Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Q. Not looking too far ahead, but the cycle of Grand Slam is between you, Roger, Novak. Nobody has found the way to break it yet. What kind of player will it take to break that cycle, or have you three developed a unique brand of tennis that is above everybody else?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t know. Probably a good player, that there is couple of very good players on tour. Yeah, couple of ones young. They need some time.
I don’t know. For me is not easy to answer this question because I am part of it. Difficult to have clear answer.
Honestly what we achieved in the Grand Slams, in tennis in general, during the last 14, 15 years is something special. In the same moment have three players that achieved that much is something difficult to repeat because we played more or less at the same time.
But here we are. Of course, going to come somebody going to beat us or we are going to leave because we are not young any more.
Q. Seems like you were having a lot of fun out there, both with you and Jo. You also played incredibly well. You’ve been coming here a while. How well do you think your game is looking on the grass at the moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: I played a solid match. I played a good quality of tennis. Honestly I felt very comfortable this afternoon out there. I think second round I played little bit better than the first round. Today I played better than in the second round.
Is important that after the tough draw I was able to find a way to be in the second week. That give me some positive feelings. Tomorrow one more day off to practice. Not a big physical demanding today, so tomorrow is a day to keep working a little bit hard on some specific things.
In general terms, have been an amazing, positive win.
Q. You may or may not play Dan Evans in the next round. Do you know him well as a person, what you think of him as a player? If it is him, do you think he would be dangerous?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know him. As a person, I really don’t know him very well. He was always nice on the locker room honestly, saying hello everybody. Personally I don’t know very well him.
In terms of his tennis, I know him. I saw him play a lot of times. He’s a dangerous opponent. He has good serve, very good forehand. He understands, in my opinion, very well this game, no? He knows how to play tennis, how to build the points. Is a dangerous one.
In the other hand, is Joao that already won two great matches here. If he’s able to win today, is going to be another good victory for him.
To be in the fourth round, any player going to be tough. I need to be playing like today or a little bit better if possible.
Q. How did you find the playing surface today? Have you found that it’s slower as the tournament goes on, compared to other years, as well?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know if I don’t have a lot of feelings. When I hear people saying, That’s very slow, faster, slower than ever… I have been here for 15 years. Every time I am hearing the same. Sometimes the feelings of the players are not exactly the same. For a player who is playing very well, they can feel the things perfect. For a player that not playing that well, they feel slower or too fast because is difficult to find the timing out there.
Honestly, the surface for me is the same as always. I have been playing here since 2003. Honestly, I don’t see a difference on the surface. Is true that sometimes the balls are heavier than the other events here. That’s true. Balls are heavier.
Q. Are they heavier at the moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think the balls are always heavy here in Wimbledon, no? That’s something that, in my opinion, is the main thing that makes sometimes the game little bit slower. It’s not the surface. It’s the balls that are a little bit heavier.
Sometimes is normal because we play on grass. The balls get some humidity. That’s part of the game. But the way that we play tennis here since 2003, for me is always the same.
Q. You talked about playing Evans. If Sousa wins, talk about playing him.
RAFAEL NADAL: We know each other very well. Practiced plenty of times together. He’s a player that when he’s winning matches, he’s a super dangerous opponent against everybody. He is very quick, very good physical performance. He’s aggressive with his shots, he’s going for the shots all the time.
He’s a player that sometimes he lose matches during the whole year. But when he starts to have a positive dynamic, is very, very dangerous, no? I think I saw him playing in Halle some great matches. Here I saw him play the other day against Cilic. He was playing great.
I don’t know what is going to happen this afternoon, but is going to be a tough one.
Q. I’m not sure if you’ve been asked about Cori Gauff’s run at all since you’ve been here.
RAFAEL NADAL: About what?
Q. Cori, Coco Gauff. You obviously were a pretty brilliant teenager. She’s doing well as a 15-year-old. Do you have any thoughts on her game, and the rule that kind of restricts players from playing too many tournaments, whether you agree with that or not?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know exactly the rule, to be honest.
Q. She’s only allowed to play a certain number of events as a 15-year-old. It could be a maximum of 14 in her 15th year professional events.
RAFAEL NADAL: 14, 15 is not that bad. Normally I not playing that much.
Probably they do it to protect little bit the physical issue. When you are that young, when you have her level of tennis, of course you follow the normal tour and you believe that you can manage very well, no? But is true that your body still under development. Sometimes can be little bit dangerous for the injuries in the future.
I don’t have a real opinion on this. But I understand the rule. Maybe it’s not bad. Her story is great, very good for our sport to have stories like this. It creates audience, creates positive feelings. Just well done for her. She really played some great matches. I saw her play. I enjoyed.
Q. You hit a lot of winners today, but also your first-serve percentage was high, 70%. You won 89% of first.
RAFAEL NADAL: Exactly. You are right (smiling). You study.
Q. Talk about how you thought you served today and also going forward how important that could be.
RAFAEL NADAL: Is obvious that on grass, if you serve well, if you want to have success here, you can’t give the opponent a lot of opportunities to break you, no? That’s like this. Even if you are a good returner, you will not have big chances to have plenty of breaks in this surface. Of course, is so important to serve well.
But for my side, I know I have been serving well. But for my side is not only about the serve. I need to continue the point well with my forehand and backhand. I think I didn’t face a breakpoint today. That’s because my serve worked well.
At the same time my shots from the baseline, the continuation after the serve, have been very well, playing aggressive, not many mistakes, being very precise.
Yeah, I did a lot of times serve on one ball. I did a lot of things well. That’s why the numbers are positive.
Coco is a likeable young lady and has been very impressive so far. She could turn out to be the next Serena or sadly it is possible that she could turn into the next Genie Bouchard. It is much easier to be the hunter than the hunted. She seems very mature and calm so hoping she can withstand the pressure. To be a teen sensation and then sustain that level for 18 years as Rafa has done is absolutely the exception rather than the rule.
Rafa a gentleman
And a scholar
Humble and respectful
And what a sensation 15-year-old Coco Gauff is. She knocked out Venus in R1.
Under the current rules, I think she is allowed to play only tournaments at her age. She does a lot of training in France at Mouratoglou’s academy.
According to the BBC, her match against Hercog pulled in a peak audience of 5.2 million. Roger Federer’s agency, Team8, represents her.
CORRECTION: only “10” tournaments per year