he can do that he will win.

        RAFA ROCKS

  15. I knew Murray would win. Novak is not unbeatable. In fact he is more beatable than ever before at clay. I wish Murray was no.3 not 2 so he could face Novak before the final. This Murray win hurts more because it shows that Rafa could’ve easily won too. Maybe should’ve. Rafa is better than Andy and if Andy could dismantle Novak so easily you bet Rafa could too. We all know this. Question is, does Rafa ? BELIEVE RAFA. You are a legend. And by far the best and most dominant sports player in any surface ever. You are THAT big of a legend. Know yourself. You were eating the world no.1’s for breakfast during your entire career.

    • You are totally right, it hurt, the way our champ( Rafa), lost to djokovich, while, belluci and nishikori, pushed djokovich to 3 setter, Rafa had dominated, Andy and nishikori always… I think our champ Rafa, is close to his best again and the joker is starting to be beatable again…

  16. Hi Margo , fellow Allie ,yes can’t wait for next Sunday I enjoy the FO best out of the main four , for obvious reasons ,yep Andy’s a good guy and as tennis goes the only good player Britain as ever had, although he’s Scottish and I’m English Ifeel lucky that he plays under the UK. Where as you have many good players especially in the women’s tennis at the moment. Although I’m not a fan of Serena’s I do like Jack Sock and loved John McEnroe. But at the French Open I’m rooting for Rafa and hopefully he will have as much luck on his birthday as Andy did, and I would love to see Carla squarez Navaro in the final but that might be pushing things a bit to far . look forward to your comments too. Roll on Sunday

    • Yes, allies. I have to do more reading but from what I do know, without the partnership, and deep friendship between Churchill and FDR we might be looking at a different world.

      Andy made a joke once about being Scotish when he loses but British when he wins, or vice verse as I can’t recall. The reporter chuckled as did I.
      Jack Sock is making headway into the big league. I hope he keeps improving.

      I was never a Serena fan. I did catch MANY of her ugly displays. I think the worst was when she threatened a linesman (female). Even I was scared just watching because she seemed to tower over the woman. I could not believe it. Enuf!
      Lately I have been following Madison Keys. She was the finalist vs Serena today. She has #1 potential but already she’s been out on injury. We’ll see.

      Until RG

    • Maria, FYI, according to CNN Andy is the only other British man (wow) to win the Italian Open. The other was Pat Hughes in 1931. The Queen mother must be dancing.

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