Transcript of Rafael Nadal’s presser after the Zverev match.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. After the match at the Australian Open, were you perhaps expecting a more difficult match against him today?
RAFAEL NADAL: In all matches you expect a more difficult match, no? Especially when you play against a great player like him. Australia was five sets. Last year in Indian Wells was very close in the third. He had match point.
We supposed to play a tough match. That’s what I thought. Before the match, I thought going to be a big test for me, going to be a very hard match. I went on court knowing it’s going to be one of these kind of matches that if you don’t play well, you probably going to go out.
But I played well. I played much better than yesterday. I played more aggressive. I played with a very high intensity from the beginning. Playing much better with my forehand. Then I maintain that kind of level for all the match, I think. So that was the key.
Q. What is the difference from this match to the match of yesterday? What did you improve in your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: What I improved is easy to see, no? I played more inside the court, I believe. I played more aggressive with my forehand. My serve, even if the percentage probably was less, lower than yesterday, but the speed of the serve was higher. In all terms, I think I served better than yesterday.
I play with not many mistakes. Then the aggressive idea and determination was much better than yesterday.
Yesterday, first match on clay, I thought that I going to try to play a solid match without looking for a great things. But after the comfortable first set, the opponent decided to play very aggressive. Then you are in trouble, no? That’s what happened.
I know I have to play a different way than yesterday. In a good way or in a bad way, I needed to play better than yesterday. So I went on court with a good determination to play more aggressive, to play with high intensity. I did.
Q. Normally is not enough just to think you have to play better. But you were able to play better. It’s not easy to explain in 24 hours such a big change. Another thing is, if everyone is talking about Zverev as a future possible No. 1 in the world, today, especially in the first set, you destroyed him. How do you explain it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is easy to explain. I played a great match. Probably he expect another kind of match. Especially the first two meetings that we had against each other was completely different story. So probably he came on court with confidence that he will have a good chance today because he won already two matches easy, and playing a high level of tennis. I suffered yesterday. Probably was little bit surprise for him that I started with that high intensity, playing that well.
Then was probably little bit tough to accept for him the way that the result was going on. That’s why the last two, three games he played more aggressive than usual.
Q. We keep reading that the next generation is coming very strong, that maybe the changing of the guard is close. Do you feel they’re that close from the big four guys, or that the gap is still pretty wide?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, Zverev is a player that is in a position that he has all the shots. He has great serve. He has all the ingredients to be a top, top player. I really believe that he will do it.
But all the things takes little bit of time. I know that he likes tennis. He likes what he’s doing. He going to keep improving. Is just little bit more of experience, learn probably few small things that makes a big change, no?
But the real thing is today was not — we can talk about today was old, and because of that you can say the gap is bigger. Really the gap is not bigger, you know. The gap is not that big as the match of today.
The real thing is Zverev is ready to win against anybody, no? Before the match, I thought today is one of those matches that I really can lose. Then happen what happen. Great news for me.
If I play against him tomorrow, I going to keep thinking is one of these kind of matches that I can lose.
Q. You won nine times here. What’s special for you about this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: I love the tournament. Is one of my favorites, without a doubt. I always felt comfortable here. I enjoy from the first time that I played here in 2003.
And then, you know, to win so many times, a little bit of everything. a little bit of luck sometimes. Then is obvious that on clay for a few years – I don’t know how to say in English without being arrogant, because I am not arrogant at all – but I won so many things.
Is true that I won nine here. But I won nine in Barcelona, seven in Rome, and nine in Roland Garros. It’s not about this tournament. It’s about the surface.
For a few years I was making unbelievable things on clay. This is one of my favorite tournaments on clay, without a doubt.
Q. Today Wawrinka and Murray lost. Do you have a preference for an eventual final opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have a tough work to do, no? The final is two days. Very far. Tomorrow I play against a player that he won already three matches on clay. He’s playing at very high level of tennis. He going to be a very dangerous opponent tomorrow, no?
I need to be ready to compete at my highest level tomorrow to keep having chances to be through. Let’s see what’s happen.
Q. You mentioned 2003. I think you and Albert Costa finished really late. Do you remember that match? What do you remember about it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is a very, very long time ago. I really don’t remember much about that match.
But was for me the first big, big victory, no? Especially here in Monte-Carlo. Important day for me. I remember that I came here with good confidence because I was winning lot of matches before here, a final, then winning. I was in second round of the draw after coming from the qualifying, already winning one match against Kucera.
Was for me an opportunity to play against a big player. I think in that moment he was No. 7 of the world or something like this. Yeah, was top 10. So for me was a match nothing to lose.
Already played a great tournament. I went on court to enjoy and to try to compete well. Then I really played a good match. I had the opportunity. Probably Albert didn’t play his best obviously. I have the opportunity and I take it. That’s all.
THE MODERATOR: Last one in English.
RAFAEL NADAL: Is good, because when you say, Last one, never happens (smiling).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports