Transcript of Rafael Nadal’s final presser in New York.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Congratulations. Such a great summer for you. Two Grand Slam titles. We all know these numbers. If you can reflect on what it means, 31 is not old, but as you said, it’s not as easy as your 20s. Can you reflect on this year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Very happy, no? Been a great two weeks. Increasing level of tennis, increasing of confidence during that two weeks. Yeah, I have this trophy with me again here in New York. Means a lot to me, no? There is no better way to finish the Grand Slam season for me after a very emotional season in all aspects.
So very happy the way that I played, happy the way that I managed the pressure, and the way that I was competing during the whole event, no? Playing better or worse, the competitive spirit have been there in a very positive way all the time.
Q. I don’t think I have ever seen you as calm as you were tonight in a Grand Slam final, even in the first set, there were a lot of deuce games, a lot of break points. I mean, when you didn’t win them, you didn’t seem frustrated. There was no body language. How did you get so calm?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I was not calm, no? I was nervous, but all the body language that is not in a positive way is stupid to make it, because it’s going against you, no?
Is one of the things that I tried to do all my life that the body language helps me, not go against me, no? Because is one of the things that depends just on me, not on the opponent, no? Was not the day to have negative body language. Completely the opposite. Just to accept all the moments.
You know when you play a Grand Slam final that you gonna be nervous, you’re gonna miss probably some opportunities with break points. I missed a couple of returns. He played well. But that’s part of the game.
I have ready to accept all these moments and to, as I said before, to compete well all the tournament.
Q. If, at the beginning of the year, they had asked you if it was more probable that you win two Slams or Roger Federer wins two Slams, what would have been more improbable for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: I answered these questions a couple of times. No, no, no. When you start the season, for all the players is tough to win two Grand Slams. That’s the real thing. For everybody is tough to win at least one Grand Slam. There is only four chances on every year, and there is a lot of players that have chances. There is a lot of tough opponents out there. But somebody have to win Grand Slams too, no?
Q. After what happened last year…
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, what happened last year, I tell you what happened last year. I was ready to win Roland Garros last year. That’s the real thing. I don’t say if I don’t get injury, I will win Roland Garros, because is something that is impossible to predict, but I really and honestly can tell you that I felt myself ready to win Roland Garros, because I was playing well. But of course when you get injury, then seems like the season is a disaster.
But the real disaster of last year was the injuries. Because the level of tennis, when I was playing after Indian Wells, was good in almost all the events, no?
Of course is something difficult to imagine eight months ago or nine months ago that we will be winning two Grand Slams each.
But here we are, and just can say thanks to life for that opportunity. I think I did the right work. I believed on the work, on the diary work all the time. I still believe on these things to improve, and I wake up every morning with the passion to go on court and to try to improve things. Probably that’s why I still have chances to compete in this sport and to do it well. That’s all.
Q. With what you went through last year and what you have accomplished this year, how do you think you’ll remember this year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, of course is a very special year, no? Couple of years without winning Slams, couple of years with problems. 2016, 2014 have been years that I had injuries and tough ones in the middle of the season, so that’s impossible to recover in the same year. And 2015 was not injuries, physical injuries. Was mental injury (smiling).
Yeah, was tough year for me, but is true 2015 I finished playing the year great again. So was a year that helps.
But of course after couple of years without competing at this very high, high level, very happy to be back and emotional year for you, and as I said before, no, just can say thanks to all the people that helps me every day. I have a great team and a great family that supports me and believe in me, and that’s a great help. Without them, of course is not impossible but almost.
Q. One of the things that happened this year with all these surprising events that your rivalry with Roger is again big news, and you’re very close again in a Grand Slam count. Could you just say how important this is to you and just the rivalry in general, but also, perhaps, catching and surpassing Roger in that regard?
RAFAEL NADAL: I really never thought much about that. I just do my way. He does his way. Let’s see when we finish, no?
Of course if I will win two Grand Slams this year and he will not win, we’ll be closer, but it still happens one more year and he has 19, I think. I have 16. So three is big difference.
I really don’t think much about these kind of things. As I said before, I do my way. I’m very happy with all the things that are happening to me, win this title again. I have this trophy with me.
Is so important, winning on hard court again. That’s a lot of positive energy for me. Being healthy, you see everything more possible, no? With injuries, everything seems impossible. But being healthy and have the chance to practice well and compete well, everything change.
But is true that I have 31, I don’t have 25, but I still have the passion and the love for the game. I still want to compete and still feel the nerves every time that I go on court. Until that things keep happening, I will be here.
When some day arrives that I don’t feel that nerves or that extra passion for the game that I feel, will be the day to say, okay, I do another thing.
But that’s all. No, no. Well done for Roger that he is having an amazing season too and well done for me because I’m having a great season too. Let’s see what happens until the season and that’s it. The rest of the things — tennis is not all the Grand Slams, so there is tournaments to come and I’m excited about this last part of the season.
Q. Does that mean the rivalry isn’t as important to you as some people make it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course this rivalry have been important for our sport, in my opinion. That involved a lot of people, and because of different styles, different characters, and we played for the most important things for such a long time, I think that was the great promotion for our sport. In a positive way, I think, because our relationship has always been very respectful, and friendly.
So, yeah, is great. I feel happy to be part of this rivalry, but at the same time, I played even more matches with Novak than with Roger in such important matches, too.
In my career, I have been involved on different rivalries. I feel lucky to be part of all of them in some way. In another way, I have been in an era that three players achieve 19, 16 and 12. That’s a lot, no? There is a remarkable part of the history of our sport. So that means was difficult for everybody to win titles in this part of the, in this era.
Q. Do you know for sure whether you’ll need a new coach? Your uncle is retiring.
RAFAEL NADAL: I have three coaches, so… Still two without my uncle.
Q. You will go forward with two or you don’t know?
RAFAEL NADAL: Toni, I think he gonna stop and gonna put more attention on the academy. That would be great for my academy, and will be great for the kids.
Doesn’t mean that never — that doesn’t mean that Toni will not travel anymore never. No, no, I believe that will be stupid to say that.
But of course he will not be in the diary of my practices and of my travels. I have two coaches already after him, that is Carlos and Francis and let’s see if I need something else to helps, but I think in my academy, I have enough people to help, and I happy with the team that I have.
Q. You didn’t face a single break point the entire match. Was that more you or more Kevin?
RAFAEL NADAL: As I said, always is a balance of everything. Kevin was trying to play aggressive during the whole match. I think I was serving solid until the last two games that I was more nervous and I served worse.
The rest of the match I think I served solid with good percentage and having taken advantage all the time, no?
I don’t know if is him or me, is a combination of both things always, no? But I think I played the right match, the match that I have to play. I put a lot of balls in. I let him play all the time, and that was my goal, no? To try to have long rallies, to try to have long points, because he will try to play short.
But of course if the ball is going over the net couple of times helps, because he gets more tired. He’s taller. His movements are a little bit worse than my ones. That was the goal for me, no, to take advantage and try to move him. Is long match, best of five, so that helps probably a little bit more me than him, playing best of five than best of three.
Yeah, the first set was important for me, of course, after a lot of games that he had chances to lose the serve. He was holding, and finally he missed that forehand with the 3-All. That changed the rest of the match, because if you get to 5-All in the first set or tiebreak, playing against a big server like him, you are in trouble, no? But having that break before and keep going and convert the set, first set was so important for me.
Q. Can you talk a little bit more about how significant this title is? Because it is on hard court, what it means.
RAFAEL NADAL: For me is important because is the US Open (smiling). More than if because is in hard or doesn’t matter the surface. I win one of the most important events of the year.
Is true that I was not winning titles on hard for some time, but as I say the other day, is not that I was playing bad on hard. I played the final in Australia. I played the final in Acapulco, final in Miami. Ready to win titles. Didn’t happen, is true.
It happened today. So very happy for that, and the US Open is an amazing event. The energy that this city and this court brings to me is unbelievable, no?
I feel very connected with them, and I enjoy the passion that I feel in that court.
Q. Congratulations. Great performance. I do want to ask you, in relationship to Roger, he came to your academy last November to help open it. You were ranked 9 and 17, and now you have gone on to win all four Slams. Does that surprise you in some way? And secondly, what do you think the call is that you both have that have been there to lift our game and to be so strong for so many years?
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course I am surprised. I was surprised in January. Now I am not that much surprised, no?
You know, I tell you, no, after the first two, three months of the season, of course you see that I am playing well, and if I am playing well on clay, I normally gonna have my chances. Of course he was playing great, so of course he will have his chances on grass and on hard later, like he had here.
So, yeah, of course is surprise some time ago. Now a little bit less. And there is just two things that probably we share, that is passion for what we are doing, passion for tennis, passion for the competition, and the spirit of improvement all the time.
Q. On paper this might not have been your most successful season, although it’s pretty up there, considering it’s only August. But compared to other seasons, considering all you have overcome with injuries, considering that Toni, this was his last season after 28 years, how meaningful has this year been and this particular tournament, as well, knowing it’s the last time officially you’ll look up into your player’s box and see him there?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think it was, in terms of results, was one of the best seasons of my career, of course. I have been winning titles, playing three finals of Grand Slams, so that’s a lot, no? That’s so difficult. The other slam that I was not in the final, I lost the match 15-13 in the fifth to be in the quarterfinals, no. So was very competitive year for me.
And on clay, I won almost every match. Of course is an emotional season because I have been through tough moments in terms of injuries.
But that’s like this. I think I always accepted all the challenges that my career present to me. The good news and the negative news, I accepted in some way in a very natural way, and I am a person that I don’t have much up-and-downs. I am a very normal person, and when I am in a negative moment, I don’t go very down. When I am in a positive moment, probably like now, I don’t believe that I am that good, no?
So I think I’m a natural person, normal person, and accept the things that life presents me. Try to go forward, no? That’s it. That’s the only way. When you are in a good way, be calm to have the chance to keep improving, and when you are in a negative way, just keep working to try to work on that situations. That’s all.
Q. Pete Sampras announced his retirement in this very room back in 2003, and the thinking at the time was nobody would ever really touch his 14 slams. Along comes a generation, three players that are now in double digits and two that have surpassed Pete. Can you talk a little bit about what makes this generation so special? What are the qualities, especially with the three of you?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was telling that when we were talking about Roger and me. I said, you know, there is another player, Novak Djokovic, has 12, and probably he will be competing for many more, no?
Yeah, a little bit similar thing that I answered before, no? I think we had the spirit of improvement all the time, passion for what we are doing, and we have been hard workers in general terms, because we were not playing with up-and-downs. We have been there almost every week for a lot of years. That’s difficult to make it happen. That’s difficult to find some players in the same generation that achieve all the things that we achieved.
Yeah, we are in an era that is not nice to say, because I’m part of it, but we are in an era that some players make incredible things in this sport, no?
Yeah, happy to be part of it, and I feel lucky to be part of it and enjoying the fact that I have been involved in some way in the two rivalries. That is amazing, no? Because I think nobody played more matches against each other like Novak and I and with Roger, because we competed for such a long time for first and second sport and competed for most important events, have been so special because of combination of styles, too.
Yeah, is great, and in the same time, have been a difficult moment to win a lot of titles, but in some way, we should be very happy, no? Because our three, we still won a lot of things, and probably even Roger and me or Novak even much more than we ever dreamed. We feel very happy about all the things that happened to us, and probably everybody, we feel lucky in some way.
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