Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his win over Guido Pella in Paris.
Q. What do you think of your start of the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: My start?
RAFAEL NADAL: Normal start. Not perfect, because I start at Love-40, of course. But I saved a game, so that’s all. 2-All. All the matches are difficult, no?
Q. Your forehand got better as the match went on. When it plays like that at this early stage, do you feel like you’re getting to the level you want to be at as the tournament goes on?
RAFAEL NADAL: I’m just going day by day, and I’m happy about the things that happened this afternoon, of course. I played a solid match, and it’s true that when the match, during the match I improved the level.
The forehand, especially after the first set, I think starts to go quicker and finding more the right spots, playing more inside the court and hitting much more winners, no?
So in general terms, I have to be happy, no? It’s of course great result is 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. Is not possible without playing well.
So just happy for that and happy about the concentration that I was able to hold all the time the right focus on the match to keep doing the things better and better.
Q. Can you describe this relation you have with Richard Gasquet outside the court? Richard said you are good friends from long time now. Can you give us some example, please?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have a great relationship with him always. Since we were kids. We met each other first time when we were 12. First thing is he’s a very good person, no? He’s a very normal guy. We practiced hundreds of times together. He came to Mallorca.
Yeah, is one of the guys on the tour that creates good atmosphere. He always has a positive attitude. Not creating no one problem and being a normal person, no? I like him a lot.
And, yes, will be a good match against a good friend in the most important place in my career, and for him a very special place, too.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the rule that they have implemented this year at the slams where if someone pulls out before the first round they take half the prize money. You know the rule? Now they give fines for players who actually play the first round and then retire, kind of like Mischa Zverev or — he didn’t retire, but they said it wasn’t a best effort in Australia, and here Gojowczyk as well.
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry, the second part I didn’t understand.
Q. They give a fine to a player who plays the first round and either gets killed, you know, knowing that he was sick or something, or if they retire. Gojowczyk, in this tournament, he was fined. I just want to know, isn’t it tricky? Because they are kind of assuming the intention of a player, that a player step on court knowing he’s sick or that they get sicker? You know what I mean? Just the thoughts on the rule.
RAFAEL NADAL: Being 100% honest with you, I think is a good rule, because there is a lot of money on the slams. For a lot of players, that they are inside the tournament of a Grand Slam and they have a physical problem in that week, just playing tournament helps a lot to save the year. Because it looks very nice on the prize money, but then you have to pay tax, then you pay coaches, then you pay all the travels. And every year the expenses are high. So the amount of money that we are — is not that much comparing what the prize money says. I’m not talking for myself, obviously. But for a lot of players be inside a Grand Slam tournament is a big help for keep surviving, no?
So I believe is fair that if they are inside and they have the chance to retire than keep winning the money is win to win, no? The tournament wins because there is no bad players or sick players playing, and for them, he deserve, because he made the right things to be there and he deserve that prize money so they still get it.
And at the end of the day, is the decision. Even when you’re retired, you can take the prize money or you cannot. That’s the position I was in Acapulco, I retired, I was inside the draw and they asked me if I wanted the prize money and I say no, because I believe it was fair enough that I don’t need that prize money so the player who was in has to win that prize money. He deserve, he was in, no?
But is good that you have the decision, because then if you go inside and you retired, is not nice for nobody.
Q. When you were 26 or 27 years old, if someone told you that you could be this good at what’s going to be 32 in a couple of weeks, would you have laughed? Would you have believed them? Would you have thought, I’m not going to play at that age?
RAFAEL NADAL: The real thing is I don’t think that much about what’s going on, because you cannot predict the future. So I just enjoy the things that are happening, and at the age of 25, you ask me with 32 I will be here, I will say probably not. Probably I will be fishing or doing other things.
But here we are, and I am very happy to be where I am, and I am, you know, very happy to keep playing tennis at my age, because I heard all my career I will have a short career because of my style of game. So it is something I am very satisfied and happy that after all the troubles that I had in my career in terms of injuries, be able to keep being competitive for so long, and at the age of 32, almost, be here playing and being competitive, no?
So is great news. I enjoy. I cannot say for how long, and is something that I said a lot of times, not worries me. I’m happy doing what I’m doing but I can be very happy without playing tennis, too. But tennis gives me a lot, and I’m just enjoying all the experiences that the tennis gave me a possibility to enjoy.
Q. If it’s possible, I’d like to have your reaction about Zinedine Zidane’s decision. As you know, maybe, he decided to quit Real Madrid.
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course was a surprise for everybody, no? But at the same time, Zidane is a top person. He’s a person that is tough to accept that he’s leaving for different things, different reasons. First thing because he’s a great coach and he was having a lot of success with our team.
Second thing, he’s a good person, normal person, humble person. He represents, in my opinion, the right values, and he’s a right, a perfect example how somebody with a lot of success have to do the things of every day with being normal, being humble without saying negative things about the players, about the club, about nobody. Never, I never heard, referees, nothing.
He was always fine and smiling on the press conference. Even when the things were not going well this year, that was so difficult moments. At the end of the year, he won the Champions League and nothing happens, but during the year has been a very tough year during the year for the team.
He always have been positive and believing on the players and on the club. He deserve to choose what’s better for him. For my side, I just can say thanks for all the things that he did for Madrid. I hope will be back. And like sportsman and person, just thanks for the right examples that he gave to the rest of the people.
Q. We are asking to some players who Roland Garros was in order to celebrate him.
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry?
Q. Who Mr. Roland Garros was. In order to celebrate him. Do you remember who he was?
RAFAEL NADAL: I cannot remember because I didn’t meet him (laughter).
If I not wrong, he was an aviator. That’s it (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.
Q. I’m going to start with Richard, and then if necessary, we’ll come back to the match. Today in the press conference, Richard talked about the match you had in 2005 and the fact that there was a new generation coming up and that he remembers the end of the match at that time that his father had said that you were going to win many times. Do you remember that match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I do remember. It was a special match, and we had played in the semifinals in Monte-Carlo. We both represented the new generation at the time, and it’s true that both we had grown, more or less, at the high level in all categories.
He was doing a bit better than I was. He was a future French star. That’s why there was a lot of expectations from the match.
As he said, and as I have said before, he’s a good friend, a normal person, a very positive person, a person who presents no problem, never creates a problem. I appreciate him very much. I have seen him many times. He came to see me in Mallorca.
He’s a good guy. He’s honestly a person who is always positive. It’s always nice to be with people like that. I have always been at his side whenever he had a problem. I always defended him, because he’s a healthy guy. He’s a good guy. And he’s a positive example for many people.
Q. Yesterday Dimitrov said that sometimes when you get your limit, you can’t go further. How do you know when you get to your highest level?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, how do you know when you’ve reached your limit? I’m not asking you, but that’s my question. He said this, but how does he know he’s reached his highest level? You can’t know, because how do you know it’s your highest level? Maybe mentally you can improve, but I think it’s a bad way of facing your objectives. If you think you can’t improve because you have reached your limit, it’s not the right thing.
Well, you can improve small things, and small things at this level can lead to great things. So I don’t agree that some people have reached their highest level. Everyone can improve.
And the greatness of the players who have managed to win over the years is the fact that they have been able to renew themselves, they have been able to adapt their tennis. And it’s not necessarily — it’s a question of improving on a daily basis, and also it’s true that with the years you lose a few things. I can’t run as well as I can a few years ago, but I still continue competing. I have lost some things on the way, but I have compensated with others.
And I think this famous limit doesn’t exist because we don’t know where it is. But there is certainly a limit, but I can’t think there is one because I don’t know where it is. I don’t know. We can’t decide where it is.
Q. Continuing with this, could you tell us what you intend to improve this year, what you’re improving?
RAFAEL NADAL: To be honest, I always try to improve the important things. For example, my backhand, be able to open more directions, more winners, but in particular this year, it hasn’t been the right year for that, because I haven’t been able to practice almost.
I had to leave aside the first tournaments of the year. And in Australia I only practiced week before the tournament, and then I couldn’t play. Then the week before Acapulco, once again, I couldn’t play. The thing is that every time you have to start again. And in Acapulco I hurt myself again, and I don’t know if you remember but I played in the Davis Cup and I hardly got there. I didn’t even know whether I would be able to play and I didn’t have much time to practice.
So it hasn’t been a typical year. I haven’t had much time to practice. But when I practice, I always try obviously to improve.
But tomorrow I’m going to practice, for example, with the idea that today my backhand didn’t open the court sufficiently, so I have to — there are things that I have done better or worse. I have done some very positive things. I have served better.
But, for example, I feel that tomorrow I’m going to practice on this, because it’s my daily work to talk with my coach, to the coaches, and to set the objectives that change every week.
So I get up with objectives, but mainly with allusions and desires.
Q. You gave a very good answer in English, can you tell us in Spanish again about what you felt about the resignations of Zinedine Zidane.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I read the news. I was a bit surprised logically, because he had said that he wanted to continue, from what I had heard, and, as well, I don’t know. As I said in English, it’s a day which is not a pleasant day for the family, because he’s a great person. He’s a person who has done a lot of good in the club, and he’s a person who, apart from being one of the best coaches in the world who’s had an incredible success, first as a player and then as a coach, he’s a person who’s always carried an exceptional behavior all along, and even as he’s leaving he’s a normal person. In difficult moments he always wears a smile. He never criticizes the referees or the players or the club.
Last winter when things were going very badly, as it was the case in Madrid, he never complained. He just trusted his players. He went at least to the outside world. I don’t know what was happening inside, but he always showed trust and respect for everyone, and he accepted the sport for what it is: a sport. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. And there are good and bad moments. This is the way it is.
And the only negative thing is that he was a man who was important for the club. He represents a lot of positive things for society, a very good example for young people and for society in general. So it’s a bad thing he’s leaving, but let’s hope, as the president said, let’s hope that we will see him again soon.
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