Rafael Nadal: “If I win, I will be more happy” [US Open: Semifinal presser]

Transcript of Rafa’s presser after the Del Potro match.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Juan Martin, wonderful opponent. Used the word dominate many times on how you handled things tonight. Talk about your thoughts going into the final and coming off such a dominant performance?
RAFAEL NADAL: Thank you. Important day for me. Important victory against a great opponent.

He came to that match with confidence after beating Roger, Dominic, too. A lot of the matches he played this tournament have been a tough one. But at the same time, I think I played a solid match.

After the first set I changed it a little bit, changed my tactic, strategy change a little bit. And that makes the difference, no?

I was not feeling bad the ball the first set, but I was wrong in the way that I was trying to play, no? When the match was coming, I started to understand a little bit better what I needed to do to try to be a little bit more unpredictable, because he was waiting for me in his backhand side.

He was not moving from that side, so, yeah, I have to cover full court. He only had to cover 60% of the court most of the time, no?

So was a big advantage for him. Then I decided to change completely to play much more forehands down the line, and then I was more unpredictable and he was more in trouble, because he didn’t know where to go, no?

He arrived much more times running to his backhand, that then when he arrives running to his backhand is completely different than when he is waiting the ball there.

And then, I don’t know the statistics, I didn’t see it, but I don’t feel I make many mistakes after that first set, and I really hit good winners. I served well. I served really well. In general terms, have been a great match. I’m very happy with the way I played.

Q. You played some great moments here. Also had some frustrating tournaments here especially in recent years. So, you know, you have people talking about Federer and maybe three Grand Slams coming in, and then Juan Martin gets the story going of his comeback. Is this a particularly satisfying one for you to be the last guy standing among these guys?
RAFAEL NADAL: I played well. I am playing well almost the whole season. So today was the day to play well (smiling). That’s the real thing. I was playing so-so at the beginning of the tournament, and I have been playing better and better every day.

Today was the day to play the best match of the tournament since that moment, because I gonna play against the toughest opponent in that moment, and that opponent, as I said before, coming with big confidence.

I wake up today and say to myself, Today is the day that I’ll play. I need to play with the right energy, and I need to increase the level of my game. 

And I know that. A lot of times I know that, and didn’t happen, but today it happened.

I felt that I was playing at the right level to win that match. And I did, and I’m very happy.

Q. You described your change in tactics. Did you think about that even before the match? In other words, did you go in thinking I’m going to test his backhand, test his backhand, and if that doesn’t work, then I’m going to have to open it up or was it a whole new idea during the changeover?
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course I went on court with the idea to hit more against his backhand, but at the same time, knowing that I have to play against his forehand, too.

Sometimes I was hitting balls in his backhand and things. So, hey, maybe I change on this one, maybe I change on this one, but I didn’t have the right determination at the beginning to make that happen, no?

So sometimes you need to lose or you need to see that things are not going well to really take that position and I made it. That’s what happen, no?

After losing the first set, I say if I keep going that way, maybe I going to be two sets against quick, so now is the moment to change.

And I changed and it worked well. Sometimes don’t work well. Today worked well, and I’m happy. I think I am with confidence. I am doing the right things, and my serve worked well. I don’t know the percentage, but I feel the last couple of sets have been very high percentage of first serves, and I changed a little bit the directions in the first set.

I think that I was serving too much against his backhand, too, and then I started to change the rhythm of the serve. That was very important too, no?

Most important thing is, after the first set, in my opinion, he didn’t hit balls in a row from good positions. That makes the difference.

Q. What do you think the most important reasons are for the way you’re playing this whole year and in this tournament after all the years you have been playing and the injuries that you have had?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. Of course I felt when I arrived to Australia that I was playing at very high level, but then you need to win matches. I was playing well, but then you need to do it in the competition.

Of course if you practice well and you feel yourself well, you have more chances to win matches in the events, in the tournaments. But this 20, 30%, that is a big difference. You only make this chance winning matches, because it’s about confidence. It’s about things that when you are on court comes automatic. You don’t have to think about what you doing in some moments, important moments. Things comes straightaway without thinking that much, and all these things happen only when you are in a good moment, in a good way winning a lot of matches in a row, no?

So of course beginning of the year, have been very positive, but clay court season have been unbelievable, no? So that helps a lot for my confidence, to be more calm and, yeah, I am here in the final. Is a great result for me already.

I will now remain last match against a very tough opponent, and I need to be ready for it. Is probably the most important match for me that remain of this year, so I gonna try my best to play my best.

Q. You were talking about the change of tactic. It wasn’t Carlos and it wasn’t Uncle Toni to tell you. Is it important that the player has a coach on court, as some people are suggesting, or you think everyone should do it on his own, individual sports?
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course was by myself, because people don’t talk from outside or cannot talk from outside, but is true that at the same time, I was talking about all the possibilities before the match with my team.

So I know the things that could happen, and I know what I have to do. Then of course is easy to say. Difficult to make it.

But I gonna say always the same. Is a little bit stupid that you have a coach traveling for you, with you during the whole season and practicing with you every day, and is a little bit stupid that in the most important moment, he cannot tell you anything (smiling).

In my opinion, will be good if — I don’t know if coach have to come on court, but would be good if the coach can talk.

Q. You had such a tough year last year. What would it mean to you to win two Slams this year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I tell you, for me what is more important, more than win Slams is be happy. I am happy if I am healthy and happy, if I feel competitive in the most of the weeks that I am playing, and that’s what happened this year.

So I am very happy about what happened, very happy to win Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Roland Garros. I am very happy to be in the final here in the US Open.

Of course winning or losing that final is a big change, but I am very happy about all the things that happen to me and I am going to fight to win another title here. But still a great season for me. And as I tell you before, for me, more than winning Grand Slams or not, of course, if I win, I will be more happy but is about being healthy and feel myself well and competitive. That’s already happened in the whole season.

So that’s most important thing for me.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. I have been at the US Open for the past 12 days watching every practice Rafa has had, attending every match… He has been so focused as witnessed in every match, playing up to the semis, his most incredible tennis! Today he will lift the trophy as we all cheer for our boy Rafael Nadal!!! Can’t wait to attend this match and cheer him on! VAMOS RAFA!!!! 🎾💛

  2. Watched the match and was more than happy Rafa that you changed your game plan after 1st set loss. Truly magnificent and so aggressive so very well done and best of everything for tomorrow, I can see you lifting the trophy for the 3rd time. Vamos

  3. Wonderful match. Coming out fierce looking all dressed in black….I knew then, Rafa is strong, determined and ready to go!!!! Happy for you and your fans


  5. Absolutely GREAT Rafa, you have done so well.

    All the best for Sunday,

    Love and prayers,


  6. RNF, there is a picture of Rafa and Kevin as youngsters on Twitter. Is it possible to post it here for the fans?


    • Margo, u dumbo. U just came across that pic. They were mates at the junior level. In 2015 AO, in the round of 16, when Rafa beat Kevin, the same photo was flashed. OK????

      • First of all, learn to address people respectfully. Your mother should be monitoring your internet activity.

        Second of all, please clarify your very complicated comment to me. Or was that a question?

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