Rafael Nadal on Andy Murray’s US Open withdrawal: “You retire on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon, not Saturday morning”

Abbie Parr/Getty Images 

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Difficult first set but then you seemed to find your rhythm and pace and got through it pretty easily the second two. Talk about the match and where things began to turn for you.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, tough beginning of the match. Some nerves, obviously, after a week here practicing well, I think. I was practicing, I think, every day at very high level, no? Today I didn’t play at that high level, but just like this, important thing is I won, and I have one more day to keep practicing and another chance to play better the next day, no?

Yeah, the important thing is win, because is normal that you have some nerves at the beginning and you get a little bit tight at the beginning of the tournament. So important thing is be through, and that’s what I did today, no? Tough start but then I played better, of course.

Q. It was very noisy under the roof. Does it disturb you? You have to adapt your game to the noise?

RAFAEL NADAL: Being honest, is a little bit too much (smiling). You know, I don’t know how to control that or the umpire have to control that, because, yeah, at the same time is not fair only say that. The real thing is here, the energy and support of the crowd is massive. I enjoy it and I have unforgettable memories from this tournament and this court, because the energy is different from in other places.

But at the same time is true that today, under the roof, was too much (smiling). Too much noise, no? I was not able to hear the ball when you are hitting, no?

So I don’t know. I understand it’s a show, at the end of the day, and I enjoy that. I feel part of this, of course, but under the roof, you know, we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise, in my opinion, no? Because all the noise stays inside, and this is difficult, no? With the roof open, feeling change a lot.

Q. What are some of your thoughts about the defeat in Cincinnati? Did it affect any of the things you worked on during the week in between?

RAFAEL NADAL: The losses always affect. The victories always affect, too, in a positive way. That’s part of the game.

And the player who is telling you another thing is lying to you (smiling). I not gonna be this kind of player. My approach to the tournament obviously is still positive. I have been playing well during the whole season, and I really had a very positive week of practice here. 

So I am confident I am ready to play much better than what I did today, and I believe that I gonna do it. But always is tough, as I said before, the beginnings. What happened in Cincinnati was normal. At the same time, is an event I never play very well there, only one time in my career.

And that’s it. No, no, is impossible to play all the events of the year playing semifinals, final, winning. That’s not possible, no? And even more at the age of 31.

So I just happy about all the things, how the things are going during the whole year, and now here I am in the last, most important event of the year, and I am excited about playing well here.

Today I won. That’s the most important thing for me. I believe that I am ready.

Q. When you say everything went well in practice, do you mean you were playing much better than previous weeks, Canada and Cincinnati? Are you even more surprised maybe of this first set?

RAFAEL NADAL: I feel that I am practicing much better than what I did in Montreal and Cincinnati. That doesn’t mean that you’re gonna have a great result, but the real thing, the feeling is much more positive.

Then, of course, at the beginning of the match, he played well. I didn’t. As I said before, that’s part of the nerves a little bit, and you need to win matches, no?

Today was a match that I won, and I have another chance the next day. I need to be ready for that, and I hope to be ready for that, because I really worked a lot.

Q. Barcelona obviously is a very important city in your country, and it’s been a very important city in your career. You have won there 10 times. They have named the court for you. A while ago there was that terrible incident there, and then a very strong response against that. My question is: What were your feelings about that incident? Can you comment what you felt about when you heard the news about what occurred in Barcelona?

RAFAEL NADAL: That’s now affected to us in Spain, in Barcelona. Before was Paris and London, New York a few years ago. It’s happening. It’s happening very often, and when happens closer to you, seems that’s more important.

But at the end of the day is important everywhere, because some innocent people are suffering and a lot of families and people are suffering, so is terrible.

Yeah, I was there in Cincinnati, completely destroyed, because, yeah, you don’t feel safe, no? And it’s very difficult to manage, because there is a lot of ways to create pain. Is difficult or almost impossible to control. Just to be together and hopefully some day that gonna stop.

Q. You have been here many years now. Wondering if you could tell us from a competitive standpoint what’s easier in your 30s? What is it about playing now in your 30s? What’s easier?

RAFAEL NADAL: Easier?

Q. Yeah, than perhaps in your 20s.

RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing is easier. Everything is easier with 20 (smiling).

Everything. But, yeah, it’s different part of life, different part of my tennis career. And I enjoy it, all the parts, no? Even when I had injuries, I enjoyed different things. I was able to enjoy family and home and friends and my beautiful island, Mallorca.

And today, here I am at 31. If you tell me I will be here with 31 being No. 1 of the world, especially, seven, six, ten years ago, I will not believe you, so I try to enjoy every day without thinking much about what happened or what can happen.

I just go day by day, week by week, and I am happy doing what I am doing today. I don’t know what gonna happen tomorrow, and in terms of my tennis career, I not thinking much. I’m not worried about when arrive the day that I have to say good-bye.

I believe that, of course, tennis is a very important part of my life but not everything. I have a lot of things that makes me happy in this world, not only tennis.

I believe I gonna be happy after tennis. But, of course, today I am excited doing what I am doing, and if the health and the motivation allow me to keep doing, I gonna be doing as long as I can.

Q. Going back to the noise under the roof, you said that they need to keep things quieter. Do you think the chair umpire needs to make more announcements or have signs, asking for people to be quiet?

RAFAEL NADAL: Don’t create history about that, no. I don’t want to be the one that says is too much noise, no?

But is true that there is ways to try to control a little bit. Especially under the roof. Without the roof, I think that the show and the atmosphere here is difficult to compare with in other places.

But under the roof, the noise stays a lot inside. So that’s to fix a little bit. The USTA make an amazing improvement for the fans, for the players, for the TVs, for everybody with the roof, and now they can make it even a little bit better if they can control a little bit more that.

Q. Tactically, is it you can’t hear when the opponent hits a ball, how he hits it?

RAFAEL NADAL: Is tough. Is tough. Because if I not wrong, and you can check on the TV, sometimes I say to him stop with the serve, and he was not able to hear me. So you can imagine how much noise you feel out there. So difficult to analyze how the ball is coming when you are not hearing very well the sound of the opponent’s ball.

Q. I believe your uncle is giving up his role as your coach at the end of this year. How important is it for him to be involved this fortnight with you? Do you have any plans with involvement with him after this year’s Open?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I didn’t talk with him about that. Actually was his decision. Was not my decision.

I believe that if something changed in his mind, probably he will come and tell me. That’s the real thing. If he didn’t tell me nothing about that, I believe that he is still thinking what he said months ago, and at the same time, for my academy, he’s unbelievable, great news that he gonna be there full time.

Yeah, for me personally, I cannot thank him enough for all the things that he did for me in my life, so just happy to see him here with me and gonna be with me until the end of the season, and then is something that not worries me much, but of course I have to talk with him one day.

But most important thing for me is I am happy; he is happy. Happy if he is happy, because more than my coach, he’s my uncle. He’s part of my family and very important person in my life.

Only thing that I want for him is that he’s healthy, happy, and enjoy the family and kids that he has, three, and two small ones. They are playing tennis, too. So probably he has his motivation, too, with them, not only with me.

Q. Did you get a chance to talk with Andy before he left? Were you surprised to hear that he pulled out, given that you were here and practicing?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, no. I saw him when I arrived here, and I was just saying hi to him.

But I always thought that he gonna be playing if he was here practicing, no? Was a little bit strange that he retired just the morning after the draw was made. Was something that is a little bit strange and difficult to understand, but the worst thing is, yeah, he is not healthy and I wish him a very fast recovery.

Injuries are bad for everybody. I know better than all of them (smiling). So I wish him fast and good recovery. That’s the most important thing.

Q. Strange in what way?

RAFAEL NADAL: Strange in what?

Q. You said his decision was strange, the timing of his decision was strange. What do you mean by that?

RAFAEL NADAL: Strange? Yeah, of course. Because normally when you retire on — was Saturday morning? And the draw was made Friday? Normally you want to keep practicing, keep trying until the last moment. You don’t retire Saturday morning. You retire Monday morning or Sunday afternoon, not Saturday morning.

If not, you can do it before the draw. That’s why I say it’s strange. But of course he has his reason, and for sure the negative — the only news and the negative news was that he will not be playing here.

Q. Can you just talk about how is it different under the roof here than at Wimbledon and also Australia? Is it as noisy in those places? It’s a problem across the board?

RAFAEL NADAL: What?

Q. It’s a problem every place?

RAFAEL NADAL: Not that much (smiling).

Q. So it’s a problem here, not there?

RAFAEL NADAL: More, yes (smiling).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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32 thoughts on “Rafael Nadal on Andy Murray’s US Open withdrawal: “You retire on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon, not Saturday morning”

  1. Marileena

    I’ve been at the U.S. OPEN for the past 4 days.. Rafa’s practices have been strong … His team has been dedicating a huge amount of time to his forehand and the rest of practice equally between his serve, backhand and net…His nerves are getting the best of him both in round 1 and 2 with so many unforced errors that he’s putting himself behind a set until he steadies himself to go after his opponent in the 2,3,4 set… He needs to come out stronger from the get-go…Saturday, he should do well against Mayer… This is a crazy OPEN this year with so many big names dropping like flies. Roger is unsteady on his feet too as he’s been going 5 sets each round…. If R and R can get through the next few rounds ( and they should) their semi final should be awesome with Rafa on top…. And then, hopefully, a US OPEN victory could be RAFA’S and we all will be celebrating with him!!! VAMOS RAFA!!!!🎾

    Like

  2. Margo

    Rafa’s third, fourth, and quarterfinal possible match-ups, Gasquet, Berdych, and Dimitrov respectively, have all been eliminated. So much for the draw.

    DelPo made it to the third round today. I wonder if there is another Nadal-DelPo final final in the making.

    RAFA ROCKS THE US OPEN

    Like

      1. Margo

        Yes, I don’t know if it was Čilić’s abductor problem that may not have completely healed, or that he hasn’t done any court activity since Wimbledon, or that Schwartzman simply outplayed him. If Schwartzman makes it to the semifinals, I will have a hearty laugh at the expense of those who could talk only of Schwartzman’s height. He recently beat Thiem [8] at the Canadian Masters, and now Čilić.

        By knocking out Čilić, I agree that Diego has opened up the lower half of the draw. It guarantees that a new face will be one of the finalists, according to reports.

        RAFA ROCKS THE USA

        Like

  3. Margo

    Rafa’s next opponent, 24-year-old Japanese/American Taro Daniel [121], has a lot more in common with Rafa than meets the eye. They both live in Spain, speak Spanish, and train in Spain.

    When Taro found out he would play Nadal, he thought “Oh God.” He also expressed hopes that “Rafa wouldn’t come out with all guns blazing.”

    Like

    1. hearn fiona

      Interesting Margo, I did not know this player lives in Spain. They have the advantage there of practising early under the sun. 😀 Fiona in Paris

      Like

      1. Margo

        He speaks English, Japanese, and Spanish and trains in Valencia. He is super excited to be playing Rafa but realizes it may be a little nerve wracking.

        Initially, I couldn’t find anything about Taro. Not even on the ATP site. Late Wednesday things started appearing on the Internet.

        My thinking is that any opponent of Rafa’s deserves a synopsis before their match like RNF does, especially if his opponent is not well known.

        RAFA ROCKS THE US OPEN

        Like

    1. hearn fiona

      Yes good, Zverev and Muller too. 😊Muller bt. by Lorenzi lower in the ranking, bravo, an Italian , especially after what Muller did to Nadal in Wimbledon. I wrote to Rafa in Spanish, fewer threats now. A surprise about Roger, pushed to 5 sets by this young Yank. Sorry for Gasquet in Paris. 😢 Fiona in Paris

      Like

      1. Margo

        I was delighted that Tiafoe took Fed to a fifth. I didn’t expect him to beat Fed but he did much better than expected. Fed said that the outcome of their match was a “toss-up.”

        I didn’t see Fognini or Gasquet as threats to Rafa. I did expect Kyrgios to go further, though.

        RAFA ROCKS THE US OPEN

        Like

  4. I think that Rafa was a little irritated that, due to Murray’s withdrawal, he and Federer didn’t get put on opposite ends of the draw, so that they would potentially meet in the final. Yes, I also find Rafa’s comment a bit strange, because nobody knows except Murray, the extent of the discomfort he is feeling. knowing Rafa, Hiwever, i’m sure he’s moved on from this talking point and accepted the draw for what it is.

    Like

    1. Margo

      RNF will announce the day and time for Rafa’s game. Many matches were delayed a day because of the rain. Rafa was lucky to have been scheduled for a roofed stadium.

      I am curious about what you mean by “weird reaction.”

      RAFA ROCKS

      Like

  5. YB

    I’m sure that millions of tennis fans agree with Rafa that the timing of Andy’s withdraw is strange. And he also said “but the worst thing is, yeah, he is not healthy and I wish him a very fast recovery.” To me, Rafa is always honest (telling the truth as is), and respectful.

    Like

    1. Margo

      I find Andy’s timing inconvenient but not strange and I don’t feel it’s about honesty on Rafa’s part.

      Rafa, like me, has no idea about the thinking behind Andy’s decision to withdraw when he did. Andy had been playing with a bad hip since he was twenty years old, according to reports.

      I think it’s “strange” that Rafa injected numbing agents into his wrist then waited until just before the third round to retire from the 2016 FO but yet, Andy didn’t call it strange.

      Rafa, more than anyone should know when it comes to pain, one day you’re pain free and the next day you’re in agony. Then the pain may go away for a day or for much longer only to return with a vengeance.

      As with any major orthopedic ailment, making a decision on how to tackle the
      problem can be daunting and scary, especially when doctors are not agreed on the same rehabilitative method.

      RAFA ROCKS THE US OPEN

      Like

      1. YB

        Rafa merely voiced his own honest opinion. I bet that many players feel the same way, just either not being asked about it or won’t say it out loud. Is it not enough that the media has sensationalized his comment?

        Like

      2. Margo

        Not a good argument as the media will sensationalize anything that will increase readership. Rafa started the controversy by calling Andy’s withdrawal “strange.” I just don’t think it was professional. He easily could have voiced his opinion by saying something like “usually…bla bla…” or “the rules call for…”

        I can’t speak for other players but any criticism they have could have been discussed among themselves. Not publicly. Cilic may be pleased because he benefitted the most.

        Like

  6. Margo

    I had hoped I was wrong in my thinking but today there is a media frenzy about Rafa’s pointed criticism of Andy pulling out on the morning following the draw. And I thought they were friends. And I wish he’d stop saying something is “stupid” when he disagrees with something. Doesn’t look good at all.

    The following list is not exhaustive.

    Eurosport: “Rafa Nadal questions ‘strange’ timing of Andy Murray’s withdrawal.”

    The Telegraph: “Rafa Nadal pointedly questions timing of Andy Murray’s US Open withdrawal.”

    Metro: “Rafael Nadal questions Andy Murray’s US Open withdrawal.”

    The Mail: “Rafael Nadal questions Andy Murray’s late decision to quit.”

    RAFA ROCKS THE MEDIA

    Like

    1. Debby Kleinberg

      So your thinking changes because media does their frenzy? Rafa said what everyone thinks, that he should have done it previous day. That is obvious. That since he didn’t, wierd he didn’t try to practice until match day. It f’ed up the draw, obviously.
      He also said most important is that his friend is hurting. And that he knows how awful that is. So why cherry pick?

      Like

    2. Rahul TN

      Rafa spares his thought for Murray. He considers him his kin. And Judy Murray once said,’We owe Rafa a lot, ‘cos he was d one who got Andy into serious tennis’. No enmity btwn them.

      Like

  7. mjus

    nadal has no right to complain he himself withdraw late from wimbeldon in 2009. This comment is more about him facing federer in the semi finals. He doesnt want to face the swiss which expose his fear for the swiss and his own insecurity

    Like

    1. Debby Kleinberg

      He didn’t complain, he gave the obvious answer, which is that it’s strange he didn’t do it Friday. Which it is. He’s not an arrogant narcissist so it wasn’t about himself.
      He expressed concern for his friend and again reiterated that he knows what it’s like.

      Like

  8. Elizabeth Howard

    Totally agree with Rafa, the draw was made on Friday and Andy withdrew on Saturday. Surely he should have known that he nothing would change in less than 24 hours. Why not give himself until
    late Sunday or early Monday to make the decision.

    I think that Andy was selfish in doing what he did.

    Like

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