Rafael Nadal: “I really believe that Djokovic doesn’t deserve to be booed”

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


  1. If an athlete has deliberately done something that has physically hurt another athlete well , to be booed would be in order..other than this being the reason, no other act by that person should be treated in that manner

  2. Djoker is one of my favorite players from the bottom of my list but I agree with Rafa, he doesn’t deserve to be booed. I understand the frustrations of the spectators who paid big money and expect to watch a full match from the world #1 and Wawrinka but injury is part of the sports. Rafa has had his fair share and last night Federer suffered upper back and neck pain although he managed to finish the match against Dimitrov.

    Stay healthy and focused and play a great match against Diego Rafa!
    All the best and Vamos💪❤️

    • Hi Mimi,

      Your first sentence through me for a loop.

      In any event, I really thought Djokovic would carry on to the final.

      I have a friend who is his fan and threatens me with plastering his office walls with HUGE pictures of Nole the next time he beats Rafa. I couldn’t stop laughing. BUT, if that happens I will have my blowtorch ready😂😂😂. The nerve /s 😬😬👎

      My friend is a traitor anyway. He used to be a Fed fan but Rafa has been stuck with me 😱😱😱 from the beginning. LOL


      • Margo, my bad LOL. I hope your friend never has that chance……👌
        Me too, I watch tennis because of Rafa since 2008🤗

      • Mimi, I asked my friend why he switched to Djokovic. I couldn’t believe his response, “Federer should have retired. I thought he retired.” I laughed so loud I almost got thrown out of his office. I’m still laughing.

        An athlete, of any stripe, will retire when he/she feels it’s time or if the body is begging for retirement.

        I called him a fickle and traitorous fan. Now he’s upset that Djokovic is out due to injury. I would have won my bet [Rafa to win vs Djokovic] had I not blabbed that Djokovic might be injured, that was before he pulled out of the US Open. So he refused to bet against Rafa. Next time I’ll keep mum.


      • Margo,

        sounds like you are right, he is a traitor😅
        We Rafa fans are better, just like our hero!👏

  3. Professional and straight forward as it should be. Med has called himself an idiot, and that says it all.
    The respect and regard Rafael Nadal has for opponents and others reflects upon his family, his team,
    and his own self belief. Blurting out every inane idea that crosses your mind may be transparent to some, but so foolish and unwise. Zverev said it-let your racquet do the talking-Fed and Rafa have paved the way-think.

    Rafael Nadal-best of luck in the next round-hear the cheering raise the roof👏💪👍🤛🍀❤️

  4. Estoy d acuerdo contigo Rafa.. DJOKO IC no merece k se le abucheara.. Una lesión la tiene un jugador en cualquier momento..
    ENHORABUENA por ese partido con Cilic.. Gran partido volveré a verlo para disfrutar d un buen tenis… Tú Rafa magistral sin despreciar a Cilic… ADELANTE!!! Rafa SIEMPRE CONTIGO!!

  5. Must say… I’m very disappointed Federer lost last night to Dimitrov… With Novak out, Roger out, it just shows their bodies are talking to them and anything can happen in a tournament… There are no guarantees…
    I was so looking forward to a Rafa/Roger final where Rafa would lift the trophy and Roger would hold the plate!

    Oh well… Rafa will still lift the trophy and whoever stands next to him… enjoy your plate!! lol


    • Oops. Sorry Marileena. Forget my last comment (brain freeze). Potentially, Rafa & Roger could have faced each other in the final if they both reached there, with Roger knocking out Novak in the semis.

      • Roger and Rafa have never, in their entire career, played eachother in the finals at the US Open… This would have been their very first and as the announcers were saying this event would have been the biggest in the history of tennis… It would have been watched worldwide by millions of people….
        I was so hoping for this as I believe this enormous opportunity is drifting away as time passes for the 2 of them…….

        Well….tonight Rafa takes on Diego and that sweet young man will feel the wrath of Rafael as Rafa is focused and playing lights out tennis….

        Rafa’s got this one!!!

        VAMOS RAFA!!!

  6. Rafa is so appreciative of the viwing public and he doesn’t disappoint, as you can always rely on him to give his best and provide us with good match entertainment. The QF against Diego won’t be a breeeze and, as he said, moving forward, the match against Marin Cilic helped him. He needed that challenge.
    I like the way that Rafa spoke out against the booing of the crowd during Novak’s match and with good reasons.

    As for Danill Medvedev, he’s a very talented player, but he tends to put his foot in his mouth where the crowd and media are concerned. I know it’s good to have characters in the sport, but it seems contrived with him somehow. Maybe he should take a leaf out of Rafa’s book when it comes to PR, instead of trying so hard to give verbal entertainment and ending up being the pantomime villain – unless of course, he deliberately set out to antagonise.

    Good luck in your QF match tonight, Rafa. Keep serving well. Aces in double figures again, please.

  7. I’m so glad he said that. Of course it’s disappointing if you’ve paid a lot of money to see a big match, and have been looking forward to it, and then someone’s injured, but you don’t want anyone to be in pain and risk making the injury worse.

  8. Cheers from the spectators are defining moments for tennis players during a match. From the highest ranked to the lower-ranked underdogs, players always point to the thrill they get when they are cheered. Some credit the cheers with helping them win a match. Cheers are powerful.

    Perversely, Medvedev said spectators’ booing helped him win his match the other day.

    And Djokovic said he had to be prepared mentally to be the underdog in his match vs Roger at Wimbledon.

    Rafa can ALWAYS count on me to cheer the loudest for him. May his fans’ cheers help him over the finish line.


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