Shanghai Masters: An interview with Rafael Nadal (October 12, 2016)

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

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You were trying your hardest at practice and during the matches but it’s not going your way for now. After Beijing, what do you think about the match you played today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I played against a player that his serve was huge during the whole time. No, I played better than in Beijing but was not the day to win.

He played better than me. He deserve to win more than me, and I need to keep working, need to adjust things, need to put the things together.

And I need to be confident again, no? I need to play my matches, to practice more and just to keep playing. That’s all. I think is the end of the season, is being tough part of the season for me. The tournaments are difficult. Surfaces are difficult for me and is difficult at the end of the year historically. I suffer at this part of the season. Normally when I arrive playing so good, this year after the injury had been a little bit tougher if I play some good matches, but I have been tough to be confident.

I am trying, no? I tried. I tried during the whole time but I lost. That’s it.

Q. Do you think the defeat against Pouille in US Open makes maybe a difference for the end of the season or in terms of confidence?
RAFAEL NADAL: Things change. Things can change with one victory or two more victories, but it’s stupid to look to the past, always look at the things that you cannot change. Is better to look at the things that you really can change.

No, if you are thinking about if I didn’t get injury, if I won the match against Pouille, if I win the match against Del Potro in the Olympics, that’s never happened and never gonna happen. That’s already past. We have to look about the day of tomorrow and then the day after tomorrow. And that’s the only way to change things, and that’s the only way to try to be at the level that I need to be to compete around the world.

Q. Have you and your team sat down to look at what’s technically different about your game? Are the balls falling shorter? Less spin or less pace than compared to years before?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know what I have to do and I gonna do it. I have two months and a half since the next season start, so I have two months and a half to put myself at the level that I need to be, and I have the confidence that I gonna do it.

For me the season is almost over, and I accept that. Since the day after day just looking about what I need to do to be 100% ready for the beginning of the next season, no? 

That’s my motivation; that’s my goal. I gonna do all the things that I need to do to make that happen. I cannot say I gonna make that happen. The only thing that I can say is I gonna do and I gonna try my best in every single moment to make that thing happen.

Q. The race for the Masters not so important for you? You think most for the next season now?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the next couple of weeks. Is something that I need to think about, and let’s see.

I cannot say now what I gonna do during the next month. I’m not sure about my calendar. I’m not sure about the things that I need to do to try to be at 100% ready for the next year.

I need to speak with my team. I need to speak with my uncle, too, and prepare myself for calendar to try to do the things that I need to do and to work on things I need to work, because sometimes keep competing is not the solution. Sometimes the solution is practice and stop and have a process of training. And maybe that’s an opportunity to do it. I’m not sure about that.

Maybe I gonna play in Basel in two weeks. So it’s not the day and not the moment to analyze all these kind of things.

But I am a person who — you know, the losers or the victories doesn’t change a lot the mind. Let’s see when I’m talking about the coach.

Q. Have you thought of working with a mind coach, or is that part of your program?

Q. When you say you need to make some adjustments and to work on things, can you just tell what kind of area of your game or fitness or whatever you’re thinking of when you say that?
RAFAEL NADAL: I need to recover the forehand. I know I need to hit forehands. I need to — every time that I hit the forehand, I need to create pain to the opponent, something that is not happening today. Maybe because I had an injury on the wrist and I am scared. Maybe because I still have some limitation in there.

But at the end of the day, nobody cares about that and I don’t care about that. The real thing that I care is I need to create pain with my forehand to opponent. No, is something that is not happening very often now, and is something that needs to happen for the next year.

So I need to know what’s the best way to try to make that happen. If that happens, then for sure I need to recover a little bit the electricity on the legs. Need to move faster to hit more forehands. But I need to be more confident with the forehand to make that happen. Everything is a cycle. I need to do the things together.

Q. You have great achievement in terms of doubles matches. Will you focus more on doubles matches in the future?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I am not a doubles player. I am a singles player.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. Setting target of winning rg 17 is such a dissapointing thing
    as a coach why toni fear to say we will try to win ao17

    Such a one surface mindset uncle toni have for great player like rafa

    Really dissapointed

  2. @Teresa

    Rafa Nadal+Control Medico+MundoDeportivo

    Should be the first choice that comes up in the search. It will say “6 Hours Ago.”

    I don’t know how to do the link thingy inside RNF comment section.

  3. I watched the Rafa/Pablo doubles last night for the first time. I could not believe what I was seeing. Rafa was like a piece of wood struggling to move. The contrast between him and the other players is ridiculous, he was tense sitting on the edge of his seat, getting up too quickly. As Rafa Fan 1 said below, panicky etc.. But he had no reason to be nervous in a 500 doubles! His problems last year were mental – we know this because he said so himself many times. This year he seems unwilling to admit he still has these problems but you have to defy your eyes and senses to not see the same problem. These reporters are asking him about mind coaches for a reason because they know him and they are not blind either. No one should lose confidence to the point of where they cannot play. Tension in his body will cause injury. Rafa, in tennis terms is old, yes, because he has been playing longer than most his age but, his losses are not consistent with the aging process – Troicki is also 30. The game can’t have changed that much since he was No 1 in 2013 – I think that is nonsense I’m afraid – tennis is simple and most of the players on the circuit are still the same. His opponents are free to play their game and look good because Rafa can barely move. Is this new? No. E.g. Roland Garros 2006. Rafa won but was visibly upset in interview ‘I could not move’ losing the first set 1-6. And we had the commentary, Roger is too good, majestic etc. No, he wasn’t – tennis can be an illusion. One plays bad, the other looks good.

    If I was to hazard a theory in the mental department, Rafa has traumatised himself from playing through too much pain and relying on painkilling injections. You can only fool your own mind for so long before it starts throwing out stress signals – fight or flight. The mind also makes associations – tennis court = danger. This is basically the problem he had last year – we know because his team said so. He also has a tic disorder (since childhood), which in nearly all cases is genetic – it is neurological – we know this because he has said so. This leaves sufferers vulnerable to anxiety for the rest of their lives (around 90% develop OCD).

    It’s possible that we see no change because the challenges he faces are not of the tennis variety and he knows this. In interview he is just going to say what he thinks fits.

    Sorry lecture over!

  4. According to MundoDeportivo, Rafa visited his doctor, Angél Ruiz Cotorro, in Barcelona after his loss to Troicki. This article quotes Rafa as saying, “I have to recover my right [wrist] to be able to do some damage to my adversary, something I did not succeed in against Troicki.” (A right wrist injury forced Rafa to skip the 2014 US Open.)
    Much of the interview is identical to the one here (Post Shanghai).
    He “hopes to be in Basel in two weeks.”

    I hope his visit to Cotorro brings good news on his physical condition.


    • I’m getting a home page only and cannot find the article. Are you able to provide the link Margo? Thanks

  5. @Teresa Gil Maybe you can help better than I can on this interview with Toni on, Oct. 14, 2016.

    Toni: “I see Rafa retiring in a few years, he will continue well on the circuit. Rafa lacks tranquility and when that happens any problem can become much larger. Rafa is disappointed. Friday evening we will talk about making the decision to continue or not for this season. Rafa is thinking of doing the maximum to be prepared for next year. Rafa is not prepared to leave winning or to leave being competitive. He is prepared to return to win at Roland Garos. That is his great dream.
    I have the conviction that will return to play very well.” (There is more but I am translation maxed out.)

    I wish you the best in your quest for your “Dixième,” Rafa!!!


    • @Teresa Gil I should have left out the .com as it will not take you to Toni’s interview.


    • @Teresa Gil It’s Toni Nadal+Mundo Deportivo and that will bring you directly to the interview.


    • Lack of tranquility comes from fear. Rafa fears big serves, fast courts , flat shots and anything that interrupts his rhythm. His game is a defensive one that requires a very fit body and running legs. He did well as long as those physical qualities were there but the age is catching up with him and his refusal to adapt to a more aggressive offensive game had him in this vicious cycle of loss after loss. Tony Nadal needs to go, diagnosis without having a solution won’t solve anything. He’s passed his expiration date very long time ago.

    • I haven’t seen this Margo, but thanks I will look at it tomorrow. I’m not sure I’ll get any more than you out of it – my Spanish is appalling.

      • Well he must be very low – his ambition is to win RG – it used to be other surfaces!

      • Or perhaps he is being realistic? I remember, after this latest injury, voicing my desire for him to choose more carefully the tournaments he would play. He has won on all surfaces, something many greats have failed to do. RG is a logical choice for another Slam. I know he wants it. Perhaps that is something for him to aim for and in the process gain some momentum…
        I am just hoping for the best for him.

        RAFA ROCKS

    • I have now read it – and I can’t elaborate on what you report. It comes across as though Rafa is lacking calm (his favourite word:). But the injuries are less of a problem. He is very, very disappointed:(

  6. We know Why rafa says he needs to improve his forehand since he missed his very forehand down the line in the net in 2 nd set against viktor on viktor serve 15-30
    if he have made it he could easily have break point and could serve for 2nd set
    he was very sad
    something happened in grigor match actually he did hit the forehand so well but grigor that day defended so well and v know rafa served so baD

    Bottom line is his forehand is going so good
    after shanghai
    for me he played best tennis in bejing open this season
    he got his energetic power swing back in his hands while hitting forehands which he was missing from many days
    in shanghai 1 set he not played like bejing
    but 2 nd set played so well again but then again when u r 1 set down and opponent serving so good nothing u can do much

    But the real thing is in his presser nor any journalist asked or rafa told the real issues is that he facing problems with his serve and then his return of serve
    serve is not coming well because rafa dont have the good avg speed and he is feeling no confidence on his serve
    so first thing he shud look after is his serve
    maybe hire someone for sErve only …he need to improve his avg serve speed
    and then his service returns needs to improve which will again come when he feel confident

    Of course his forehand is not 100 % and it is the most important shot in rafa game but it not bad also since shanghai
    he really needs to look after his serve and return

    I feel sometimes so confused the same rafa was unbreakable in end of season in 2013 and he facing such problem

    So work out this problem rafa
    vamos stay healthy

  7. As i think I mentioned a couple years ago, Rafa’s problems are largely mental. He is nervous, puzzled, confused, panicky when the opponent gets the better of him etc. and this obviously affects him physically too. His legs feel heavy (as he himself has mentioned), they don’t work and his speed is affected. In the same way his fh etc. are not the same. His shot selection is poor. His serve. And we could go on. As an ardent fan I feel terrible to say this and can hardly watch his matches. It’s a very sad situation to say the least.
    Its like a burn out – I’ve seen this in others before. His problems have crept in little by little and the fact that he says the same things in his interviews and denial in some cases is quite typical of this problem. Also this is a viscious circle. As long as his mental problems are not taken as seriously as they should be and addressed, this is not going away. A professional pschologist and even a medical doctor – one who has dealt with similar cases should be consulted. It’s amazing that those close to him and around him don’t seem to see this. Rafa can keep practising as much as he wants but if his weaknesses and problems are not dealt with right from the source of the cause – not treating the just the symptoms – then I don’t know if anything is going to change. Feel sooooo bad for him. I wish things would change easily just with extra practice but if the right issues (tennis and otherwise) are not scrutinized and addressed thoroughly …… I don’t know. At the moment the training seems wishy-washy.
    Also, has djoko been one of the reasons since 2011? Even though Rafa has beaten him on a few occassions since then?
    Additional coach? Addtional team members? I think so, if not a complete change which Rafa would not allow and I can understand that – to a certain extent.
    Whatever, its too sad and a great pity to see this great, superb athelete and tennis player – fade away.
    The wonderful, kind, loyal and beautiful human being remains!!!!! Consolation.

    Rafa, please do something and come back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VAMOS!

    • I think it is called denial, on everyone’s part. I am no doctor, but even I can tell that something not quite right is going on.

      He may have seen a psychologist, though only once, when he was very young. Remember that Toni has had very tight control over Rafa from an early age. Who knows what he may have told Rafa regarding seeing such a professional.
      Rafa needed help from childhood but never received it. It is now a full-blown crisis. I, as a fan, can only sit back and hope he gets the help he needs.


    • He is so inconsistent… I just don’t get it. One day it’s lights out vintage Nadal with his famous jaw dropping shots, the next match I can’t even watch. His serve has no spin on it, the first serve mostly ends up in the net. He is no longer the fear factor in the locker room. I suppose it’s all mental plus his body is riddled with injuries. I honestly do not know what the right answer is for Rafa. He is adamant about not changing anything on his team and perhaps it may not help! As an ardent fan, I have said many times before win or lose…I love Rafa. I’m in it for the long-haul with him and whatever he decides to do I will support him.That is not to say that I wish he would seek a second opinion! It makes me so sad to watch him struggle, I want to wave a magic wand and make him better! For me it’s hard because Rafa gave me the love of tennis, there is no other tennis player that will replace him!

  8. Rafa certainly seems very confused. But if he is not injured I feel he should finish the season even if he does not win many games.
    The reason I think this way is because he said in an earlier interview that he needs to get his forehand back to where it was. Fine except for one thing. If he ends his season and returns home to Majorca I greatly fear that he will practice, practice and practice that forehand to such an extent that his wrist will not be able to take it and he will suffer another injury and not be able to use his forehand at all.
    Which will probably put him out of play for the start of 2017.
    I sincerely hope I am wrong but I have been concerned for some time about Rafa’s excessive practice routines which often last far longer than a match would .
    I have always said that Rafa should make his own decisions as to what is best for him and I still abide by that but that does not stop me from worrying.

  9. Rafa my son your face looks drawn, thin n tired. You also look worried n sad. Why are your opponents gaining points on their strong serves. These people previously trembled when they came up against you. You have more or less said Uncle Tony Made You – well Uncle Tony is going to Break You if he does not do something now to help you with whatever the problem is. Uncle Tony has to face facts n do the right thing by you. Tony please help Rafa. If you need outside support , then get it. I am 81 yrs old n I say this from my heart as I would to my own 3 sons. I love Rafa like my own grandson n he will always be the Greatest Tennis Star in every respect. Vamos Rafa. God Bless You. Love your Aussie Abuela. 👑🏆😊😇😀

    • Yes, I agree with you Shirley, he looks drawn. He got himself a dietician – I hope she knows what she is doing. He looks underweight for his body type. Rafa is wired – he needs foods that will calm him down which may not be a conventional athletes diet.

  10. First he says that technically he knows what he has to do and he’s gonna do it, then in another reply he says that he’s not sure about the things he needs to do to be 100%. Rafa is definitely confused. He seems to have reached a cross road in his tennis and he is not quite sure which direction is the best way to go. Unless Rafa is mentally or physically exhausted, he should see out the rest of the season and If he is lucky enough to qualify for the world tour finals at the O2, he should view it as a bonus.

    Rafa is too anxious about every tournament he enters. He has to learn how to relax and not send out a message to his opponents that he is desperate and fearful of losing. There is no shame in seeking help from a psychologist and that’s what Rafa needs right now. There are so many people in his team surely someone can get through to him.

  11. He’s getting old, that’s all. Like Roger Federer. And he’s not ever gonna get any younger. In fact, he’s getting older each match he plays, whether or not he changes his coach or hires a shrink. But he is still Rafa, and nobody else even approaches the beauty of his passionate, heroic style on the court. Let’s just enjoy him while still we can.

  12. It is very evident from the answers from Rafa that he is thoroughly confused. He is contradicting his own statements in a single interview. I don’t think just playing and working hard is the solution. He has to strategize like Novak does, how Andy makes notes and refers and is improving. Nadal looks like a lost cause and I don’t think Uncle Toni is really worried and concerned with the level of his nephew today from where he was No.1. He was the toughest opponent in Tennis to every one, Roger, Novak, Andy and all top players. Today he is beaten like journey man. What a shame.

    • There have been other contradictions but not in the same interview. I am now even more worried about his mental condition. I just hope he takes a breather and figures out what the problems are because it’s not just one problem.
      Rafa is a rare and a raw talent and it is great his uncle recognized that in his nephew. It is also sad that he taught his nephew that Mallorca or Spain is the best in everything. No one country is the best in everything. He and his team have made it abundantly clear they need not look any farther than home for advice or help.

    • I think his strategy is to remain in top 10 for next 3-4 years, and keep playing with same everything. Millions of $$ are at stake. I don’t think he’s winning 1000 level or slams anymore. May be a 500 level on clay every season max.

    • @ Aijaz @ Margo. I saw the interview and Rafa was misquoted on the ATP website. The ATP put a positive spin on the interview (probably because of fear of ticket returns). Rafa was confused and down but did not contradict himself. I don’t recall him saying ‘I’m gonna do it’ in the context it comes across. He said words to the effect that he needs to make changes and the confidence to do that.

      • Teresa, I have been looking for the YouTube video since yesterday. Will keep checking because as we all know what the media do.
        Having not seen the video, it is still a telling interview. The picture of him here showing a down-turned smile and a hand gesture makes me want to know exactly what he was responding to. Yes, he has used many different facial expressions during interviews but usually his hands are clasped in front of him, or he is fiddling with his hair, or cap….
        I just want him to be well.


      • It was not on youtube but daily motion – which is more difficult to acess. If I can get to a link I will copy it to you.

  13. I am a big fan of you Rafa. We as fans have to accept the players opinion and the approach regardless we agree or not agree with it. Only he knows what´s the issue with his confidence, his playing style, his wrist. We have no Idea how it is to feel the comeback is close… in power and shots like before Paris and than to stop and beginn again. Even it is heartbreaking to see the opponent´s trust to beat you as they know you are fragile at this moment…When you say you know what´s wrong I believe you know what´s to improve. It seems unrealistic for now but I see it somehow possible that Rafa will add somebody experienced to his Team…

    • Hopefully his current state and predicament will persuade him to adopt a new approach. This is like waiting for Godot.

  14. Please necesitas un nuevo coach, nuevas tacticas nuevas estrategias, eres un excelente jugador abre tu mente a una oportunidad de conocer a otro coach, Vamos Rafa

  15. Road to recovery:
    1. A psychiatrist
    2. A sports psychologist
    3. A tennis advisor
    4. A thorough orthopedic evaluation

  16. Il faut maintenant se préparer à fond pr la prochaine saison rafa va le faire j en suis certaine et mettra ttes les chances de son côté ! Il sait ce qui l handicape depuis sa blessure à rg et c est l important car il va pouvoir y travailler durant 2 mois et revenir au top du top! Rafa est 1 joueur très physique et malheureusement ça suppose de nombreuses blessures avec les résultats qui en découlent ! Rafa est 1 gd champion qui saura faire ce qu’ il faut pr revenir au plus haut niveau qui est le sien 👍👍👍👍👑👑👑❤❤❤❤

  17. Same old same old “I know what I have to do.” No you don’t, Mr Nadal!

    No matter how you end up Rafa Sweetheart, I will always root for you, as frustrating as that is now. And in case you never discover your mojo, there’s always YouTube!

  18. Poor Rafa. The press keeps asking him questions that are very irritating. I strongly believe Rafa will come back with a vengeance and silence all the naysayers and disbelievers in his return to prominence. Every athlete goes through a difficult cycle in their career and Rafa has been experiencing that for the past 3 years and mostly the past 2, but he will find his way out of the woods and be prosperous on the courts once more before he calls it a day. Your true fans believe in you and love you and whatever path you take in your career will be supported by your loving fans. Vamos Rafa all the way back to the top!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Game wise you are solid Rafa.. But you need that extra kick in your serve.. That is the actual problem..when you can hold your own service games there are 200% chances of you breaking the opponents serve. Please work on your serve.. You were, are and will be a champion forever. Love you Rafa.. Cannot see you losing.. It hurts!!!

  20. Again, the same mantra, “I need to play my matches, to practice more and to just keep playing. That’s all.” No Rafa, that’s not all there is to do.
    He answered the questions, “Have you and your team sat down to look……” with a lot of platitudes, not saying much of anything. And about a mind coach, “No.”
    He also insists he knows what’s wrong and he’s, “…gonna fix it.”
    I feel really bad for him because he must feel lost.


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