Rafael Nadal: Sometimes I can play better than the No. 5; sometimes I can play much worse than the No. 5

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates victory at the end of his Third Round match with Andrey Kusnetsov of Russia on Day Five of the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Sept. 1, 2016 - Source: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images North America)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images 

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Have you ever hit a lob like that before?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, actually yes. Not many times, but I remember one in Madrid against Djokovic.

Q. You won that point?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. (Smiling.) If not, I didn’t count.

Q. Is this as confident as you’ve felt with your tennis in a long time? Did you feel like you could get to this point, say, when you had to pull out of the French Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I think I played well tonight. Very happy about the way I played. First set especially was very high level.

Then I think I played a good second set. But, you know, I lost the serve in the second for a couple of games. I was serving bad. When you play against a player like him, that he’s able to return quick, hit a lot of good shots, then you are in big trouble, no? That’s what happened.

So I don’t know in which kind of level I am. Is true that when I had to stop I was playing great. I felt myself ready for the French. I don’t know what could happen on the French Open if I was keep playing, but I felt ready.

I don’t know where I am today. Only thing I know is I am happy. I am excited to play the US Open. For me is a great news that I am on the tour again, and I am playing every day with less pain on the wrist. That’s most important thing.

Q. Aside from the pain, in terms of feeling more comfortable hitting your forehand, especially down the line, it seems like you’re in better shape than you had been. Does it feel to you like you can hit it the way you like to hit your forehand?

RAFAEL NADAL: I am improving with that shot. Everybody knows that is a very important shot for me. When I am able to play that shot well, then the court opens a lot, because then the cross-court forehand that I have a good ONE with topspin have a much better impact on the opponent. 

I did that well for a moments today, and I need to doing — like I am having every day a little bit better, I need to keep doing that way, improving a little bit every day.

Q. You are playing Pouille. What do you think about his game?

RAFAEL NADAL: He is a great player. He is young. He has all the shots: good serve, good forehand, good backhand. He’s a tough opponent. I practice with him a couple of times and I played with him long time ago.

I know he’s able to play a very high level. I know going to be a very tough match. I need to be ready for the match. I need to be ready to play my best if I want to keep going.

Q. How much did the Games boost your confidence?

RAFAEL NADAL: Every victory helps for the confidence, no, especially when you feel that you played well. I feel that today I played great tennis for a long time, for a lot of moments on the match. That helps for the confidence, no?

Every day is a different story. Tomorrow is another chance to confirm that positive feeling, so keep practicing the thing I am trying to practice and try to be ready for tomorrow.

Q. A lot of seeds have lost in your section of the draw. That helps the confidence together with the game you’re playing? The least games you’ve lost at the US Open ever since you played in three rounds.

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t understand the last part.

Q. You never lost more games than this time.
RAFAEL NADAL: Ah. That’s only fact, no? That don’t going to make the big impact on what’s coming, no?

I play my game. I play my draw. I play against opponents that are better in that moment. Because, at the end of the day, if somebody lost, it’s because the opponent played better than the seeded, no?

The ranking is a number that says the highest level you have during the year. But, for example, I don’t know, which number I am, No. 5, today in the world? Sometimes I can play better than the No. 5; sometimes I can play much worse than the No. 5. And that happens the same with the other seededs, no?

We’ll see what’s coming the next couple of days. Playing against Pouille is a young and tough opponent. That’s the only thing that stays in my mind now.

Q. The day you pulled out at the French Open you were obviously very sad and disappointed you had to do that. Was there ever a sense of doom? Did you ever fear that injury to the wrist would be worse than something you’d ever experienced before?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I know was an accident. I know was a bad movement in Madrid. Was unlucky in a very bad moment of the season for different facts: because I was playing great, because was the tournament I have more success in in my career. But that’s it.

I know is an injury that is a little bit tricky. It’s dangerous because I had in the right wrist in 2012 maybe, or ’14. No, 2014 I could not come here, if I am not wrong.

So you need to be patient. You need to take your time, recover, work hard. That’s what I did. That’s all.

Q. You just opened what looked like a wonderful museum at your home. If you had to pick just one item from the museum, what would that item be?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I just can say thank you very much to the rest of the colleagues around the world, sportsmen and sportswomen, that send me thing, send me important things from them.

Is very difficult to choose one thing, no? I have things from Tiger Woods, from I don’t know, Usain Bolt, Serena, Novak, Roger, from the best sportsmen. Michael Phelps. I cannot choose one thing. I feel very happy to have all these items in the museum.

In the end of the day is a museum that the people pays to come in and enjoy the experience, to watch these items. But at the same time is a very dynamic museum with a lot of activities inside. The profit of the museum is for my foundation. Is for a good cause, too. I’m very happy to have this.

Q. What did Usaine Bolt send to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have the shoes.

Q. You said every day there’s less pain in your wrist. Is there still something there or do you feel nothing when you’re on the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: Still something, no, but something that is not limiting my game now. That’s the most important thing.

Q. (Question regarding injuries.)
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t believe in coincidence, but is not my job to analyze that. That’s the thing. The people who run the sport has to analyze.
Is true that there is things that must be better. We cannot play in Olympic Games with one ball and the next day in Cincinnati with another ball.

I understand the people outside cannot understand the difference, but the difference is huge. You know, when we compete, we compete at our limits, and small differences makes a big impact in our body, no?

These kind of changes for our elbow, for the wrist, for the shoulder, is very bad. Is the same like changing surfaces very drastic is something that is bad. (Snapping fingers.) That’s why we have a schedule that we have different seasons.

When we play on clay, we keep playing on clay. When we play on hard, we keep playing on hard. It’s important to adapt your body to the next surfaces and to the changes, no?

The ball is a fight we the players have since a long time. We try to improve, but is always difficult.

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12 thoughts on “Rafael Nadal: Sometimes I can play better than the No. 5; sometimes I can play much worse than the No. 5

  1. Maria (England)

    King of clay and now king of the tweener. Looking forward to your match tomorrow against Lucas Pouille and YES your playing at 4 pm so I won’t need matchstick’s to keep my eyes open .You have been playing great and look very relaxed , this could be the comeback we have been waiting for 💗

    Like

  2. va4favre

    Rafa is actually number three right now. Both Stan or Kei could pass him if they go deeper than him. Rafa was helped in his ranking by Raonic’s early loss. He was about 50 points behind him.

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    1. Margo

      va4favre I can’t find your info re Rafa actually being ranked number three.

      Thus far, the ATP Tour has him ranked as number six for Singles.

      For regular world ranking Rafa is ranked number five. Even if he wins, he will still be behind Stan. So how is Rafa actually number three? Yes, I know my math is atrocious so please help me. I would love to have him jump to number three before year’s end. Thanks

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      1. MitchDescham

        He is number three in the year to date rankings (race to London) as opposed to the rolling year rankings. I assume this is where he is getting the number 3 from, but his actual ATP ranking is 5th for now but at the end of the year the year to date rank obviously will be the same as the rolling year rank (which is the actual rank).

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      2. Margo

        Thank you MitchDescham.
        This is what I have from the ATP sites but nothing is dated. Please excuse the spacing but I am using mobile and didn’t want everything jumbled together on your end.

        ATP RACE TO LONDON (End of Year Tournament, right?)

        RAONIC #3 4375

        NISHIKORI #4 3595

        THIEM #5 3025

        RAFA #6 3020

        ATP SINGLES (Regular World Rankings, right?)

        WAWRINKA 3 4980

        FEDERER 4 4945

        NADAL 5 4850

        RAONIC 6 4805

        NISHIKORI 7 4154

        No one home who can help me so I come here where people know a lot more about tennis than yours truly.

        Like

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