Q. What does it mean to be back in the semifinals of a slam?
RAFAEL NADAL: Great. Is a good news. Especially winning against difficult players: Monfils quarterfinals, Zverev round of 16, and now Raonic. I think all of them are top players. So that’s very important for me because that mean that I am competitive and playing well, no?
So just excited about be back in final rounds of the most important events. You know, I am here to try to make this, no? Is always difficult, but I fighted and I worked hard to try to make that happen.
Very happy that after a lot of work, be in this round again. Is special thing for me, especially here in Australia.
Q. Has it felt like you were far away from this round, the semifinals, or you feel like you’ve been close in the last couple years?
RAFAEL NADAL: Depends, no? I missed a couple of slams for injuries. Last year, obviously, here I was far. In the US Open I was close because was in the round of 16, having 4-3, 30-Love in the fifth. I was close to make that happen, but didn’t.
Here happen. So happy for that. Playing and competing very well during the whole event. That’s very important for me.
Q. Milos said compared to Brisbane you’ve changed things tactically against him, maybe the return position. Can you just share some things about that.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I received inside the court. In Brisbane I was receiving like six, seven meters behind the baseline.
I watched the match before, and I decided to go in, no? Talking with Toni, with Carlos, we know that we needed to change that. Before the match we were talking about trying to combine, you know, returning sometimes very close to the baseline and sometimes back.
But the real thing is I felt well from inside, and I felt that I was putting some pressure on him, so I decided to stay in almost all the time, no? So happy for that.
Happy because in Brisbane, I think I was close. I was very, very close. I have probably one point away, one passing shot away. But I didn’t make that happen. It’s true that after that I lost little bit the court, no? I was playing little bit more defensive.
Today I think I was there. Even for moments he played so good from the baseline, I was there trying to stop his aggressive shots and don’t losing court, don’t losing meters behind the baseline, not too many. That’s important change for me.
Anything can happen, no? You can win, you can lose these kind of matches. Decides in a few points. In the second set, he could win the second set for sure, no? Finally I won. Today was for me.
I feel very happy for my attitude and for the tennis, too. I hitted some great passing shots. That’s good news for me. When I make that happen, it’s because I’m playing well.
Q. Six of the eight semifinalists across men’s and women’s are 30 or over. Do you think there’s a reason for that or is it just a coincidence?
RAFAEL NADAL: Happened this time. I don’t know. I talk about my tour that I know. The other tour I don’t know very well.
The thing is there is a new generation playing so good, no?
Q. Is it getting easier for older guys on tour?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I think is getting tougher now. I think now there is really a new very good generation. Probably few years ago things were a little bit different, but now there’s lot of good young kids, no?
It’s going to be tough to make that happen again.
Q. You’re playing the only player in the semifinals who is not 30. Do you think he’s potentially the pick of the younger breed of players coming through as a major winner potentially?
RAFAEL NADAL: Everybody thinks that he’s a potential major winner, no? But he was there probably little bit later than what we thought because he’s, I don’t know, 26, 27.
RAFAEL NADAL: 25, still young. But that’s not the new generation. He’s a player that have been on the tour for a lot of years already. He’s a player that has an unbelievable talent, unbelievable potential. He started the season playing unbelievable, no?
Is going to be a very tough match for me. I hope for him, too. I going to try to play my best because I know he’s playing with high confidence.
Q. Weak and amateur players, when they play somebody with a very strong serve, there is an important moment, they almost pray for the other one to make a double-fault. I would like to know if something like that happens and goes through the mind also of a top player like you? Raonic is serving for the set with his huge serve. Are you hoping when he misses the first serve that he doesn’t put the second serve in or not?
RAFAEL NADAL: I really don’t understand the question.
Q. I’ll try again.
RAFAEL NADAL: Okay.
Q. The weak players, sometimes when they have to face someone with a very huge serve, they pray, Let’s hope that he makes a double-fault. I would like to know if a player like you also has these thoughts in the mind or you don’t even ever think about it?
RAFAEL NADAL: I never thought about double-fault in that moment, because if you think about double-fault, probably you will not be ready to return the serve.
The real thing is, he miss the first serve. But he serve, if I’m not wrong, 223, and I putted a great return. Then in the second serve, I was not expecting a double-fault, for sure, playing a big server like Raonic, no? Just happened and just can say thanks God for that. In a point like this, that was so important.
Q. Can I ask about the tape on your fingers. Is that for blisters? How painful is it when you play without the tape?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the real thing is if you watch me play for a while, I have been using that for a lot of years, no? Is nothing new for me.
The problem with my skin is when I change, for example we play here, I come back to Europe, is colder, the humidity is different. The skin suffers, no? There is some spots on the fingers that always was blisters or open.
I was tired of that. A lot of years ago I decided to put the tape every day on the places that happens. So after that, I am not suffering any more.
Q. You don’t have more than usual? It’s just the same?
RAFAEL NADAL: The same like always, yeah.
Q. The tennis world is now looking at the fact that the final might be a vintage final between yourself and Roger. Do you give yourself the luxury to look ahead a little bit and think what might be?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, let me enjoy today, the victory, being in semifinal. For me is a great news again. Is a good start of the season.
Now I have a very tough match against Dimitrov. What happens on the other side of the draw, I think is great for tennis that Roger is there again after an injury, after a lot of people talks about always the same things, that probably he will never be back.
The real thing is that he’s back and he’s probably ready to win again, fighting again to win a major. That’s the real thing, and that’s good for the fans because Roger is a legend of our sport, no?
I am happy to be there, too. I am focused on my semifinals.
Source: Australian Open