Rafael Nadal: If you are not nervous a little bit it’s time to say goodbye

Rafael Nadal of Spain signs autographs after his first round Men's Singles match victory over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan on Day One of the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Aug. 28, 2016 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)
Elsa/Getty Images

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. If you can, assess the match. How you feel you played today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Normal. That’s the real thing. Not very good; not very bad.

I think I played — was a good start for me obviously winning here in straight sets. I have been dominating the match comfortable after 6-1, 4-1, and I think in that game I could have the second break in the second set, no, and go 5-1.

Didn’t happen. And then the second set was tougher, no? Was tough at the end. He had some chances in the 4-All. Happy that I finally saved that game. I had the break in the last one. In the third I think I finished playing well. Last couple of games I played a little more aggressive with my forehand.

I feel that I was changing a little bit, you know, playing a little bit longer the cross shot, and then changing down the line, like last point. It was positive one.

That’s it. My serve worked well almost all the time. I am hitting very well the backhand, but it’s true that the forehand I need time. I need confidence and I need to keep practicing the forehand, no?

Is not easy to go two months-and-a-half out of competition in the middle of the season without hitting a forehand. I need to have the confidence again with my wrist. That is coming, because I feel the wrist much better, and every day feel that the wrist a little bit better. That’s very important thing for me. By the way, the most important thing.

I need to recover the normal movement with the forehand. Even if I played very well in Rio, you know, when you have pain you try to change the movement to avoid a little bit that pain no? So I need to find again the normal movement. But I am in the way.

Q. How different with the roof on is the wind or the shadows?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, the wind, there is no wind. It’s just a little bit of wind, no? Since the first day that I practiced here I checked that was not wind at all, no? Because I remembered one of these days that I was practicing in the center court outside was very, very windy, and in the center court was not wind at all, no?

The shadows are, you know, always a little bit of inconvenience during, but it’s true after 2:30, 3:00 in the afternoon it’s over. That’s a good thing. In general terms, is great. Is beautiful court. Is an amazing job that USTA did, and I think is a great improvement for everybody, for the players, for the fans who are visiting here Flushing Meadows, and for sure for the people who are following the tournament on the television.

Q. In Rio you said that you played there just because it was the Olympics. You wouldn’t have played in any other tournament. It ended up you had to play a lot. In hindsight, looking back, do you think that much court time did good for your recovery or you think that you just got too tired? 
RAFAEL NADAL: No, was too tiring. After the Olympics I feel myself destroyed. But it’s normal, no? Is not because I was not ready. It’s because I didn’t competed and I didn’t have the chance to practice strong practices on court, no? I was doing a lot of physical performance, training in the gym.

But since one week before the Olympics I was not hitting forehand, no? Just practicing 45 minutes to 30 to one hour. That’s the maximum thing that I was practicing, no?

So was a very important event for me, and in general terms have been very, very positive. I will say more than very positive, and I’m 100% recovered physically, no?

In terms of the wrist injury, I was not sure when I was there, but the real thing is the wrist improved. Was a very good decision.

Q. You’re known for your love of our sport and also for the love of your country. When you came out of the tunnel holding the flag for Spain, you were beaming and smiling. As you walked down the track, what went through your mind about the country and your journey? What were your thoughts?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I was just enjoying that very unique moment, no? Olympics are the most important event of the world of sport, so for me was something that I missed the opportunity in London, 2012, to bring the flag.

And I see it like (Asking for translation) for award, reward. Is an award after a lot of years of hard work, a lot of years of passion for the sport, a lot of years having represented well I think my country around the world no?

That moment was unique, unforgettable, and was just very, very high emotions.

Q. If that’s the case, can you understand why players choose not to play the Olympics because they are not getting ranking points and not getting prize money?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, in my personal feeling, you know, in terms of importance, the events are — always you need to find in your interior, no? You need to find what’s the motivation of yourself for everything, no?

But for me personally, Olympics is the closest thing to a Grand Slam. That’s my feeling, no? And I can’t understand some players that are a little bit older that they decided to not go because they prefer — they have been there. If they believe that there is no chances for medals I could understand, but some young players that choosed to not go there, it’s difficult to understand, no?

Olympics are once every four years and is something that is an experience you can’t miss. Even if you are young, you need to have the right people around you to advise you that have to go there. You know, because then when you are older you appreciate a lot these events and these experiences that are completely special and unique.

So that’s a thing the same what happened in golf, the same what happened in tennis with a couple of players.

But is something that makes the sport bigger, no? I think if the stars are going to Olympics makes the Olympics bigger. But at the same time, have the golf in Olympics I think makes the golf bigger, and having the tennis in Olympics have — you know, is true that we help to have the Olympics bigger, but the Olympics help us to be bigger in the world of sport, no?

Because there is a lot of fans around the world that they don’t follow tennis normally, but during the Olympics everybody see the Olympics, no? So you have a lot of visibility during that week. In my opinion we should promote that.

Q. Much less serious experience is at the end of matches here when you hit the balls into the crowd. What is that like? Where are you trying to hit it? How far and which direction?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I don’t know. (Laughter.) No idea. Don’t know. Just I try to send the balls where more people are. No, I just try to send the ball where the people really want the ball. That’s it.

Q. In our stadium do you ever try to hit it out of the stadium?
RAFAEL NADAL: No chance. We tried before. I try when I was younger but have more power without the roof, and there was no — impossible.

Q. You said you would have rested longer with the wrist had it not been for the Olympics, so if there had been no Olympics do you think you would have been playing in this tournament or still resting?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, sure I would be playing this tournament. The wrist is better, yeah.

Yes, if there is not Olympics probably I will start here. That’s the normal thing that will happen, no? But the real thing is I was very happy to play the Olympics, no, because was nothing against the injury. Nothing happen against the injury.

So the improvement had been very positive. Sometimes you take decisions, and I take the decision to play in Roland Garros and it was a very negative decision. It was very important event for me.

After that I break a little bit the wrist so had to stop for two months and a half. Then I decided to play in the Olympics and was positive thing, no?

So in terms of decisions, after the decision when you know what happened, everything is easy, but before you need to take a decision. So when you take decisions, you have mistakes or you don’t. People take decisions are the people who can have both things.

Q. You have seen it happen in basketball where there are a lot of players that want to rest because of injury. You have Laver Cup and other things happening in tennis. Is tennis too full schedule-wise, or how much more tennis do you think guys can play or players can play because the sport is also so physical?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, don’t compare the exhibitions or the tournaments outside of the tour than when we are competing on tour, because it’s a different story in terms of, you know, what is the tougher thing for the body. What really damage your body and your mental strength is other real competition.

When I have exhibition I relax. We try to do it for the crowd, to try to play good for the crowd. We try our best, but we don’t know what is the limit. You have problems when you go to the limit, so is not fair to compare that.

And in terms of calendar, I never said that calendar is too long. In my opinion the calendar can be as long as you want. For me it will be great if we have tournaments since the first week of the season every single week.

The only negative things sometimes are the mandatory events. We have a lot of mandatory events, and that creates very short periods of rest, no? But as many tournaments as we have, as more tournaments we have the better, because there is more jobs.

One sport is bigger and better not only if the best players win a lot of money, if is a lot of players can have the right money to live well.

So that’s how much more players can have the work on the tennis life, better for our tour. So the only thing is the mandatory events.

Q. You were just talking about how each of the players have to find their own motivation. In the past you said your motivation for tennis comes from your love of the sport. Talk about that. Talk about the love that you have for tennis and how that affects your motivation and drive.
RAFAEL NADAL: I always say the same, no? Sport in general is one of my hobbies and is one of my passions. Not only like player, like a spectator, too. I love the sport with a lot of competition, when I am practicing, and when I’m watching on the TV. I love the sport in general, and my life and my family always have been very close to the world of sport and living the sport with a lot of passion.

That’s why I always tried hard and I love what I do.

Q. You have done it many times, but do you still wake up on the morning of the first round of a Grand Slam and feel that nervous energy of a big tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you are not nervous a little bit it’s time to say good-bye. That’s the real thing, no? You need to be nervous. No, that’s part of the competition, no?

If you don’t feel that then it’s because you really don’t want to win as much as you need or you are not afraid about the lose. When you don’t have those feelings it’s because you don’t have enough motivation for what you are doing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, via US Open

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8 thoughts on “Rafael Nadal: If you are not nervous a little bit it’s time to say goodbye

  1. Chorchelvan V

    If Rafa could do for the rest of the tournament what he has done in the first round of US Open, I am sure he could win this tournament. VAMOS RAFA

    Like

  2. Shirley Taya

    Stayed awake until 3 am to see you play Rafa. Congratulations. You played great. Vamos Rafa. God bless you. Love from your Aussie Abuela. 🏆👑😊😇😀

    Like

  3. ashish

    wonderful words from rafa accepted his forehand is missing

    what amaze me his cross court forehand was so good in rio and even the down the line forehand

    rafa seems to loose energy on lengthy rallies which was his plus point

    so rafa needs to work on hard and lengthy practice sessions…..

    the best was rafa was serving good

    keep it up vamos rafa

    Like

  4. Maria (England)

    This is the sort of interview we like.Rafa your smile when you were flag bearer lit up the stadium, I have to keep a four hour recording just to see a few seconds of you, but it’s worth it. All I can say Rafa is KEEP GETTING NERVOUS

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elaine Crowder

    Rafa you are up and going, go, go go, and I love your honesty and humility and humbleness.

    Do enjoy every moment of the US Open,and keep those practices thrashing along.

    Love you,

    Love and prayers,

    AlaineXXSydneyXXAustraliaXX

    Liked by 1 person

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