Transcript of Rafael Nadal’s presser after he won 80th ATP World Tour title in Toronto.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. First of all, Rafa, welcome back to Toronto. Great to have you again. Four night matches in a row. You got off the court last night after midnight. 4:00 p.m. match today. What was your recovery process and how did you turn it around so quickly?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no recovery process, no? Was another match yesterday, and the only thing that I slept less hours than normally. But nothing new, no?
And, no, have been very positive first set for me today. I think I played well. Probably the best first set or best set on the whole event for me.
And then in the second, the match became a little bit more maybe boring. You know, we were not winning a lot of points on the opponent’s serve. And then arrived the moment that I had to close the match, and I played a horrible game, no?
So, yeah, after that, he started to play better. I got a little bit tight and nervous, and then he had a set point in that second set.
So, yeah, very happy to have this trophy with me again. It means a lot. Have been, yeah, a fantastic week, very positive one.
Q. You mentioned how you were cruising along through the first set into the second set. It was 5-3, I think, and your opponent was serving 30-15, and then a fan called out and interrupted his serve. He went to the umpire and looked for a let. You kindly, graciously I believe, said take a first serve?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah.
Q. Yes, which is incredible. At that point, momentum started to shift. In what way did this interruption shun affect your level of play?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, that didn’t — yeah, no. I don’t know. That’s what I felt at that moment. Maybe I was too nice in that moment (smiling).
Yeah, I don’t know. I think — I think that’s it. It was a single point, only point. And I lost, and then he served a huge first serve and win the game and then I played a horrible game.
But what happened in that point don’t have any impact about the game in the 5-4. In the 5-4, I get nervous. I am completely human person. I get nervous and I miss it. And that’s it.
After that, I accept the situation. Just fight back and try to stay positive. That’s what I did. And in the tie-break, I played a little bit better again.
Q. This is your fourth title at this tournament. That’s the most titles you’ve won at any hard court event. What is it about this tournament that works so well for you and your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: I really don’t know, but it’s true that worked very well.
And in terms of victories and time that I played in Montreal and Toronto is a big success. Because it’s true that I missed a couple of times this event in Canada, no?
So great news. It’s a tournament that I won four times, but I played other good tournaments too.
So Canada is a tournament that is a place that I feel comfortable. I play well. That’s it. And I played with the Canada colors during the whole event.
Q. Stefanos was in here earlier and he said that he learned today how much of a gap there still is between his tennis and yours. Can you tell us what you saw about his game that you liked?
RAFAEL NADAL: He has everything. He has a very complete game. Big serve. Great shots from the baseline. He’s brave. He’s young. He has everything.
And is always the same. If he’s able to keep improving, and the normal thing is he will do it, he will be fighting for the most important titles of the world of tennis immediately.
Q. Can you talk about how you surprised yourself this week coming from holidays and how of your level improved throughout the week?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think the competitive spirit have been very high. High level of competition for me.
The level of tennis haven’t been that high during the whole week, but I found a way. And in the important moments, it’s true that I played with the right determination all the time. Well, not today in the 5-4.
But is true. Suffering, without playing sometimes the best tennis, I managed to win a very important title, no? So that’s very, very important for me.
You know, I always say the same. Win when you are playing fantastic of course is great and is so important. But it’s easier. So be able to manage to win a lot of matches when you were not playing that well, and especially in big events, that makes a big difference. So this victory have a bigger value for me than others.
I played today probably the best match of the tournament for me. It’s true that during the tournament I have been improving since the beginning.
Yesterday the second set especially, I started to play much better in my opinion. And against Cilic in the third set, I played better, too.
So I think that the process was completely normal. But at the same time, the good thing is the process have been quick and positive because I was able to find a way all the time.
Q. I might have jumped the gun last night when I asked if you were going to play in Cincinnati, so I’ll ask again if you have made a decision? Are you going to play for sure? Also, have you changed the way you think about your scheduling after late last season you played through some knee issues and then the obvious injury in Australia. So have you changed the way you’re going to do things?
RAFAEL NADAL: Being honest, the danger in Australia is an accident, but is an accident because it’s not an injury that I had in the past.
But at the same time, being honest, probably the injury comes because I finished the season bad. I finished the season with a lot of problems in my knee since Shanghai. Then I had to retire from Paris. I had to pull out from Basel. I retired from the world tour finals.
So then I had poor preparation for the first part of the season. I had to miss Abu Dhabi, Brisbane. I didn’t practice as much as I would love to do it in Mallorca before the season start. So then I had two tough matches and then it became a problem, muscle problem. So is all about preparation.
But that’s it. Of course, I am trying to do the things the better way possible to try to avoid this.
Tennis is a high-demanding sport in terms of physical effort. But it’s true I cannot forget that I am older every year. And if I want to continue playing for a long time on tour, I need to save energy. I need to choose the right places to play.
And especially the results are positive, you have better chances to choose. If the results are not positive, you have less chances because you have to keep playing. But if the things goes like this, I am full open to do the schedule the better way possible to try to play as long as possible.
Q. You’re playing in Cincinnati?
RAFAEL NADAL: I cannot answer you now.
Q. Five years ago you won Toronto, Cincinnati, and the US Open. Great years. Can you do it again physically? To win all three?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. Is not — for me personally it’s not the moment to think about that. For me just having this trophy with me means a lot. It’s a very important moment for me.
As I say to him, I can’t answer the question. I really just finished, do pictures with all the staff here. I need to come back to speak with my team, to speak with the people who are close to me and really make a decision about what is going on in the next week and the next couple of weeks.
So let’s see. There is a tighter too because we have the Davis Cup semifinals after the US Open. So we need to think about the things that we can do or the things that about we can’t do, no? So it’s all about the decisions.
As you know, I only want to play. I want to be everywhere. I love this sport. I don’t like to miss events. But at some point if I don’t stop for myself, my body stop me. So that’s the experience that I have.
So I have to talk with the people who are next to me and make a decision about the next week and about the schedule until the end of the season.
Q. What does winning your 80th title mean to you today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is not about the 80th title. It’s about winning another Masters 1000. It’s about winning the tournament here in Toronto, Masters 1000 of Toronto. That’s the most important thing, no?
The 80th tournament is of course great number, important one. Very happy. But it’s about another Masters 1000. Masters 1000s are tournaments so difficult to win, sometimes are even more difficult to win Masters 1000 than Grand Slams because you can’t avoid tough opponents. And that’s it.
And today I achieved one tournament that I came here with the goal to win it. But I really know that going to be a very tough one to make it happen and it happened. So very happy.
And just thanks everybody for the support. Have been a very positive week in terms of energy too. The support of the people have been so high and I really enjoy it a lot.
Q. Stefanos’ quote throughout the entire week was “It never gets easier. You just get better.” You’re someone who continually gets better and is arguably one of the best. So do you see truth in that statement?
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat it?
Q. “It never gets easier. You just gets better.”
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I think things are not easy, never, at all even if you are very good. Even if you are not that good. Of course, if you are better, better player, you have better chances of success.
And my way to understand my career and this sport in general is if my career already is for 16 years, during this 16 years, I am sure that I lose things when comparing when I was 18 or 19 years old. So if I lose speed sometimes, if I lose this energy that when you are younger, we need to add other things on my game.
So it’s about always improving. So if you want to keep having the same success than you had 10 years ago, you need to add things to your game. So that’s why I wake up every morning, as I said a couple of times, go on court.
And I don’t understand go on court to practice. I go on court to improve something. That’s the way that I understand my career, the way that I understand the sport. Because I really don’t find for myself a motivation to go on court without the goal of try to do something better. So that’s the way that I understand this.
And when arrive the day that that not happens, that’s going to be the day that I take a boat and I go to go fishing. That’s it.
Q. You’ve now had one full tournament with the 25-second clock. I wonder what your thoughts are going through it now? No big deal or thoughts about it in either direction, good or bad?
RAFAEL NADAL: No problem. As I said before the tournament, I personally don’t like but not because goes against me.
The problem when I talk sometimes about this kind of stuff it’s because the people think that I have the benefit because I am a slower player. No. I can be faster, but I like to think. That’s the thing. I understand the sport. Not like a thing that the things go fast.
My experience in the world of tennis at the matches that became part of the history of our sport are not matches that the duration of the match is one hour thirty, you know? No one match that the people remember in the history of our sport are matches that the final duration of the match are two hours. You know, that’s the real thing.
So the match that the people remember are matches that epic, the matches that the people gets involved. And my experience is I don’t see the people get crazy and involved in the match when the ball, all it goes two or three times over the net every time. I see the people goes crazy and enjoy and feel the passion for the sport when you have rallies of 15, 20 balls.
And that’s my feeling. And when you have continuous rallies of that kind, you can’t be ready physically to play another point like this in 25 seconds. That’s my point of view.
But the rules are going another way. For me personally, don’t affect me. I just need to go faster. I go faster. And I accept and try to do the thing the better way possible, and I did it during the whole week. That’s all.
It’s not about something that goes against me. When I say it, it’s something that I believe for the sport is better another thing. But as I always say, it’s only my personal opinion. The people who runs the sport have a different opinion, and I 100% respect. And maybe they are right and I am wrong. That’s all.
But the clock, if the umpire are able to use it the right way, it’s good because gives you plenty of time. Because they call the score, then they put the clock on.
And if the umpire have a little bit of knowledge about the things, how long are the point, they put the clock a little bit later, I think the clock don’t affect at all. It’s just something that is there and is a good thing. If the clock goes straight, it’s going to be a negative thing.
But in my opinion, the umpires during the whole week are doing a fantastic job. They are managing the thing very well, even better than without the clock. So well done for all of them.
Interviewer question: “You’re someone who continually gets better and is ARGUABLY one of the best.” What an insult. Either the person misspoke or the transcription is wrong.
Rafa is INARGUABLY one of the best. And it is not an opinion, it is a fact. “One of the best” is supported by number of Slams; Masters 1000, times as world No. 1, records he has broken, being the first to accomplish something. There is no argument about Rafa being one of the best.
Had Rafa understood what this knucklehead said I hope he would have responded “No, I am inarguably one of the best,” or maybe “Don’t you mean “Inarguably?”
RAFA IS INARGUABLY ONE OF THE BEST
Rafa’s comment about the clock was lengthy. I feel he has no need to further explain what his opposition was as he has already done that many times.
I have read articles and comments from those who claimed the clock would work against him but Rafa countered that argument by saying it would not affect him because he won’t be playing that much longer. The clock would affect the new players coming up. Rafa is ALWAYS looking for ways to improve and support his sport. And it takes a big person to admit maybe he got it wrong. After reading his comment I get the feeling he either didn’t have the details of clock usage or how good it would work in practice.
I am buoyed by Rafa’s reversal about the clock. I too had misgivings.
He said he thinks the umpires did a fantastic job all week, that they are managing better than without the clock. I think he will feel more at ease if he doesn’t see it as something negative. Let’s hope the umpires at his future tournaments are as professional as the ones in Toronto.
Felicidades a el mejor tenista del mundo
y claro que VAS A GANAR el US Open 2018!
Thank you RNF for posting the transcripts. I’ve not been able to find the videos of the conferences – so much appreciated.
Just love this human person😍😍😍
How come nobody asks him about Moya, who’s been absent in recent times?
Moya and Roig simply made a deal last year even while Toni was there. Roig travels with Rafa in Sunshine Doubles, Wimbledon, American series (except US Open) and Asian swing, Moya will go for the rest. Sometimes they both travel with Rafa like in Madrid this year.
That’s not a problem. Roig is a very good coach with tactics. He was the one who helped Rafa with his combo slice backhand + forehand down the line which destroyed Djokovic on HARD COURT back in 2013.
The only problem now is Rafa’s first serve percentage is really really bad. If Rafa faces a good returner like Djokovic or Federer it’s gonna be a problem.
I still think that he needs to hire someone to help him with this aspect but oh well…
Glad to hear Roig get the praise and recognition he deserves. Rafa is lucky to have two great coaches on his side. Moya deserves a schedule that balances his family life, and if that’s what will keep the ship sailing effectively for everyone, then I’m totally behind it.
I agree with you about the first serve. As well as it being an issue in itself, I feel that it drains Rafa’s confidence when crucial serving games arise – see the second set 5-4 service game v Tsitsipas – and that is almost as big an issue; that Rafa gets tight and feels he can’t rely on it.
Can you imagine a Rafa with a Federer first serve?! Not enough shelf space in the world for those titles XD
Let me just add to your response. Unlike many other coaches, Moya lives in the same place as Rafa. Therefore, he spent time with Rafa at the Academy the week before. Carlos will be at the USO. I also read here that Rafa added another person named Salva to his team. He also serves as a hitting partner for Rafa. Yes, I admit that I would like Carlos to be there with Rafa, but Uncle Toni was not always with Rafa. Lastly, let’s remember that Rafa is 32 not 23.
Rafa Congratulations for your win.
Love and prayers,
quel joie ! merci Rafa
Charmingly honest, as always. Credit is given where it is due. Thank you for wearing the Canadian colours. I have watched your practices, and it is true,
they are almost as gruelling as your matches! Your commitment to and passion for the sport is legendary. Ask anyone-when you are absent, a tournament is diminished. It is a privilege to witness your play🙏Gracias, Rafael🥇🇪🇸
OMG! I am sooo happy! I know Rafa wasn’t playing his best during night session but somehow Rafa the bravest warrior made it!
I am also happy that he made the right decision this time SKIPPING Cincinnati for the best shape for US Open.
Good luck Rafa and Vamos!!!!
So happy for you <3