Here’s why Rafa likes and admires Serena Williams

Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his fourth round victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you think you it was more difficult against Khachanov or today? What was the difference?

RAFAEL NADAL: It was difficult the other day. Today was an advantage on the score all the time. The other day was against all the time, you know. Set and break down. But was a difficult match, of course. Yeah, I lost the third set I think playing a good tiebreak. He played better.

The beginning of the third was the only thing, because I had Love-40 and probably was that moment that I needed to push a little bit more and close the match, because with that, yeah, I missed a forehand down the line in that Love-40, but was a bad decision that forehand, no? That was the moment to put all my senses to that point. Because with two sets to Love, 2-0 serving, big chance of 3-0 probably.

The match was almost close and then the match became more difficult.

Q. On big stages like this where you have had success in the past, what is more important to you when it comes to dealing with the pressure?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, just play well, you know. At the end of the day it’s not about pressure, not about this kind of stuff.

I have been in that position a lot of times in my career. Is always about playing well. If I play well, other things I can manage it well.

I am in the second week already. That’s a positive thing. Well, I arrived in the quarterfinals in all Grand Slams. I didn’t make it since 2011 that, so that is a positive thing. 

Now is the moment to make the next step, step forward, play more aggressive. I did a lot of things well during the whole season. Is the moment to make it happen again. I hope to be ready to make that happen.

Q. You heard of the plans for the new Davis Cup? What do you think about it? Is it a good idea, in your opinion?

RAFAEL NADAL: My opinion is that I am in the quarterfinals of the US Open, and Davis Cup, for me, personally, is not the moment to talk about Davis Cup. We have plenty of time to talk about the Davis Cup, and I gonna, after tournament, we can talk about it. Thank you.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Serena Williams. What do you think the length of her career means for the sport?

RAFAEL NADAL: Means for the sport? I don’t know. I think you have to ask the fans and you have to ask yourself, the media, everybody who takes a real opinion on that, no?

Of course, Serena is, yeah, probably the best player that I ever seen on a tennis court on the women tour. Well, I saw Steffi, too. I liked a lot Steffi, too, when I was a kid. But both of them have been great.

And, yeah, is good to have somebody like her playing at this age, after being mother. I think well done for her, because that demonstrate the passion she have for the sport. That’s the good news.

Q. When you won this tournament in 2017, you were returning from way back in the court.


Q. When you won this tournament. You were returning from where you were standing way back to return.

RAFAEL NADAL: In the final? All tournament?

Q. Now we see a lot more guys starting to do that. Could you just talk a little bit about why you like that stance? Just what you think of more players now also doing it.

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t like that stance. I like the stance that works better. Depends on the moment of the match, depends on the opponent. Nothing is the same. Is not the same in 5-4, deuce, is not the same 2-All, first point of the game. Is not the same you play against Isner or if you play against another player that serves worse.

It’s just part of the game, and what I like is have the possibility to do both things and do both things with good chances of success. Then I have the chance to choose what’s the best option. Depends on the moment.

Q. And what do you think of other players also doing it, because some of them have said they saw you doing it?

RAFAEL NADAL: Everybody is free, whatever works better for them. I don’t have an opinion. I have my personal opinion and I answered why I do. I return maybe five meters back sometimes and sometimes I return inside. Then the others gonna have their own opinion.

And as I said, the most important thing, you have the chance to do both things, return aggressive inside and return from the back. Both things are working well. If that’s a cushion, is the right one.

Q. You play Dominic Thiem next and you have played him many times in the past few years. In what ways have you seen him grow and talk about your guys’ rivalry?

RAFAEL NADAL: He’s a fantastic player. He’s a very powerful player. He’s a great guy. Very good relationship with him. Happy for him that he’s in quarterfinals here. Last year he lost a very tough match against Del Potro here.

Yeah, in some way he deserve to be where he is. Gonna be a tough one. He’s very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kind of matches. Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament.

Q. I’d like to ask you about the US Open championship trophy. How heavy is it, and how does the memory of lifting it stay with you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Is not very, very heavy. That’s a good thing.

Another good thing is that when you win the US Open, the trophy that you bring back home is the same as the original one. The other tournaments, especially the Grand Slams, they make a copy, but very small (smiling).

Q. How does the weight of that trophy stay with you through the year in terms of motivation?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, the trophy is in my museum, no? We have a very beautiful museum in my academy, and important part of the profit of the museum is going for my foundation, and it is in a good spot.

The US Open trophy is just next to other Grand Slam trophies, and in the museum we have a lot of things, beautiful things, historic things of the world of sport from different sports. Happy that I can have a place like this in my academy. Yes, excited.

Q. Your hands are very strong. You have arms that are very massive. Legs, very powerful. The individual parts of your body, aside from your mind, what do you think is your greatest strength and maybe sets you apart from other players?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, my body is how it is. I really never worked much doing a lot of weights on the gym. I do more prevention, and, of course, I do other things that I have to do.

Yeah, I never worked too hard with that weights, no? The body, for me the most important thing is to feel myself strong enough to hold the pains that I normally have. So that’s why I work every day, just to try to have the right body to hold the problems that are coming.

For me, the most important, of course, the knees are so important. But if I have to choose one important part of the body, is abdominal and back. That gives you the possibility of stabilize the rest of the body. Have that part of the body strong and fit, you know, makes the right balance on everything.

Q. Back to Dominic. This is the first time you’re playing him on hard court. Does that make any difference for you since he’s maybe the only top-10 player that you haven’t played on this court yet?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, is a different kind of match than clay, but is still a tennis match. Is different thing, but in some way, I know how he plays. He know how I am playing. Gonna be interesting one, tough one, hopefully for both of us. And hopefully who will play better, will have better chance. That’s all.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. Felicitaciones Rafa eres el mas grande tenista que he logrado seguir desde hace mas de 15 años.
    Tu fotaleza mental y fisica es lo mas grande nunca te rindes.

  2. Stupid questions, as usual and Rafa’s great ability to keep them honest as usual, with his truthful and straight forward answers. They always try to put words in his mouth and mis-quote but uncle Toni’s teachings at a very young age taught him how to deal with all of that. I love how Rafa manages to do that. Another one of his, less physical–more mental and thoughtful skills. ❤️

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