Transcript of Rafael Nadal’s pre-tournament presser.
Q. How do you assess your physical condition at this specific stage? How do you feel?
RAFAEL NADAL: Good. No, I feel good. If I am not feeling good, I will not be here. I have good feelings in terms of the surgery that I have in the foot. I can say is almost done.
Then, of course, after surgery, after months without competing, having troubles to practice, of course there is always issues when you come back.
But nothing new for me. I had couple of ones of this. Just accept the challenges of the body presents and the tennis presents.
Is again another season, coming back from a tough period of time, but with highest motivation possible to start another season. Very excited to be back here in Melbourne, starting another one.
Yeah, of course is good news that I am here again – for me, I don’t know for you (smiling). That’s my feeling: happy to be here.
Q. I’ve seen some video that makes it look like your serve is quite different. Did you change it? If so, why? Was it a difficult thing to do?
RAFAEL NADAL: You need to make you feel alive, you know. There is always things to improve. Is true that I try to improve during all my career all the things. The serve was always a thing that I tried to improve, and I think I did.
Maybe was the time to try to make one more step, no? That’s what we are trying. I happy with it. I happy with the motivation to do something new. I happy with the fact that, if I am able to make that happen in a good way, that hopefully will give me the chance to help me on my game a longer term. That’s all.
I didn’t compete with this new serve, so let’s see how it works. I am confident it’s going to work well.
Q. You’ve known Andy Murray such a long time. How is it going to feel to be on tour without him?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, of course is very bad news. But being honest, when somebody like him, that he achieved almost everything in his tennis career, is suffering like he’s doing for such a long time already, and you feel that you are not competitive for the thing that really makes you wake up every morning and go on court with the passion to practice, to improve, and with a goal, then is so difficult, no?
I can’t say that because I didn’t had that experience, but in some way I can speak about similarities that I had in my career, no? When you are going on court every day without the clear goal because you cannot move well, you have pain, then is a moment to take a decision.
Probably he is fighting for keep going since a long time. If he doesn’t feel that the thing can go better, probably he does the right thing for his mental health.
Will be a very important lose for us, for the world of tennis, for the tour, for the fans, even for the rivals that he have been part of a great rivalry between the best players for a long time, and a great competitor.
But that’s life. Seems like he had not very long career because today players are playing that long. But he’s 31. 10 years ago, if he retired at 31, we will say he had a great and very long career. That’s the real thing.
So all the best for him. We will miss him. But today is him. Tomorrow another one. We are not 20 any more. Our generation, everyone is more than 30s. These kind of things happens. That’s it.
Q. You talked about the similar experiences you had with Andy, with physical issues. With all the injuries that you’ve had, the operations, the procedures on your knee, have you ever thought that your body is telling you that maybe you shouldn’t be playing tennis, that you should go play golf, go fishing?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t arrive to that point. I am a positive guy. I always had the feeling that we’ll fix it. But, of course, there is periods of time that you don’t see the light. Is tough.
My only goal is always to have been keep going. Even if lot of days you go on court when you have troubles or you go to the gym without having a real goal or without knowing why I am going there, because I don’t see a benefit on this today; you keep going. That’s the only way that you can keep having confidence and hope for a good comeback in terms of health. That’s it.
I have my experience. I know sometimes is hard mentally. Is tough when you have one thing, then another thing.
But I know that tennis is not forever. I want to do it as long as I can and give myself the best possibilities to fight for the things really I am passionate about, and to keep doing the things that I really enjoy doing. Playing tennis is one of the things, compete in this sport is one of the things that I enjoy more doing.
When arrive the day that I cannot hold it again will be the day to go and do what you told me or another things.
Q. You talked about Andy, the rivalries, everything. A lot of the support from players is pointed out what they will miss is him, his personality, how he was as a man.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, we shared competitions under 13, under 14. Yeah, we know each other since a very long, long time ago, no? When he was a kid, he was little bit a bad boy (smiling).
Then, of course, you have an evolution on your personality. And yes, at the end of the day you appreciate a lot your rivals because you shared lot of important moments in our lives.
I always had good relationship with him. We shared moments in my academy. We shared moments playing some exhibitions all around the world. We shared court in the most important stadiums in the world, competing for the most important things. That’s impossible to forget.
He has a good fighting spirit. He have been a hard worker. Is not nice to finish like this because is great that you finish when you want to finish, not because of another thing.
Overall, when he puts everything on the balance, will be that the positive things of the balance are much heavier than the negative things, even if in the end is not probably the way that he dreamed about. But you can’t manage that.
Q. One of your great rivalries is with Roger Federer. What are your recollections of the 2017 final playing him, and how different was it, given the stages your careers were at?
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat that?
Q. One of your great rivalries was with Roger Federer.
RAFAEL NADAL: Me?
Q. Yes. The 2017 final was the last time you played him in the final. What are your recollections of that match? How different is it playing him now in matches, given the stages of your careers?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. 2017 have been a special situation. Both of us came back from very long time without playing tennis. Nobody expected that, and happened. Was something, like, completely unexpected, and happened. That was big.
But today is different story. We are back to the top positions, fighting for the things again. Always have been a big challenge to face Roger all around the world, in the different surfaces, different scenarios.
And yes, 2017 here have been one of the matches that going to stays in our minds, in our careers. But one more, we had plenty.
Q. I know you’ve had experience in your career where you’ve preferred not to have a particular umpire at your match. What was it like when this person eventually did umpire you again? What was your feeling?
RAFAEL NADAL: I never had problems, being honest. I had some issues, I mean, long-term problems. I consider myself a very relaxed guy on court. As everybody knows, I had an issue with Carlos in Rio.
But for me is not about one thing or another thing that can happen on the match. Everybody can have mistakes. For me, the only reason why during a small period of time I request that if I cannot have him on the chair was because, in my opinion, that day in Rio de Janeiro, he didn’t respect me. That is all. He make me change my shorts in front of 7000 people. Sorry, I don’t believe that’s nice. That’s all.
If he’s pushing me with the time, making a negative call, that’s part of the business. Everybody have mistakes. I have mistakes. I am wrong sometimes. Under pressure, I can do sometimes things that being relaxed you will not.
But that’s all. I only had that issue.
Q. So it was okay the next time when he umpired you?
RAFAEL NADAL: He was umpire me plenty of times after that. I am not people that going to think about what happened in the past. I see him on the airport travelling all around. I always say hello. We always had a good relationship with Carlos.
Being honest, I respect him a lot. I think he’s one of the best umpires that we had for a long time. But that day was a mistake. He had time to think about it, that’s all. He did something that in my personal opinion was not respecting me, but that’s all.
We spoke. We don’t have problems at all. If he’s on the chair tomorrow, after tomorrow, I will not think at all about what happened in the past. No, no, no problems at all.