Rafael Nadal: I’m going to fight to be better than No.9 in the world

Q. Why did you check your watch just then?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was checking how late I am (smiling).

Q. Are you always late?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. In Mallorca, the time is, you know… In Mallorca, there is a thing, when we are going, we say, I am coming. Time is tough to be 100% on time in an island. But we work a lot (smiling).

Q. You didn’t have many problems today. You won all your serve games, which is a good sign for you. It’s a good sign for your form, isn’t it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is always the same, no? When I win my serve, there is two things. Obviously, you need to serve well. Most important thing, I not a player who win the serves because I serve aces or free points, no.

When I winning a lot of serves is because I am playing well from the baseline. That’s why.

Q. How did it feel, in general, to be back out there playing?
RAFAEL NADAL: Great. I think I played solid match, no? It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love the people. That is something that is very special for me. Just happy to see the court like this and the people supporting me. So just can say thanks.

I am happy the way I am playing. I had good weeks of practice. Never easy the first round. Is always little bit more nerves at the beginning. I didn’t play against an easy opponent. The way that he plays is not a conventional game. You know, he change a lot of the rhythm of the point, you know, changing with a slice, then he hit a winner. Then he play little bit slower ball. Is not easy to read his game, no?

So just am happy the way that I played. I played good all the key points. That’s very important for me.

Q. Straight sets, center court. Would you say it’s the best possible start for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I am in the next round without losing a set, so… I don’t know if is the perfect start or not. I don’t think about that. I am just think that I played a solid match, straight-set win. I hit a lot of winners. That’s a positive thing for me. 

I know I have been practicing very well. I know it’s always going to be tough to play that well on the match, especially at the beginning. But if you win, you have the chance to improve little bit. That’s what I need.

But I need to improve, yes. But the real thing is I played well.

Q. What is the most challenging part of your comeback? You’ve done it a couple times now. Is it mental or physical?
RAFAEL NADAL: Everything, a little bit. It’s about getting back to confidence. It’s important. When you are playing and playing and winning matches, then you have things that comes very automatic, no? You don’t need to think much about the things that are happening or the way that you played points.

But when you are out for a while, you need to recover all these automatic things that makes you play easier, no? That’s the important thing.

But at the same time, I tell you is less difficult to have a comeback if you have time to practice before your comeback. When you have injuries in the middle of the season, let’s say you get injury for three months in the middle of the season, then is much more tougher, no? You need to be back because you are missing events.

So you come back before you have a good preparation normally. Even if you are healthy, you didn’t practice enough. The rest of the players are on the road, playing matches, on a good rhythm.

You feel bad, no? So when you come back in a new season for everybody — you know, when you get injury for a little while, for you it’s a little bit tougher, but at the same time, everybody starts from zero again. If you have that period of time to practice well, you are not in that big disadvantage, no? Just little bit. It happens middle of the season, then you are in much more trouble.

Q. Looking back to the game, do you think it was easier than what you thought?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t think. You know, before the match, I don’t think if…

Q. No, do you think it was easier than you thought it would be?

Q. Yes.
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s what I am answering you.

I don’t think about how going to be the match. I think about try to do the right things to win. I don’t think about how easy can say or how tough can say. I go on court. I try my best. For me, was a great victory.

I don’t expect never an easy match. I always expect difficult matches. Today was not an easy match. I had the break in the third and in the second set in the key game, in the 4-All. But before, he was serving well, so I didn’t have the possibility to have the break.

Was not a match that you win, you have break, early break in every set, and then you play with calm. No, was not this kind of match.

Q. You frequently mention you like to go fishing, including the other day. What do you like about fishing? What is the appeal?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think is a full package, no? Is not only about fishing. I love the sea. I am from an island. Is not just about fishing. Is about going out with the boat, be in the middle of the sea. I love all these kind of things, no?

I love to be a little bit away sometimes with the boat, going out with the boat, to spend the night outside. For me, is something unique. That’s make me feel great. I relax myself. I love it.

When you wake up in the morning, you go for fishing, is another good experience, no? I love all the things that I can do on the ocean, on the sea. I cannot do today ski and these kind of things because little bit dangerous. But when I stop my career, probably I will do it.

Q. You were talking before about confidence. Does it have anything to do with you being No. 9 in the world? Or to be No. 9 or not doesn’t make any difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, yes, it makes a difference. Is much better be No. 1 than No. 9. Is no question about that.

But I am No. 9 today. That just the real thing. Today I’m the ninth player of the world. I going to fight to not be worst, and I going to fight to be again better. I feel that if I am playing well and I am healthy, I think I can be much better.

Q. When you’re out on the sea more or less by yourself, do you reflect on what you’ve accomplished as a young man? Do you put tennis in perspective?
RAFAEL NADAL: What do you mean?

Q. When you’re out there away from it all, is that a time for you to reflect on the things you’ve done in your life, the obstacles you’re overcome, your achievements?
RAFAEL NADAL: Seriously, I am not a person that I think much about what happened or what didn’t happen or what could happen. I happy about the things that happened to me. I’m a lucky person, for sure, for all the things that happened to me during my life.

Great family around. Great people around. A lot of friends. Tennis career better than I ever dream.

I had injuries, yes. Without injuries, maybe will be a better career. Maybe yes, maybe not. I am happy the way that I had the chance to play for a long, long time on this sport. I expect to keep playing for few more years.

I am not, as I say before, a person who I am thinking about what I achieved or what I don’t achieve. I am a person who try to enjoy the moment. That’s what I do. What happened happened. Important thing is what can come.

Q. You’ve been around for a while, competed in this tournament for a while. The Australian Open, as a spectacle, is it getting better from your point of view?
RAFAEL NADAL: From not my point, but from the point of everybody. Everybody see the tournament is just unbelievable. Is unbelievable what Tennis Australia is doing with this event, but at the same time with the tennis in general.

I have been in Brisbane. Have been a great event. I have been in Sydney playing Fast4 last week. Was an unbelievable stadium, great crowd.

Is so important for our sport, all the promotion that Tennis Australia is doing, no? So just from the players’ side, we can only say thank you very much for all this promotion, thank you very much for all the new things that happens in this tournament every single year. Every year is something new, better for the fans, the players, I think the media, too. I’m not a journalist, but I believe the tournament is improving in all aspects. Is something that is so important for everybody to have an event that is ready to invest to improve the things all the time.

Source: Australian Open


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