Rafa’s popularity is not going down in Australia

Q. What was the impression about this match? It was a little bit like when there are two boxers of different weight. Is that wrong or right, my impression?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is your view. I respect 100%. But for my side, is difficult to say that. I believe that I played a solid match. I played a good level of tennis, hitting a lot of good spots especially during the first two sets. Tried to don’t let him play comfortable, no?

I think for moments I tried to make him feel that my ball was good enough that he was not having the control of the point almost never. I know he’s dangerous. He’s super quick. He likes to go inside the court fast. I tried to not give him many chances on that.

Then my serve worked well. I felt more dynamic with my movements tonight, better than every — every day a little bit better, in my opinion. In general terms, I played a very solid match. I’m happier a little bit with my backhand tonight than two nights ago.

In general terms, everything is a step forward. So that’s positive news for me. I’m very happy for the victory because at the end of the day I won 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 against a player that he was winning seven matches in a row, winning a tournament. He’s young. He has that extra energy that the young guys have. Always is a dangerous match.

Very happy with the victory.

Q. First couple of matches you were a bit reserved about your performance, saying it was about finding your rhythm. Your level seemed to step up again tonight. At what point does that go from worrying about your body to you’re ready to win the tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: I will not say that. I won three matches. That’s a great news. Being honest, I am very happy the way that I managed to play that matches. Is not easy after a while without competing. You have to deal with different issues always.

I think I did a lot of things well. I don’t say I’m here, ready to win the tournament, because you never know what’s going on. The only thing that I can say is I won three good matches, and now I have another tough opponent in front that he’s playing great. He started the season at a very high level. So going to be a very big test for me.

That’s why I’m here, to try to see how I am. At the same time, to try my best every day. Tomorrow is a good day for practice little bit more, keep doing things that I can keep improving. But I like the position where I am today, of course.

Q. There’s been a lot of controversy in Australian tennis with Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic getting into a fight in the media, also Nick Kyrgios getting involved a little bit, too. Lleyton seemed to think there should be one way for tennis culture to operate, everybody working hard, having the same values. Do you think a country should be able to accommodate different types of personalities and players or a strict, one-way method can work?
RAFAEL NADAL: There is no people the same. Everyone has his own personality, no? You can’t pretend — I will not pretend everybody is like me. Is normal.

Answering your question, I will not say a thing that I don’t know all what’s going on out there. I have a good relationship with Bernard, I have a good relationship with Lleyton. I don’t know. Will be more normal if they sit and they talk more than do this thing here in the media, of course.

But is out of my business and is out of what I really know. Things sometimes are more difficult than what you feel from outside.

Q. Do you sense a frustration among the younger group of players below you that you, Roger and Novak seem to be playing as well as ever?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. Just we love this sport and we want to keep playing. Will be the day that that will not happens. The new generation is coming hard. Tomorrow there is another battle between Shapovalov and Novak. Will be an interesting match to see, too.

That kind of matches are interesting for the media, interesting for the players, and you share lot of years of difference between one and others. That’s makes the sport interesting, too.

I think they are young enough to not be frustrated at all. They have plenty of time.

Q. I believe you were in The Bahamas when Tiger Woods embarked on his latest comeback. When you’ve seen how he’s contended in majors, won THE TOUR Championship, are you able to learn anything from that, gain inspiration from that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Being honest, I went through that process before that. Is not new that Tiger is one of the sportsmen that I admire the most. I stay until 2 in the evening if he’s playing always at home. I follow him every tournament that he plays. I love his attitude on the course.

In some way, yes, he’s an inspiration. After all the things that happened to him, he’s able to fight back, he’s able to win again, is able to put him in a position that he can win majors again. That’s fantastic I think for the sport. That’s a great history.

Like a sportsman, he’s one of the best that I ever seen in my life, and in a sport that I like a lot. So I just feel very lucky that I am having the chance to keep see him competing that well.

Q. For many years you’ve been a popular guy here in Australia. Have you noticed your popularity dip at all in the last week after knocking out three Aussies?
RAFAEL NADAL: What do you mean, popularity going down (smiling)? I don’t think so, no, no.

My feeling is people here understands the sport. People here loves the sport. I really enjoy atmosphere here. People go to see the sport in a good way. They respect the opponents. I think Australians don’t see me like an opponent. I have been always friend from Australia. I think I always supported this month. I love playing here. I love playing the Fast4 in Sydney every year that I can. I try to be ready for Brisbane. Was not the year for me. I am sad to not play there. But I was there during the whole week practicing.

I love being out here. I think the fans appreciate that I feel close to them. I feel a good connection with all the people there. When I’m on court, I feel the love of all of them, no? Is a feeling that is difficult to describe.

When you go walk on court, you feel the support and love of the people, it’s one of the feelings that you’ll miss the most when you are not playing, being honest, even more than the competition and anything. Feel all that support is just, yeah, very, very important for my energy to keep working, keep practicing hard, keep fighting against the injuries and the tough moments.

Q. You spoke about having to combat the extra energy that somebody like Alex has on the court. Do you have to mentally change your mindset to play somebody like Tomas in the next round who has been around for a lot longer, whose game you know better?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I go on court every day trying my best. I know I have to play aggressive. I know I have to play with the right determination, even if is Alex, even if is Tomas. Of course, they are different personalities, different way of understand the tennis.

But every day’s a test. Maybe every day tougher. I have to be ready for it.

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5 comments

  1. well played rafa…feeling so good tonsee u play at this intensity and determination its always a treat to eyes watching u play…..next is a player out an out aggressive hittter….so i think rafa needa to change or vary the pace of the shots….vaey the speed of the shot and should more try for drop shot…..also 1 set will be so important so holding serve will be the key ..rafa alsi shud try to serve and volley a little in this match and best u kbow what to do…..best luck rafa….vamos

    Like

    • Can’t agree with you more! I really enjoyed those on-court interviews. McEnroe seemed to ask the kind of questions that showcase Rafa’s humble, respectful, and witty nature.

      Like

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