Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win against Marin Cilic.
Q. The second-to-last point of the match, you spoke about it already, but do those moments where the whole crowd roars for you, does that ever get old?
RAFAEL NADAL: Difficult to describe that feelings, honestly. So special to see this amazing crowd supporting. As I said before the tournament start, no, I always had a great connection with the crowd here in New York, no? They are very energetic, very passionate. I consider myself like this, especially on court, no? I feel very identify with them.
Yeah, matches like this, you come back to the hotel with plenty of energy because I really enjoyed a lot playing in front of the full crowd. Arthur Ashe Stadium here in New York, night session. It’s difficult to be better.
Q. Cooler nights, cooler weather. Do you or your team make any adjustments on string tension or equipment?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, honestly I never change my tension. I not that kind of player that makes changes on all this stuff. During the night, the ball flies a little bit less. Bounces are not that high. You need to adapt little bit, no?
But I am used to play night sessions here. I like it. Not a big deal.
Q. About last night with Novak, if you saw what happened, him being booed, do you think he deserved that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Honestly, I didn’t see no one point of the match. I didn’t see the finish.
What happened? What you said?
Q. The fans booed him after he had to retire from the match yesterday.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no, I really believe that he doesn’t deserve of course. I believe that he’s a super athlete. If he had to go is because he was not able to continue at all.
For him is much more painful than for anyone on that Arthur Ashe Stadium. He missed an opportunity to win another Grand Slam, playing on one of his best surfaces for sure, hard, coming after winning Wimbledon. Have been a good opportunity for him.
Q. 50 years ago Rod Laver won his second Grand Slam. What are your thoughts on that accomplishment and what Rod means to tennis?
RAFAEL NADAL: Means a lot that he’s still around our sport. When we see him following our events, makes the events more special and more important.
Is so important that our tour pay the right tribute to all these legends. Rod is one of them, of course. Of course, one of the best of our sport ever. Probably if he will not turn professional during all these years, maybe he will win more Grand Slams than anyone that we are playing today.
Just for that case he can be considered top, top of the history of this sport. Have him around I think means a lot for the fans, means a lot for the tournaments, for the players. What makes the sport bigger and more important is the combinations of new great things with the tradition and with past legends, and he is.
Q. The stats of this match are special. This is the first time in all your meetings with Marin that you hit more aces than Marin, 11 to 10. Have you ever thought when you started your career that this area of the game you can improve at this stage?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, of course 10 aces for him is not a big thing after four sets, for a big server like him.
I’m serving well. I think my serve improved during the last couple of years. Especially this year a little bit more. Happy the way that I am serving first serve, but especially the second serve, no? I increased the speed on that second serve. That helps a lot to be more aggressive with the first.
Of course, I always thought that I needed to improve my serve to try to have a longer career. That’s something that we have been working hard.
Q. I don’t know if you had the time to watch tennis matches today. Were you somehow surprised and can you elaborate about Berrettini, the first Italian in 42 years to reach the quarterfinals here? He beat Rublev who beat Federer, Tsitsipas, Kyrgios. Did you expect that could happen? What do you think he can do against Monfils?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is an open match. Is a match very completely open. I don’t think there is a clear favorite in that quarterfinals match between Monfils and Berrettini. Berrettini is having a great year. For me was not a big surprise his victory of today.
Maybe was a little bit favored Rublev because he was coming playing so well during the whole event. But Berrettini is having a great year, playing so well during almost in all surfaces. Play great on grass. Then he gets injured I think on clay after Wimbledon, so he didn’t play in Montreal. Probably he arrived with not much preparation to Cincinnati.
For me is not a big surprise that he’s where he is.
Q. You spoke about Tiger on the court. Did you see some of his reactions to your shots? He was almost as pumped as you.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I didn’t. I was playing tennis. But good, no? It means a lot to me to have him supporting. As I said, he’s an amazing inspiration, all the things that he accomplish on the sport, the way that he managed to keep fighting that hard. Watching him on court always been an example on the golf course, have been an example, a real inspiration for me, no?
Have him supporting and be able to be in touch with him very often for me is something that I am super happy and I hope one day we can play golf and tennis together (smiling).
Q. What do you respect most about your next opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: Everything. Every single thing of his game. He is one of the most talented players on our tour. He has everything, amazing control, amazing speed. He has the ability to read very well your shots and to understand very well the game. Is not a surprise he is there.
Before the match, I know people can think that Zverev was favored before that match. Honestly for me, today, Schwartzman was favored. Schwartzman, I saw him play a couple of matches during this tournament, he was playing great. Sascha played two matches, two or three matches close. Physical issues always I think. The other arrived fresh and playing amazing.
Even if he lost the first set when he was 2-0 and big chance for 3-0, double break, in the beginning, finally he lost the first set. After that he was playing amazing. Sascha fighted hard as always. He going to be a Grand Slam champion soon I think.
But today Diego is playing unbelievable. I need to play my best in the next round to have the chance to be in that semifinals. But the match of today I think helps.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports