Rafael Nadal On What Makes Roger Federer So Special

Q. I guess you’re pleased to win this one in two sets against such an opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I think I played a solid match. I played a good match, no? Very aggressive with my serve, serving well, hitting good forehands, good backhands.

Very happy. I think I played much better today than the first day. Yeah, it was a good win. I played two horrible games, terrible. That’s it. For the rest of the match, I think I played very well.

Q. You obviously played Fernando a number of times. You know each other quite well. Is there something that he did today that was not what had happened in previous matches? Did you try something new?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I know, since the season started, I was playing well. So I tried to play my game, tried to play aggressive.

My goal was don’t let him play with his forehand from easy positions. And that’s what I tried. I started well the match. Then taked a while to have the break, but finally I had in the right game, in the 4-3, and I closed well.

So in the second I started with the break, and then happened what happened with those two games. Then I was there again.

So very pleased with my performance. And I won already two matches here. Playing a little bit better today than two days ago. Tomorrow another chance to go on court, and I’m going to try to play better than I did today.

Q. You have known Roger for so long, you’re friends, and, of course, you’re great rivals, played so many times. If you had to say what is the one thing about Roger’s game that makes him so special, what would you say if you had to boil it down?
RAFAEL NADAL: Everything (smiling). Yeah, he has the talent to do very difficult things that looks easy, you know. He’s able to take the ball very early, serve and first shot. He create a lot of winners with that, two first shots, no?

And then he’s able to take the ball always from inside, and he’s very quick going to the net. If you play short ball, then you know that he gonna go inside and gonna hit a winner, gonna play a shot that hit forehand or backhand, go to the net, and you are going to be in big trouble. 

Q. Backhand in Melbourne was improved?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. His backhand in Melbourne was one of the best days that I played against him. Yeah.

Q. You said before the tournament that you didn’t want to talk about the draw because it hadn’t played out yet. Now that we have arrived at this point and we have Djokovic and Delpo and Kyrgios and Zverev, and maybe you against Roger, what are your comments on this bottom of the quarter?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I never said I didn’t want to talk about the draw. I said we can talk about the draw.

But the real thing, I have the first round against Pella and then, if I win, Verdasco, and now I have Roger or Steve Johnson and now we can talk about…

Q. Maybe the other matches that have come to fruition, the big match we have tonight, what are your thoughts on that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. I think is unlucky part of the draw for everybody. I think part of the tournament, even if they can have good matches, is probably not the best thing to have that matches that early in the tournament, for the players is not good, because good players, for sure, going to go out early.

And sometimes top players, sometimes if top players are playing well, then they have the chance to go to the final rounds, no?

In this case, doesn’t matter if everybody is playing well, because from our part of the draw, only one of us gonna be in that semifinals.

So that’s tough, but that’s not happening every week. Only thing we can do to avoid that is be in higher position of the ranking.

Q. If it does turn out to be Roger that you face, this will be the earliest you guys have met since the very first time you guys faced each other in 2004. What are your memories of going into that match? You were 17. He was established already. What were your thoughts?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t remember very well (smiling). It was a long time ago.

I went on court, nothing to lose. A lot of motivation to play against, I think, No. 1 already. The motivation to play against him.

This is not like now that I want to win, and I want to be in the final round, and I want to fight for the tournament. In that moment, I had 17. And for me to play with Roger, doesn’t matter if it was in that early round, I don’t felt it was unlucky for me. It was a beautiful match, and I tried to go out on court and enjoy it and fight for it.

Q. You’re such a great defender of break points. And tennis being a sport where not necessarily winning all the points but winning important points really matters, how do you train for that? With the academy and working with young kids now, how do you instill that in somebody when they’re young?
RAFAEL NADAL: You cannot work specifically about that, no? You need to, work every time, not only tennis part but in real life, because you need to accept the past situations. And the most important thing is have the right self-confidence, no?

I think I had that self-control not always. I had most of the part of my career, because I practiced since I was a kid with high intensity. I practiced with a lot of pressure every day. My uncle was pushing me a lot from the beginning, so that was a big help for us later to be ready to accept injuries, to accept the tough moments.

But that’s a work of every day, no? You need to create to yourself certain problems to overcome those situations.

Q. Do the conditions here favor you particularly because of the high bounce or you don’t really care? Because you like also fast hard courts.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I played well here. I played well in very fast courts. Montreal, one of the fastest, I won a couple of times.

Depends if I am playing well. Then I can play well in all of the surfaces and all the conditions. If I am not, I cannot play well in no one.

But the history says that this tournament works well for me, you know. I played a lot of semifinals here, winning three times, and played a final a lot of times in the semifinals.

When that happens, that means that the tournament adjust well to your conditions.

Q. You are involved in your academy, and then raising next generation young kids. As a top player currently playing now, how does it benefit you as a player playing in the field competing very hard with other competitors and, at the same time, raising, you know, next generation in your academy? How does the two get together?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am not teaching them. You know, I am just try to give them some advice when I am there. You know, I practice with kids in the academy a lot of times, almost every day when I am there, and I just try to give them some advices and tips when I am practicing with them, no?

But I think we have a fantastic team of coaches, coaches with a lot of experience in this world.

For me, is a big privilege and happy to have the chance to have an academy and have the chance to create the plays that the kids can feel very comfortable there. They can study, they can practice at the highest level possible, I believe, with the best coaches possible and with the right people around, no?

And we try to do things the best way that we can. For us, it’s so important to educate well them, to give them the right values for the future, and at the same time, try to practice at the highest level possible to try to have the kids become professional tennis players.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. This is Rafa’s Fan Club – why talk about Nick K, who, in my opinion, is a bad tempered, foul mouth, rude, unsporting, Ill- mannered guy.. Keep focused on gentlemen n role models like Rafa n Roger F. 😀😊😇

    • WADR, we are now in mid-July but you are responding to four-month old comments.

      RAFA ROCKS 150%

  2. I have every faith in Rafa and strongly belief that he will do his homework and come out victorious in Miami. Let Roger have his moment of glory. If he plays Rafa in Miami he will not be so lucky.

    • Novak made a statement about having to ‘improvise and compensate’ for his injury since last year. This is the world Rafa has been in for a long, long time. Rafa does not need lessons on how to play his game – he knows. He is limited. We can see the changes in Novak. There is only so much improvising and compensating you can do.

  3. Indeed! : ) I have been dying btw, to write “:OLD FARTS” for ages now…. I have seen these bias men sitting tensely watching Final after Final with dismay expressions on their wrinkly faces each time our GOAT RAFA came up with a brilliant point. God bless him! He is immune to all their poor conduct. The good news is that Rafa is made of solid foundation and he is a beloved person not just a TENNIS GOAT….. and so his core will, determination and love for Tennis surpasses all the bs – that is how he had managed to come up victories over the years and continues to be a TOP PLAYER everywhere he goes !!!!!! : ) We all experience OFFISH days, offish moments …..no big deal……the greatest gift he has is that he moves forward with his blessed strong Tennis. His Tennis Academy is another brilliant contribution to the sport. His Tennis schools in India are so precious and KUDOS to him for sharing his blessings in such a giving manner. His dear mom and family in general, are all great accomplished people and his path continues to be bright as the sun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) Our entire family is into TENNIS big time, and we recognized Rafa’s brilliant talent from the moment he stepped onto the court as a Junior. We always loved his over all classy game, discipline and sportsmanship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )

  4. Oh fan love that was a clip from last year that sky have just shown as the two Pablo’s were delayed in playing their quarter finals. Is that what you’re referring to? Apologies if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

    • To clarify, much like others here, I sincerely hope Nick K. ends up with a bright victory!!!!! : ) YASOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) He can do it!!!! With continued measured play and calm, his Tennis is fearless and he can come up with a great victory & be the last man standing tall !!!!!!!!! : )

  5. Ahhhh thanks Maria – I will have a little look. I have to say I used to feel sorry for nick as I initially thought he must have had some mental health issues and then I thought he was just downright nasty. But I’ve surprised myself during this tournament as I’m beginning to quite like him. And I never ever thought I would say that. But as maria siberia says…..hmmmmm we’ll see. Thanks for giving me a summary of what rafa said after the match too. I’ve not had time to look yet.

    • Add me to the mix voting for a Nick victory !!!! : ) I agree, Nick does have amazing talent, drive & fearless game! Plus he seems to be as good as any player with his court conduct….so yes….go Nick go !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) .

  6. Thanks Fan Love

    I have NOT been commenting for a few months but just reading the posts and comments daily. I get very territorial where RAFA is concerned, and just reading helped keep my emotions in ‘check’. Ha Ha.

    Well, I am going back to being ‘quiet’ and rooting for our guy.


  7. Gutted for Rafa ,but I have to agree with him totally that Roger played better and on this occasion deserved to win .Roger said after the match that he thought there was something wrong with Rafa, whether this is the case or just a minor blip we will have to wait and see. Rafa is still sounding confident and has said . Today I didn´t play my best, but I am really confident I gonna play well in Miami. Let’s hope carlos Moya is the saviour we think he is. Susie if you want cheering up go online, you will find a clip of Kyrgios in his doubles match yesterday offering a man in the crowd his towel for some of his chips . I’m starting to see what Andy can see in Nick . Good luck tomorrow Nick

  8. Here in Indian Wells, it is apparent that the media has done all it can to tout Roger, but he was able to execute. As we witness, all players experience a slump
    for numerous reasons. Rafael is not a quitter, and the coaching change is a big
    one, regardless of how it is downplayed. The player schedule is brutal; there is little down time between tournaments. There is a new venue, time zone and climate. Even younger players are opting out with nagging injuries. The deeper your run, the less recovery time. Excuses do nothing, but when Roger and Rafael
    are not competing, the stands are depleted. Good luck to them both💪👏❤️

    • ****this is a great Rafa fan spot….. thanks for the good work of this site : ) : ) : )
      ps btw, : I AM THRILLED GOFFIN JUST WON & sent W to the curve in TB !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : )

  9. Dear Rafa & TENNIS Fans : I agree with many sentiments written here, let me simply add: There are many conniving ways roger fed conducts himself… last match just before match began, princess suddenly with out verbal heads up to Rafa, princess through a tactic of jumping over the NET to the other side of the net, and Rafa was rather surprised by it. YES……roger often is taking MTO but taking MTO when loosing in a major final at the AO is just one….!!!!! : ) We all saw him being defeated the entire AO FINAL. All this bs that princess roger is admired etc….is simply an air puff , and what appears to be rather obvious is that he is getting a free ride on the “rivalry” with Rafa – catching a free ride on Rafa’s world wide global fan popularity!!!. roger was a non factor ever since our beloved RAFA NADAL came along and pushed him aside mercilessly. If you all recall, suddenly, a year or two ago, atp decided tor revive roger because they witness Rafa merging back full force and drive on his racket to TOP FORM, and on his momentum to obtain more Majors. So regardless of tour politics, ill poor discrepancies and right out horrendous poor bias draws, whatever bs is happening, does not change the fact the RAFA NADAL IS THE GOAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) roger always seem to be so goodies too shoes and licking all the right corners….and in reality, got a huge free ride on Rafa;s come back last year.
    Reviewing this past match, the over clapping seems questionable. The over loud clapping when roger made a point seemed totally artificial to me….the IW crowd was always with Rafa and I would not venture to say for 100% certainty, but it seemed to me in reviewing the match, that the loud clapping appeared to be prerecorded and added onto the actual live crowd. Many IW fans love Rafa and rooted for him all the way. So the loud clapping for roger appears to be out of place.

    I totally believe in RAF’s TENNIS and determination!!!!!!!! I KNOW TENNIS and I KNOW RAFA IS FAR BETTER, STRONGER PLAYER than old princess roger. I must admit, I regret ever saying too much about the atp favoring princess in the AO final because it may have hurt Rafa…seeing all the old farts from tennis past rooting for princess could not have helped either.
    Naturally, I meant to bring this up because I am frankly tired of seeing the vast discrepancy and in that AO specifically, how princess roger got an extra day rest over Rafa. That is outrageous on a MAJOR FINAL. !!!!!!: ) THEREFORE FOLKS, when I say out loud that Rafa won the AO I mean it !! I do not care about the score or the trophy. I looked at the AO replay and saw how much better Rafa played, his court command during the entire match, and what devious sneaky tactics princess roger applied with the MTO and no reason challenging other thn to catch his breath. roger was cooked and fried inside out. That is why I was deeply moved to write that lengthy anti princess tactics. Furthermore, as others have mentioned, roger must know dame well he is not earning his wins square and fair as other TOP PLAYERS on the tours as long as he is continuously being pampered over other top players. It is NOT OCCASIONALLY TRUE…..it is with more often than not the case. So whilst I am not regrading having brought up all the bias practical observations , the timing of expressing and writing just a night before the AO match was poor. I am sorry. In reflection, the best thing any of us fans can do is ONLY EMPHASIS POSITIVE BLESSED ASPECTS OF RAFA’s GAME, character and sheer blessed will and passion.
    We love you dear Rafa !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) Your Tennis brings massive amount of joy to Tennis fans world wide!!!!! We are well aware of the of behind the scenes mountains you always had, and continue to have to clime just to remain a champ. But so it goes. Nothing new. You are so naturally gifted sweetheart, and your beautiful character and sportsmanship stands out high and might. Have a great fun preparing, practicing and enjoying everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) Lots of love & happiness to you & THE TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!: )

    VAMOS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: )

    • Hey Fan Love I know how you feel – that’s the anger talking. I laughed my head of at ‘seeing all the old farts from tennis past rooting for princess’ but this is a certain truth. I’ve always wished I kept a closer eye on the commies, what they said and who they were because they, as members of the ATP surely do hold biases. Unfortunately, who they are never interested me much. One, either during a Rosol or Soderling match dared say that the player didn’t mind losing to Roger because he respected him but not Rafa. Recently, one said Nishikori probably found it hard to play Roger because of the Japanese attitude of respect (probably the same idiot). What utter BS. No matter how many times Rafa won they did not give him any praise – Roger was always the better player. It has been these views that have fed the media and fans to believe Roger is the goat. As another fan said recently, it comes from the middle class elitist tennis traditionalists that Roger appealed to and that would never accept Rafa. The same people that have kept tennis a marginal sport. These dinosaurs should have been rooted out years ago. It was reported that tennis viewing went up 100% since Wimbledon 2008. The dinosaurs would do well to remember who has kept them in a job.

      • As I mentioned to Beverley the other day, Rafa has probably drawn more people to tennis than any other player. Like so many others, the first time I saw Rafa I said he is someone SPECIAL. I made it a point to follow him.

        With Rafa it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t change a thing. So glad I was channel surfing at that very moment.

        RAFA ROCKS

      • Me too Margo. I was caught by the boy in long shorts at Wimbledon 2008 having never really watched a tennis match in my life. I don’t doubt that the respect Rafa now has is because of the ridiculous amount of money he has made for tennis tournaments and the tennis world generally. Unfortunately the fully fledged members of the Federer Fawning Society still seek to put him down at any opportunity. One said recently, the seconds it took him to serve he will never get back on his life. RG has never suffered this disrespect. I’ll be glad when he retires because I will exit the tennis world with him. I don’t believe it’s been particularly fair to him.

      • Fan love and Teresa, I agree with your comments wholeheartedly. The media, the tennis officials and most of the retired players seem to belong to the “middle class elitist traditionalists”
        of whom Teresa spoke. They rave over Roger’s on court grace and elegance ,which he certainly has, and it is obvious that Rafa’s style of play does not appeal to them.
        They then remind us that Roger speaks several languages. So what.? Most European players speak at least one other language in addition to their own native tongues and English. Rafa is quite fluent in Italian and speaks two other Spanish dialects – Mallorqui and Catalan – as well as English of course. But this is never mentioned.
        I hate it for thinking this way but I have never thought Rafa has been given the respect and recognition he deserves by those in power, and he has been given so many bad draws over the years that although they are done in public one cannot help wonder what has gone on behind the scenes before hand. .
        I hope this does not seem like ” sour grapes ” because Rafa lost yesterday because my sentiments here are those I have felt for some time and wondered whether ir was just me but evidently there are others who think the same..
        Rafa has so many fans. Just looking at his practice sessions there are so many people watching one could think a match was in progress.
        His facebook and Twitter followers are in the millions.
        His Academy appears to be a great success .
        He has so many sponsors because they evidently are aware of his enormous popularity among the general public.
        I, and his loyal fans, will support him forever win or lose but I do feel that yesterday his loss was a case of, as Rafa said himself, “he played better than me.” And he did.
        I congratulate Roger on his win He play beautifully and made it look so effortless.
        Best of luck to our Rafa in Miami.


      • Thanks Beverley. I have also thought this for years and expressed it many times long before 2017! So have many other fans. It has only taken 2 consecutive wins over Rafa for the fawning to start again as though this somehow negates Rafa’s record over him. Rafa can beat him throughout his career on every surface and yet Roger remained placed on his very wobbly pedestal. Why? because the ATP want him there. The language thing you mentioned is an obvious symptom of the prejudice and snobbery against Rafa. Both Rafa and Novak have achieved more in a much shorter space of time and far harder era than Roger. Neither have the same recognition.

        Rafa has 12 million on twitter compared to Roger’s 6 but Mats Wilander thinks it’s OK to say on national TV that Roger has more fans. Commies are also bringing up Rafa’s time to serve during irrelevant matches such as the recent Davis Cup tie between Serbia and GB. How strange? Just to illustrate a point, Richard Gasquet said last year in an interview that if Rafa hits a cross court forehand they call it strength. If someone else does they call it skill. Thankfully, the majority seem unbiased or, at least, well behaved, saying they are two of the best of all time.

        I have attached a link to an article on the subject which I think you will appreciate.


      • Teresa, thanks for the article you recommended to me re .Rafa and Roger at the end of your post March 17 1-43 a.m.. Interesting reading with some good points raised.

    • My God. Are you writing a book? This is so bad and I have the impression you don’t like Roger or anyone that beats Rafa. Grow up Fan love. Why don’t you use your real name. You don’t have to write long comments. Good luck.

Leave a Reply