Here’s why Rafael Nadal won’t judge his progress until March

Tennis - Shanghai Masters tennis tournament - Shanghai, China - 12/10/16. Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his match against Viktor Troicki of Serbia. REUTERS/Aly Song
Photo: REUTERS/Aly Song

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

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously not the result that you wanted out there tonight, but how did you see it, especially in that third set? He got that momentum from the second set, and it seemed to carry over.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I think I had 10 minutes that was very hard, and playing against a player like him, that’s terrible, no?

He played aggressive, he played great, he returned — his return on my serve during that games had been very, very aggressive, and the serve was huge, no?

I tried to go inside a couple of times, maybe returning to behind the baseline, but I was not watching clear way to return, no?

Well, I lost against third of the world. Very close match. I had been playing six matches already this year. That’s positive for me, winning five, losing the sixth.

But a close result, no? It’s important to win a lot of matches, of course, but at the same time it’s important to — when I lose, it’s important to lose with just a small difference.

So that’s what happened today, and that’s, at the same time, with being negative, because losing always is negative. But the result was so close, and that’s positive, no? Because that mean that my mind was ready to keep fighting until the end, and that’s what I did.

Even in the third, I had some moments that he had some chances to have the double break, so I was there and I saved a couple of good points. And then I had my opportunity, but only returned one break point and he served well and he hit the winner from first ball, no, so that’s it.

He played aggressive, more than me. It’s true that with this serve it’s a little bit easier to play aggressive than with my one. But he was, I think, a little bit better than me tonight. He deserve, and congrats to him.

Q. Do you think you would have been ready for a five-set match tonight if you were in Grand Slam mode?
RAFAEL NADAL: Easy answer: Let’s see it in two weeks, one week and a little bit more. That’s it.

Q. If you have a good Australian Open, by your standards, do you think we can see you back here next year, starting next season?
RAFAEL NADAL: We don’t know what’s going on next year. I loved the atmosphere. I really just can say thank you very much to all the organization of the tournament. Is unbelievable. People is so nice. Make me feel more than, better than like home, maybe. 

Was a great experience to be here in Brisbane. Just can say thank you to the crowd, thank you to the organization, to the people who make possible the event, because they are doing unbelievable good work, no?

Doesn’t matter what gonna happen in Australia to decide if I come back or not next year. No, no. I know I played good Australian Opens playing Doha, good Australian Opens playing Chennai, and very bad Australian Open playing Doha.

No, it’s easy or not fair to say after the tournament if I play good, I gonna come back, or if I play bad, I don’t wanna come back because it’s not the right preparation. I feel that I played six good matches, as I said before, winning five, losing one.

I feel that remain one week and a little bit more for the Australian Open start, so I really hope that I can be ready for it, and I gonna fight and to practice hard to make it happen. Then what gonna happen, I cannot predict, but anything is possible.

Q. Do you feel your preparations for the Australian Open are on track? You had six matches now. Do you feel you’ve got enough obviously to look confidently towards Melbourne?
RAFAEL NADAL: You never can feel confident, you know. When you are going to an event, you know, you have to put attention on every moment, every practice, every match. All the opponents are dangerous.

So maximum respect for everybody and for the tournament itself. Last year I felt that I was ready, played great in Abu Dhabi, played great in Doha, I had a good week of practice in Melbourne, and then I lost in the first round. So you never know, and you cannot predict.

The only thing that is in my hands today is try to keep working the same way I am doing. I try my best in every moment. I work so hard to come back after the injury in Mallorca, and I feel that I am on the right way.

But as I said before, I said in Abu Dhabi a couple days ago, no, is not a question, I cannot analyze my game or my results only in Abu Dhabi, Brisbane, and Australia. When you come back a period of time, you didn’t play tennis, you need, you know, longer — you need to see a little bit, overall a little bit more.

Looking overall first two weeks of the season have been positive for me, and I cannot focus only on Australian Open, no? Let me play for three months, and then we will see what I am, no, because, you know, I can go to Australia and I can play very well, but at the same time, I can lose. You never know what’s going on.

But probably after Miami gonna be a good moment to analyze a little bit what’s going on and to see where I am being realistic, because you can play some good matches, but you need to see a little bit more tournaments in a row to analyze a little bit your real performance.

Q. Milos said he felt in Abu Dhabi he didn’t match your intensity, that he wanted to focus on matching your intensity tonight. Intensity as far as his approach, being up, being ready for the match. Do you feel like there was 10, 15 minutes where things kind of dipped that he was zoning in, or did you lose your intensity a little bit?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always is a balance, no? Matches decide in just a few things. Probably if I put that passing shot forehand cross, I had the break in the second set, big chance that we will be here one hour before with a victory, maybe 6-4, 6-3, or 6-4, 6-4, no? That’s another thing.

That’s tennis. That passing shot was long, and that’s it. Then he had the break and match changes, no?

We can talk a little bit overall, and overall, I think, before he had the break in the second set, I think I was playing better than him. That’s my feeling. And I think that’s the real feeling. I was being better than him on court, and after that he was better than me, you know.

Not big difference when I was better than him and not big difference when he was better than me. Just small details, but that’s what happened tonight. I had a big chance. I didn’t convert that chance. And then he was aggressive and he played well.

Q. Looking forward to this year, what are your goals for 2017?
RAFAEL NADAL: My goal is — tennis goal?

Q. Yes.
RAFAEL NADAL: My tennis goal is try to win every match that I play. That’s my main goal. When I go on court, try to be competitive and try to be healthy and play the full schedule, be able to work the way that I am working for the whole year.

And then if I make that happen, I believe I gonna fight for good things and I can have something beautiful this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. Vamos Rafa…A few adjustments and you will be lifting more trophies! Best wishes for 2017…I will be watching and rooting for you all the way!

  2. I don’t like his mindset. Rafa should first trust his game and actually compete for ANY grandslam ahead.
    To be honest, we know Rafa is gonna lose early in AO after his saying.
    He is hunted by clay. But he didn’t realise his problem is his fitness mainly and clay is the most physical demanding surface. I am not surprise that he would failed to win RG this year. And because he only focuses his game for clay only (no serve, no backhand down the line, no flattening the shot), he would colapse after that. It’s another 2015, 2016.

  3. Nadal, don’t be too harsh with you and it is too early to judge based on one performance. Keep enjoying and play with intensity. May the Lord give you good health and complete recovery from all injuries. We test with you for a great year of playing and good health and more wins. Shalom dear brother.

  4. Missed seeing the Match, but I’m glad as I would have been too upset in the second n third sets. I really thought you would beat him Rafa, having done so recently, but conditions are different n your press conference said it all. You can do it son, so go for it in Melbourne – I wish you all the luck in the world n i will be praying for you. Wish I could see you in person. So happy Maria has come along with you. Love to you both n your family. Your Aussie Abuela Shirley.⏳👑😀😊😇

  5. Rafa I am sooooooooooo looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night in Sydney

    for the Fast 4.

    I hope you get some rest in Sydney with your team and Maria.

    Take care,love and prayers,


  6. Susie, I think we all new it would only be a matter of time , you managed to put it more elegantly than me LoL . I just hope that 2017 isnt going to be another year dominated by Novak ,that would be so boring , would love it to be Rafa but if not Andy or a mixture of others (kei, Grigor) saw a great match with a new young American player (one to watch out for in the future apparently) don’t know his name but he looked like a young Michael J Fox.

  7. Yes it’s early days. Why should you not win a couple of GS !! You are playing better & better. Just some key points in these matches turn the table. Serves must get better & also returns ought to be deeper so that you can get into the rallies & pummel them with your FH. Geniuses like you just need 2-3 matches to be on track to win all the time. Vamps Rafa

  8. Rafa good luck in the AO , I know you always put in 100% no matter what the outcome , you have played well in your last two tournaments and as you said only losing one game. As Beverly has said in an earlier post other top players lose and nothing is said, but if you lose in some people’s eyes your washed up. You and Roger are still playing great so why should you give it up just because Grand slams may not be possible anymore. 90% of most of the players on the circuit will never win one grandslam does that mean they shouldn’t be playing. You are the most honest and genuine player out there and will always be loved by your fans. Other players have your wits about you Voldermort( Novak) is back the least genuine player on the court ,who dulls his games down on purpose and hey ho in the final after pulling many stunts to put his opponent off ( finger/ falling over) manages to pull of shots that apparently have been missing from his game all week, true self coming out today with smashing rackets and hitting balls into the crowd , ripping shirt Novak your game suffered apparently because of personal problems, well all I can say is you then is you might still have had the number one spot then if you hadn’t had an affair ( allegedly).. sorry for rant I do realise this is a Rafa website. Rafa have a great next two weeks and I hope you are satisfied with the level of your game 😀 For anybody who is interested the Novak/Andy match is still on , no it’s not Rafa but worth a watch for Novak’s acting ability.

    • Hilarious. This would make a great article for a tabloid, ranting and raving about Nole “on court” with a little bit of smut thrown in.


  9. Best of luck Rafa. You played good, but at the end you seemed tired. You should try not to go for so many returns. See a way to cut it short and to the point. I saw the match and Milos won one game with 4 serves. This is what you need to do. The very best to you but you need to change your game. Short to the point. I love you and I admire you a lot. Take care.

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