Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his third round victory over Karen Khachanov.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. This was a difficult and grueling match. What resolve you put into it both physically and mentally to bring you to this achievement.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, have been tough one. I went through some very difficult situations. But, yes, he played well. He’s improving always. He’s young. He has everything. He’s a great player. I really see him winning a lot of matches in his tennis career, no? He has a lot of good things. He has a great future to come.
Yeah, for me personally, of course, it was a physical, demanding match. It was a mentally demanding match. That’s why we practice every day, to play these kind of matches in a great atmosphere in front of an amazing crowd.
Yeah, very happy to be through. Very happy to have the chance to play again.
Q. How is your body feeling right now, especially your knee?
RAFAEL NADAL: Just something that I felt, but I try always during the tournaments don’t speak much about these kind of things. When the tournament is over is better and easier to talk.
But my personal feeling is I going to be at my 100% for the next one.
Q. Last year, although you won the championship, you didn’t seem overjoyed with how you played. It was maybe as much the fire in your belly and your heart that brought you to the title. How would you say you’re playing this year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I played two good matches to start. Especially the second one. First one happened what happened.
Today, I think I started the match great, but then I didn’t have the break. He was serving huge. Yeah, I believe that there is some margin to improve. But I really hope that this kind of match helps. These kind of matches make you feel confident, make you feel stronger. At some point you need to go through some tough moments.
I didn’t play Cincinnati, so this kind of match maybe can be a little bit of the key for me to keep going. If physical issue don’t affect for the next couple of match, the next match, I believe not, I really hope I going to be 100% for next one.
I think this match helps. Win these kind of matches going through some very tough situations, lot of moments on the match, helps a lot for the confidence, and helps to understand how you have to play for next match.
Q. You came out after the rain break and won two games. You seemed to be standing a bit closer to the baseline. What did you do in that break? Was it a chance to refocus?
RAFAEL NADAL: I just trying to calm myself for a moment. Is true he was playing well. But for me, the most important thing is have the right tempo when I am playing. For some moments I felt things were going too fast in my mind. I didn’t take the time to do the right steps, to go to the ball with the right decision, with the right determination, with the right timing.
I think in the fourth, I played my best tennis of the match. Then in the 5-4, I can’t say I played bad, but I went to the net a couple of times, and I did mistakes there. But my personal feeling in the fourth set, I was more under control in terms of the overall game. I think I played a great tiebreak.
Q. You won two tiebreaks tonight. When you play a tiebreak, do you have a different mental attitude at all or do you treat it exactly the same as any other point, any other game?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, nobody treats the tiebreak as any other game. Is not the same when you are serving for the match and when you are playing the first game of the match. If somebody tells you that, probably is lying you (smiling).
The feelings are there, the emotions are there. I just try to play the tiebreaks aggressive, try to in some way have the control of the points. Let me explain. Just try to feel that I decide the tiebreak, no? I can miss, I can play well, that’s what happened, but try to be myself, that I take the decisions and determinations. Today worked well.
Q. You have said you acknowledge you didn’t play your best game. What does it do for your confidence when you don’t play your best? Does it shake your confidence or does it build your confidence because you were able to prevail?
RAFAEL NADAL: In terms of my personal game, wasn’t my best match, but was not at all negative all the things. I did a lot of things well. Couple of things that I have to improve. But these kind of matches helps. I am honest with you, no? These kind of matches, if your body feels well for the next one, these kind of matches helps. You played a lot of time, you know, you get used to play under tough moments under pressure.
Actually, the two tiebreaks I played I think well. Is true that in the 6-3, I missed a couple of balls in the first one, but is part of the nerves.
The determination was the right one. The impact on the ball was better in that moment on that one than before. In general terms, I’m happy the way I played the tough moments. The spirit of fight I think was good.
At the end of the day is a great victory against a very tough opponent without playing at my highest level. But it was a great show, I think. Great entertaining. The crowd enjoyed I think.
Personally, even if it was not my best match, was not bad feelings, was a good feelings. Have the chance to have this connection with the crowd here in Ashe again. I work every day for this.
Q. What was your thinking after you lost the first set?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have to win the next three (smiling).
Yeah, sport is not very, very difficult. Just realize what I was not doing well to change that situation. As always, for me, like a player, you know, I am not a machine playing tennis. I think. I just try to find solutions. I just try to analyze what things are going not well, what things are going well, how I can improve the damage on the opponent. That’s what I am trying to do all the time, no? That’s what I did.
Sometimes you think, but the execution is not perfect. A couple times I tried to go inside with the forehand, and I was not creating the right impact on the ball.
The good thing, in my opinion, I taked the right determination of playing more aggressive in the important moments. Worked well.
At some point I have to say congratulations to Karen, too, that he had a great attitude on court during the whole time, playing 4 hours 20, fighting all the time, playing aggressive, playing great tennis, having some mistakes at some important moments, too, but without saying not a bad word. That’s a great thing for tennis, and that’s a great thing for him. With that attitude, I am sure he will have a lot of success.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports