VIDEO: Rafael Nadal’s press conference after US Open knee injury

Rafael Nadal speaks out after knee injury forces him to retire in US Open semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You have been playing so well throughout this tournament, how disappointing is it for you to end this way? When did you realize you were having difficulty out there as far as your health? Before the match or during the match?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I had some issues during the tournament. As everybody knows, I had an issue, it was in the second or third match. Then I think was little bit better.

But, yeah, I think was 2-All in the first, 15-Love, something like this in the first set, that I felt. I said too my box immediately that I felt something on the knee. After that, I was just trying to see if in some moment the thing can improve during the match. But no, was not the day.

Yeah, I waited as much as I can. You could imagine very difficult for me to say good-bye before the match finish. But at some point you have to take a decision. It was so difficult for me to keep playing at the same time that way, having too much pain.

That was not a tennis match at the end, no? It was just one player playing, the other one staying on the other side of the court.

I hate to retired, but stay one more set out there playing like this will be too much for me.

Q. How much do you think the five-set match the other night affected your knee?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, you never know. Maybe zero, maybe yes. I was not feeling worst of my knee today before the match or yesterday when I practiced. 

Q. Can you describe the pain in your knee in comparison to the other issues you’ve had with your knee?

RAFAEL NADAL: The knee is always very similar. When that happens, yeah, just accept it. That’s all. I cannot compare the knee with other times because the pain on the knee is always very similar when I have.

The problem is this time was something little bit more aggressive because was in one movement. Was not something progressive. So I don’t know what can happen in a couple of days or in a couple of weeks.

Immediately is much worst when the thing happened like this, immediately in a bad movement, than when is coming.

Q. Because of that, are you worried it might be a structural damage to the knee?

RAFAEL NADAL: Structural damage? What do you mean?

Q. That you actually did something inside the knee that hurt it, not just tendinitis?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. If I have more things, will be tough. So no, no. I know what I have. Similar thing than always. Just about do treatment. Is not an injury that tells you three weeks off and you are back. Is not an injury that tells you six months off, you are back. Is maybe an injury that in one week you feel better, is an injury that maybe in six months you don’t feel better.

I know what is going on with the knee. But the good thing is I know how I have to work to be better as soon as possible because we have a lot of experience on that.

I am sure will not be the six months off. I was just making a comparation [sic]. Is not an injury like when you break something, something like this. It is an injury that is a tendinitis. Then is a decision about yourself, about if you want to wait till you feel almost nothing or you want to keep going with pain, so…

Is not the moment to think.

Q. Of course you’re disappointed, but you have a great spirit and respect for Juan Martin. What does it mean to you to see him get to his first final in such a long time? His struggle has been very long.

RAFAEL NADAL: I can’t say that I am happy because I am not. I will not lie you.

But, yes, he’s a player that went through lot of issues during his career, like me too. I know how tough is this thing. I know how much frustration can be when you can’t do the thing that you want to do. He knows very well.

Happy to him that he’s able to be back in his top level. Yeah, wish him all the best. For him will be huge if he’s able to win again a Grand Slam.

Q. At this point in your career, can you describe how much of your off-court work is pain management, just keeping your body in shape enough to play these five-set matches?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I can’t describe. Is just my work. Is just my normal thing of every day, just to do the work the right way, just enjoy the moments when I have the chance to play with healthy conditions.

I’m having two great years. Yeah, last year was a fantastic year. This year have been a fantastic year until this moment.

I lost four matches. Two of them I had to retired. Negative thing is two of them have been in quarterfinals and semifinals of a Grand Slam, close to fight for titles. That’s frustrating. Can’t tell you another thing. Is tough for me.

Is not about losing. Is about don’t have the chance to fight for it. I feel that I fighted all my career against these kind of things, too. I missed lot of opportunities. But the other hand, I won a lot.

Is tough, these moments, but at the same time, on the other hand, I going to keep going and I going to keep working hard to keep having opportunities.

I know the things are going the right way. I am playing well. I am enjoying on court. I am having a lot of success. I am very competitive at the age of 32. Lot of people in this room, including myself, never will think that at the age of 32 I will be here fighting for titles, fighting for the first positions of the rankings.

All my career everybody say that because of my style, I will have a short career. I still here. I still here because I love what I am doing. I still have the passion for the game. I going to keep fighting and working hard to keep enjoying this tour and keep having chances to compete at the highest level. So that’s all.

Q. When you look at the injuries that you have dealt with, Novak, Roger, Juan Martin, have as well, is this the reality of modern tennis: you’re going to have to sustain these injuries to play at the level you play at?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry, but is not fair to compare myself with them. They didn’t have a — Novak had something last year. Roger have couple of ones. But at the age of 36 is not the same.

You can go to the history and you can compare how many Grand Slams I missed in my career, Masters 1000s, you can compare how many they missed. Sorry, but is not the real comparation [sic].

But is part of the game. I can’t and will not complain. Is just something that is like this. Even like this, I am in a good sport of the history of this sport, and keep going. That’s all.

Q. Is hard court particularly difficult on your knees given your injury history at this point?

RAFAEL NADAL: It’s okay (tearing up).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

57 comments

  1. Rafa I know how much this must hurt and dissapoint you but you are the Winner here i dont see how del patro can feel good going on when he didnt actually win . We all know you would have won the match if your knee was fine . Well next time my friend you are still our HERO . Get rested up and will see you soon thank you for such good tennis we love you Rafa .. God bless good health to you and your family always ..

  2. Rafa you are the hero of the US Open. You gave us the most exciting tennis matches bar none. I am heartbroken yo not be able to see you in the finals that you so deserved. I am sending out love and positive thoughts for your healing and recovery.
    You will always be the most exciting tennis player ever!!

  3. Hello friends,

    How did you interpret Rafa’s non-answer to the final question (English version, 09:40), about whether hardcourt tournaments are particularly difficult on his knees? He just made a classic 5-expressions-in-1 face, but I couldn’t quite tell what he was trying to communicate. That he’s bored of that question, and disagrees with the idea? Or that he agrees with the idea, but it’s too obvious to ask about?

    • My impression was the latter – that he thought it was a stupid question and he didn’t want to spend time answering it. Rafa has openly said on multiple occasions that hard courts are bad for his knees and they are generally known to be more damaging for the body than natural surfaces. I was surprised to see the transcript suggesting that he teared up at that point, which if you didn’t see the video might make it seem as if that was why he didn’t answer.

  4. Hang tough Rafa, I feel your pain!

    It’s a new day, and I woke up with some perspective I guess. I feel much better today than I did last night.

    Whoever wins the final tomorrow will be the deserving winner. If it’s Delpo, great for him. If it’s Djoker, good for him too, coz he’s put in the hard work and endured some tough losses before rising to the top again, as hard a pill it is to swallow since I want Rafa to win everything:)

    Rafa has at least 3 more years of great tennis in him if his body stays in decent shape. A slam each year, and he will surpass Roger. I’m already thinking of the AO since that’s the one he’s not won more than once. Maybe he should pull a Roger and rest from now till then:) Just kidding.

    No matter the slam records, Rafa will always be the best ever for me. He came from being a clay court specialist, to winning multiple slams on all other surfaces. And he ended up denying his rivals the opportunity to become multiple slam winners on his own favourite surface, which is key for me:) Of course Djoker may have something to say about that! Even the one he won, didn’t Rafa retire injured? So Rafa wasn’t there to stop him. Of course I will ignore that he beat Rafa the year before but then he wasn’t good enough against Stan the man!

    Either way I’m at peace with where Rafa is. I’m excited about the future because our champ has proven just how resilient he is. He’s certainly not done! And he really has nothing to prove to anyone.

    • Here, here Mac. I like your perspective and i’m glad that you’ve put a positive spin on things – you’ve cheered me up 😀. I would also say that Rafa has a few good years left, provided he maintains a sensible schedule.

    • Hiya Mac,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. I agree that Djokovic would be a deserving champion. Just because I dislike it, doesn’t mean it’s not true. He deserves his place in the sun, based purely on tennis ability and work ethic. I can respect that. I don’t think there was any conspiracy to put him there; he just managed his game and himself exceptionally well this fortnight.

      Ultimately, we are fans of Rafa and his tennis; not his results. If we just chased results, we’d switch allegiances to players every season. We are here to support Rafa on his whole journey, and we know the full value of his contribution to the tennis world. Sometimes that translates into titles, often it doesn’t. But we are pretty spoilt as fans; compare Rafa’s conversion rate with Delpo, for instance. Or Dimitrov. Or Ferrer. Etc.

      As the philosopher Boethius said, “happiness cannot consist in things governed by chance”. So I try to take my happiness from Rafa’s tennis presence, rather than his tennis results. If I get too attached to an outcome, I can miss all the good stuff.

      Rafa has said that it’s not about chasing the numbers; he just wants to be out there, feeling healthy, and playing well. And when he does that, results come. I try to follow his advice, and go moment by moment, instead of wishing for a set outcome, and measuring everything else by that. Hard to do; but Rafa shows us how.

      Just enjoy the moments, friends! 🙂

      • Alex, I have been a huge Rafa fan and I always enjoy reading your perspective on Rafa’s tennis and what you said is absolutely correct. We can all learn a lot from Rafa’s humility, honesty, fighting spirit etc. I was ecstatic seeing Rafa on the US open practice court last week.

  5. I also want delpo to win but we have to realistic. Djokovic easily beat nishikori yesterday and is probably the best hardcourt player of all time with roger.

    In order for del potro to win he has to serve insane and his forehand needs to be on fire. Djokovic can hurt del potro because of his fabolous return and his courtposition. Unlike nadal nole stands close to the baseline and returns aggresivily and deep that will take time away from juan martin. Then you have something that called nerves. Del Potro his first final since 2009. If del potro first serve as well as his forehand does not go well its going to be difficult.

  6. I woke up this morning thinking of Rafa. In one way, i’m glad I didn’t see the match last night (nor will l watch any replays) because the images of his struggles would be imprinted on my mind. It’s very sad that Rafa is out, but i’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that DelPo will play the match of his life and blast his way to victory in the final (every cloud……..). One thing is for sure, he’ll have the crowd on his side. It’ll be a tall order the way Novak is playing now, but if anyone can do it, he can. DelPo deserves to be remembered as a multiple grand slam winner.

  7. you can not say that rafa has a bad year. He has a succesful year so far compare with the losing years of 2015 and 2016 where i really feard for nadal career. So far only losing 4 matches this year two of them he had to give up one of them he was in disadvantage against novak at wimbeldon and that all at the age of 32 he just didnt had the luck that roger has had all his career to write history. But if he stays healthy and maybe start listening to moya when it comes to playing tournaments he absolty can win more grandslams

  8. To be honest I just don’t want Novak to win. He like roger has had a lot of luck apart from also being good player. I really hope delpo has Lady Luck together with his tennis and gets the trophy. Novak has had it too easy!

  9. after a day of big dissapointment i decided to write down some thoughts.

    – Due to bad luck nadal couldnt equal roger record (2 retirements against cilic and del potro and unfortunate decision to play under a closed roof against novak at wimbeldon)

    – Nadal still has a wonderful season so far winning french open and reaching a quarterfinal and two semifinals and winning five tournaments including three master serie tournaments which is remarkable at the age of 32.

    – Nadal has prove this season that although he is 32 he still can compete at the highest level against the top players.

    – Nadal has a very decent good record against the next gen. That means thiem, krygios, zverev, kachanov and tsipras. They havent overpowered him.

    – He is still the number one after this tournament.

    I hope that the knee injury will not jeopardize the rest of the season. With that i mean playing sjanghai, paris and atp finals.

    I still believe that nadal can equalize or surpass roger record and this is why. I think next season if he is healthy and fit he together with novak will decide that fate of roger record. Roger will not be winning a grandslam next year. If it is not rafa or nole then maybe thiem will win his first grandslam. Also Rafa is still unbeatable on clay keep that in mind. But it all depends how well he is going to do in melbourne off course.

    THE ONLY REASON WHY ROGER STILL HAS HIS RECORD IS BECAUSE RAFA HAD BAD LUCK WITH INJURIES OTHERWISE HE WOULD HAVE SURPASS HIM LONG TIME AGO

  10. Feel sooo bad for Rafa!

    Rafa you are the epitome of sportsmanship!!! So happy that you finally told the reporter not to compare your injuries to those of Novak’s or Rogers or anyone else. Comparisons are anyway to be made between people or things when everything is equal.
    Please get well soooon! You are amazing in every way! Come back healthy, happy and determined as ever. Love you! ❤️🤗😘😍🍀🍀🍀

  11. Rest ,do what you know to do!!! You are a champion of men, no matter what.You example every quality that is honorable. Today is yet another example. No one can take that away from you because you are true to yourself and you have the courage to be just that!!! Well done,number ONE!!!?

  12. I felt so sad for Rafa. He has had such a wonderful season. I know he probably sees this as a missed opportunity but he will have others. His health is much more important. especially to constantly play and compete at such a high level as Rafa always does. His matches at the US Open were really so riveting, exciting, and spectacular especially his qtr-final against Dominic.
    He always brings the heat and passion. For that and more, all of us fans love him and appreciate him. Rafa have a quick recovery and rest up. Best wishes and we’ll see you soon enough on the big stages globally!

  13. There were signs during the match vs Khachanov. And i know that the “Australian Open scene” could happen again. But Rafa did all the things correctly. He chose to skip Cincinnati to save his best form for the US Open and so far he has played a good tournament. Perhaps he may need to forfeit his buggy whip forehand into a more flat one to prevent bending his knee also may change the grip to have bombarding serve like US Open 2010.
    I know this is going to be tough but well i don’t think Federer is winning anymore slam but you have to survive for 2 years Rafa and i hope that you can make it to 19.

  14. Rafa..I am so sorry..I thought this would be ur 18th title..but ur health is much more important..i know how gutted u feel..even i do..take good rest..i will be praying for u daily for ur salvation n ur health especially ur knees..Our God is our healer..Rafa name itself means healer..cheer up dear..😊😊..u will be back with a storm see for next year..😊😊..

  15. Aww. I went out to the club but I’m back home now. Just wasn’t in the mood to have a good time. Uncle Gin and uncle Jack didn’t help.

    I feel so sad for Rafa. He works so hard and then his body fails him like this. It’s sort of beautiful and poetic in some sick way. We can only play the cards we’re dealt in life the best way we can. And Rafa has made the most of it!!

    I wish you all the best champ! Rest all you want. And come back strong! You’re an inspiration to us all for your fighting spirit.

    Keep fighting Rafa. God bless you sweetie!

  16. Rafa–you can’t/shouldn’t play 4 and 5 setters on hard courts with the condition of your knee. If you continue you will need a knee replacement before you are 35! Think about it! Sometimes your body tries to tell you something. I am disappointed for you with today’s result and sad for your loss. But I would much rather you lose to del Potro than djokavic. Take care of yourself and the long future you have ahead of you and your future family.
    Love. ❤️

  17. I didn’t get to see the match as I was out, but kept in touch with the score. I was gutted to learn that Rafa had to retire from the match. What a sad way to end his campaign. I was hoping and praying that his knees would hold up to the end of the tournament, but sadly it was not to be. Rafa knows what he has to do to recover, so he should rest for as long as is necessary. Meanwhile, I’m rooting for DelPo!!!

  18. Dunno about the rest of the world… here in Italy the comment was amazed by the BIG show of sportmanship. “Unprecedented”, was the word when Rafa told Delpo to challenge a maybe-bad-call. They’re amazed… I’m not, because Rafa is the #1 sportsman and will always be.

    I’m a 52 yo tennis fan since I was 6. In 46 years of this sport I never, ever saw anyone like Rafa. I’m so proud and honored to witness this champion every time.

  19. Take care and get better,we all love you and hope you can recover soon. You are such a gentleman and always act that way !!

  20. I am one of many loyal fans – I am praying for you and hope you are back doing what you love soon and know that you will take the time to take care of your physical health – You are a champion and what you’ve accomplished in your career is beyond amazing – your fans love you and can’t wait to see you back on the court once you have healed – VAMOS RAFA <3

  21. Rafa, you are the coolest cutiepie in all of tennis! I love your answers to the press…they have
    no clue who you are! You are a winner no matter what!! love you!!!

  22. I am so sad for Rafa. How many injuries he aleready had in his carreer is just hard to believe 🙁 please take rest champ <3

    • One has to wonder… Rafa for me is the undiscussed #1 of all time. And finally — at last! — he made clear that you cannot compare his history of struggle and injuries with Djokovic and Federer, who never had anything serious in their whole career apart a glitch here and there.

      You don’t make titles with “what ifs” and “buts”… “but” 🙂 I always wonder “if” Rafa had — let’s say — half the problems he had. The discussion over the GOAT would be pointless.

      • At long last Rafa has said what we all know Federer and Djokovic don’t know what injuries are there is just no comparison they F and D would not have the slams they have if Rafa had not had all of these injuries good luck Rafa in all that you dfo and Vamos Delpo knock djoko for OUT

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