Rafael Nadal speaks to the media following his 7-6(6), 6-4 win over Daniel Evans in Montreal.
Q. Talk about what Dan Evans did today to make it such a difficult match for you.
RAFAEL NADAL: All the matches are difficult here. We are talking about a Masters 1000. All the players in the men’s here are dangerous for everyone.
Yeah, Daniel is a player that combine a aggressive game with good hands. He’s able to read the game very well, so he knows how to play tennis in terms of tactics. So have been an important victory for me, no?
It was a tough first set. Then in the second, I was able to take advantage at the beginning, but then he break me back. Was so important that game again to have the break.
Q. There was a lot of talk before the tournament about the need to build a roof over center court here. Do you feel it is an essential step for the big tournaments to stay relevant and to build retractable roofs?
RAFAEL NADAL: Honestly with the Grand Slams are great that they are doing this stuff because is better for the fans, is better for the tournament by itself.
Honestly, here in the Masters 1000s, okay, if you have it, better. I don’t think is something totally necessary. If you have it, better. If not, I think the tournament is good like this.
Q. Over the 19 years of your career, you’ve achieved great stability in your game in keeping your close ones, your group, close with you. How important is this to you? How can you expect the younger guys coming into the game today to get the same thing?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know what the new guys thinks about it. Times changes. I can’t say what works for me going to work for them.
But for me personally, obviously have a good group of human people around me of course help me a lot for my education, for my preparation, like a human person growing during all these years.
Important thing is have a group of people around you that they feel free enough to tell you if you are doing the things right or not right, no? When you are changing people around you very often is difficult to find this confidence.
Tennis has a problem that normally the player pays the coach and the physio, the team. That sometimes creates an atmosphere that the people who are around the player are little bit more scared about saying the real things to the player, no?
To build this confidence, the player needs to give them the confidence that they can tell you what is the real thing for them, not what you want to hear all the time. In my opinion, is difficult to build that in a short period of time.
If you have the same team for a long time, of course they know that they work are not in danger if they say one thing or another thing (smiling).
Q. Another Spaniard who has had a great year this rear, Roberto, top 10 in the Race to London. How much have you seen him improve this year? What makes it so difficult to play against?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s a great player. He have been a great player for very long time already. This year the big improvement is he made the semifinals of Wimbledon. That’s why, no?
When you are in that ranking, Roberto have been in a very high position in the rankings for a very long time, the difference being top 10 or being 16 is be in the right moment in the right time (snapping fingers).
He have been there in Wimbledon, winning a couple matches. Have been a lot of points for him. He is a very regular player, very stable player, very strong mentality.
Yeah, I really believe if he stays relaxed like he is, he going to have a good chance to be in the World Tour Finals because he’s one of the most stable players on tour, I think.
Q. How much do you appreciate playing in Montreal, a match like today, takes over four hours with all the rain, but all the fans keep coming back in to cheer you on?
RAFAEL NADAL: I really enjoy playing everywhere. Normally the crowd, when you see the full crowd, the court full, is a very special and nice feeling.
Here in Montreal, as I said on court, I have plenty of good memories. 2005 was my first time here. I enjoy a lot of great moments here. For me is another chance.
Of course, being one year Montreal, one year Toronto, you never know when is the last time that you have the chance to be here because we are 33, I am 33 already. Next time that I can be playing here, going to be at 35, so…
I hope to make it, but there is always a risk that you don’t. I just enjoy the fact that I am playing here one more time.
Fans are always great with me. I always enjoyed great crowd and felt the love and the support.
Q. You had success in both Toronto and Montreal. Is there something different about this crowd and the energy here?
RAFAEL NADAL: Don’t put me in that position (smiling).
Honestly, both are great for me. Difficult for me to say one or another, honestly. Is difficult.
Q. In the absence of Roger Federer and Djokovic, do you think after today’s win you’re going to go until the end, in the first place, or maybe Stefanos Tsitsipas will be a great opponent for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: My opponent is Guido Pella now. That’s my reality, no? I even don’t know in what round I can play against Stefanos.
Is he for my part of the draw?
Q. Yes. You would meet in the semifinals.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I would love to play that match. Going to be a great news for me to be in semifinals, no?
I am not thinking that far. I am just going step by step. Today was a good victory that allow me to be back on court again tomorrow, tomorrow against a player who is playing great. He’s having the best year of his career. He’s super dangerous, winning great matches.
I need to be ready for tomorrow.
Q. What would you like to be working on in your game going forward? Are you feeling good on the surface yet? Are you feeling the ball well?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is just the first day. Always is tough, first match on hard after such a long time.
After Wimbledon always the mind goes down a little bit because I have been playing long clay court season, then grass, so you didn’t relax. Then when you finish Wimbledon, it’s like your body lose a little bit that tension, so it needs little bit of time to recover.
Today, as I said before, the main thing is win. I know with victories that other things should be coming slowly. Have been playing and practicing more or less well. Now is the moment to compete. Today I competed enough well to be through. Tomorrow is another challenge.
That’s the only way that I can see the feelings today. I know winning matches, the feelings going to be better and better for sure.
Q. When you look back at the first set, see those two set points, then breaking in the second set after the rain delay, talk about where the state of your game is, knowing you can do that without a lot of hard court experience coming into this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: Hard court experience, I have a lot. Played a lot on hard, no?
As I said before, have been an important moment, of course, that end of the first set. Winning the first set, I know that I have win a lot. I played a great point in the 6-4 to be 6-5. Two good serves and finally achieved the set. I had a good beginning of the second.
Of course, the beginning of the match being against the score is more difficult to play well because you start and you have the break against, then you are a little bit in trouble in the beginning of the tournament. It’s not the ideal start. But I found a way to be back.
So is important, as I said, to survive this first round. Is important to survive against a player that already won three matches before this match. Have been a good challenge and I was able to do it.
Thank you, guys. See you tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports