Transcript of Rafa’s presser after the Tsitsipas match.
Q. Was it one of those nights where you see a tennis ball well and everything you touch transforms into gold? You were unplayable from the stands.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I played well, of course. Have been playing well during the whole event. Every match more or less I think I did a lot of things well. Tonight was another one.
Yeah, I played solid. Playing solid with my serve, playing aggressive. Probably the backhand was better today than the rest of the days. That’s important for me, too, because the forehand was working fantastic during the whole week, week and a half, but the backhand was improving during the tournament. Tonight was even better than the previous rounds, no? Returning better. So in general terms of course I have to be very happy about the way that I played.
Q. Why were you naked in front of John McEnroe? What were the circumstances there?
RAFAEL NADAL: Because I was on the toilet changing my clothes. Was very warm out there. That’s all.
Q. Were you surprised to see him?
RAFAEL NADAL: I heard that somebody was there, but I don’t have one hour to wait him to go out. I had to change. That’s all.
Q. Stefanos came in here and was quite down. Can you remember any defeats early in your career where you just felt like you were completely outplayed? If so, how did you move on from that?
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s part of the game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. He’s young. I lost enough times to know that. Everybody needs to go through that experience. Everybody needs to live this experience.
If I remember one? No, I don’t remember one. I remember plenty of times. When you go on court, you know you can win and you can lose, that’s it. That’s this sport. Every week there is only one winner, and the rest, everybody lose. When you play this sport, you have to know that. Of course, when you lose is normal that you are down.
Tonight I played so well. He played a great event. First semifinals for him. He’s young. He has everything to become a great champion. There is no many reasons to be down when you started the season like this, in my opinion, even if is normal just straight after the match you can’t be happy. He had a great start of the season.
Q. How worried were you in Brisbane? How much different do you feel now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Was little bit worried, of course, because have been issue after issue. But I was practicing great. That’s the real feeling. On Brisbane I had a great week of practice. I never stopped practicing. I had that thing in the thigh, leg, small strain there. I went to do the MRI, all the stuff. I didn’t feel very bad, but the doctors didn’t allow me to go on court. Even the doctor from Brisbane, the doctor from Spain. I can’t go against the doctors, even when I wanted to play.
One of the reasons that I wanted to play was because I felt myself playing so well there, practicing the days before. During the week have been very positive practices for me, too. I was worried about having another issue. But in terms of tennis, I know I was playing well.
Then, of course, you have to compete. After four, five months without action at all, then of course you know that you can come here and anything can happen, no?
But the feelings have been positive since during December and the beginning of the season. I felt I was doing a lot of things well.
Q. You’re clearly moving forward very well, taking short balls, all the opportunities you can. How would you rate the way you’re doing that now compared to the rest of your career?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is always the same: we can’t compare the rest of my career with today. I am playing well today. I am doing a lot of things well. The results say during my career I did a lot of things very well, too. We can’t say now I am playing better than never, no. I did a lot of things well during my career.
Today I have to adapt my game to the new time and to my age, that’s all. That’s what I did during all my career, just try to adapt my game with the circumstances that I went through. That’s the only reason why at this moment I still here competing at high level.
I know during that 15, 16 years, 17 years of tennis, professional tennis career, I going to lose things on my way, so I need to add new things. That’s what I tried to do during all my career, to improve the things that I can improve.
Q. Could you have a word about the final, whether it’s Novak or Lucas.
RAFAEL NADAL: The final is always a final. Yeah, of course Novak is the favorite tomorrow. He have been in that position a lot of times. For Lucas is the first time. But let’s see. Is a tennis match, and anything can happen.
But I can’t say a word about the final on the opponents today. I don’t know. I just have to think my way. I have to keep doing the things that I am doing. That’s my feeling, just keep playing the way that I am playing and let’s see. That’s my goal.
I am doing a lot of things well, so I can’t complain much. I am just focused on trying to keep doing the things that I am doing, then expect to have one of that special days.
Q. Stefanos said he was surprised how aggressive you were, how well you were serving.
RAFAEL NADAL: How what?
Q. How aggressive you were. How is your aggression going?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was aggressive because I am playing well, no? Is nothing new that I am aggressive. The problem with myself is because I had a lot of success on clay people probably think I am not aggressive. I really believe that people thinks that are completely wrong. That’s the real thing, no?
Of course, I am not doing serve and volley. I am not hitting winners every ball. But I play all the shots with a goal. There is not better way to be aggressive than hit every shot with the goal to create damage on the opponent. That was my goal during all the career.
Today I can do that damage little bit earlier than before because during this event I have been serving great. So when you serve great, then the first ball normally is a little bit easier. That’s probably the only reason. I had the determination to make that happen. That’s all.
I can’t play like Roger when I don’t have the serve of Roger. You know, Roger have a lot of free points, have lot of times that he starts with the serve, then he have a not-very-difficult forehand. Was not my case during all my career because I never had that serve.
But today I’m serving better. That’s why I’m able to create more winners on the first ball. That’s the only reason. For the rest of the things, I always tried to be aggressive. I have my mentality. You can’t go against the way you understand the sport. I can’t play trying to hit winners every ball if I don’t understand the sport that way. You can’t deal with the pressure. The mental part have to go in front of the game. That’s what I did during all my career.
Q. You obviously didn’t complete that many tournaments last year. You haven’t played an official event since the US Open. Do you think the people like us kind of overrate the fact that you haven’t played for nearly four months coming into this event, that perhaps it’s not as relevant as we might think?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, it is relevant. Is normal that you believe and you have doubts about me, because I have doubts about me. Of course, is not a problem for me. I really understand 100% because I have the same doubts.
Is true that if that happens 10 years ago probably will be a much more difficult situation for me because I needed always to be on rhythm, to play good tennis. Since awhile, I understand of course it’s better because you feel more confident on yourself. You feel more safe when you are on rhythm.
I believe that when you are older, you lose less the tennis when you are playing less. You don’t need that many matches to play well. That’s something that happened for the last two years for me. Probably one of the reasons is because I am practicing well when I am not competing, then that allow me to be back on action a little bit quicker. That’s all. It’s not a big reason.
Of course, is an issue. Is not easy to be back after four months, five months, and play the way I am playing. Of course, I didn’t expect that at all.
Q. Talk about tennis in these recent years. In some ways is it more satisfying than when you were younger? Do you take pride in adding things to your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can’t say yes because after the first good year that I had, or the first great year I had, 2005, I get injured with my feet, in my feet. Doctors told me that probably you will never be back playing at the professional level, no?
Until that moment I really enjoy every moment that I had success, no? For me, every victory, every year that I have been able to keep going have been a very happy year for me. When the doctors tell you that, you never know, can be the end.
Now is a different story. I am a little bit more safe after a lot of years. The first year, after what happened with my feet in 2005, was something difficult to manage mentally, no? I really appreciate all the things that happened to me since I was very young. I feel lucky to be back from where I was in that moment.
Q. You obviously have multiple experiences here making the finals. Sometimes some of the semifinalists have one day off, the other two. Do you have a preference? Does it make a difference to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Playing the time that I played on court, I really don’t care. If you play like the match that I played against Dimitrov in 2017, is better to have two days. I can’t lie you.
Today have been less than two hours, I think. So is not an issue have one day or two days off.
Source: Australian Open