Rafael Nadal: ‘Everybody has mistakes and you need to keep going after the mistakes’

(Photo by Hannah Fountain – CameraSport via Getty Images)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you remember a time in your career where you have come back from so far behind? Or is this match so unique that you could call it one of the best performances of your career?
RAFAEL NADAL: No (smiling). No, no, is not one of the best performance of my career, no? Not at all. I really hope that I can play better.

I have been better than the other day, of course. I have been playing a better level of tennis than the first day in general terms. Then win this match is a combination of a lot of things: lucky, some mistakes of Daniil, some good moments of myself at the end.

But in general terms, knowing that I was not able to practice the way that I would like before the tournament, be able to increase the level since two days ago to today like this is a very positive thing and I’m very happy with this. Win or lose is another story.

Q. How your mental toughness or Daniil’s lack of mental toughness played a role in this third set?
RAFAEL NADAL: Daniil is super tough mentally. He showed everybody during all this year what he achieved. If you are not able to be very solid mentally, is impossible, honestly.

So today is one of these days that, as I said on the court, one time of one thousand you lose this match, and it happened today. Very happy for that. Very sorry for him, honestly, because lose a match like this is tough, and it’s painful. I feel very sorry for Daniil. He’s a good guy, I think, and anyway, he should be very proud about all the things that he’s doing.

Q. How can you practice or prepare for a match against a specific player like Daniil Medvedev even in terms of a hitting partner or practice partner?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no, you can’t find a hitting partner to play, not only with Daniil but with no one you can prepare, because every player is different, no?

But we have been playing together for such a very long time in the final of the US Open, so we know each other well. And, yes, he’s a wall from the baseline and he’s able to serve well. He’s able to do a lot of things that are difficult, very difficult to make that happen. Especially he’s able to change the dynamic of the match when the things are not going the way that he want.

He’s able to change the way he plays. For example, I saw the match in Cincinnati against Novak that he started to serve huge first and second. Against me in New York that he did just a few serve and volley during the whole tournament. Against me, he started to do serve and volley and playing down the line big shots when normally he plays more cross.

He’s able to change. And when a player have that ability and the mind open to do these things when the things are not in the right way is because he’s very solid mentally and a player that should be in the highest position of the rankings for a long time.

Q. Brad Gilbert said for you this year one major is a good year and two majors is a great year. Regardless of what happens here and at Davis Cup, has this been a great year or even a special year for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: What do you mean about Davis Cup?

Q. Regardless of what happens the rest of this year for you.

Q. Yeah, has this been a great year or a special year? Or just a good year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I mean, a very positive year for me, no? Honestly, I achieved two slams and I achieved in Rome and Montreal, and I have been competing well.

I did a lot of semifinals during the whole year, no?

Q. (Question off microphone.)
RAFAEL NADAL: Honestly, I did the final of Australian Open, too. Semifinals of Wimbledon. Have been a very solid year from my side, no? And especially with all the problems that I had at the beginning of the season, that doesn’t matter, but is another thing that I have to add to the year, no?

To be able to come back that way, having a very positive year in all ways. So very happy about the things. Yeah, I don’t know what can answer to Brad Gilbert.

Q. He called it a great year.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know the word, but for me, have been — yeah, “great” is fine.

Q. How do you feel physically after such a three-hour fight?
RAFAEL NADAL: Good. I am fine. Thank you.

Q. At 1-5, match point down, what was your mindset? What were you thinking at that moment? How could you turn it around?
RAFAEL NADAL: In that moment, what you think is probably in five minutes you are in the locker room, because that’s the more normal thing.

I don’t know. In that moment, you play with not much pressure because, you know, you are almost lost.

I played a great point, and then I was able to save that game. Even with 5-2 is so difficult to think about comeback against a player like Daniil. And especially in indoor. In clay, still you have more chances because normally you play more points. But here, you are in his hands.

But at some point, with the 5-3, of course I started to believe, because being only one break away, why not? I need to be there. I need to create the moment and I need to put the pressure.

I think I played a good game in the 5-2. I created that pressure on him. And then of course he made couple of mistakes, no? But I think I played a good tiebreak later, too.

Q. Is this a game that could be easily shown to young academies, like yours and any other in the world, and pass the message to the young guys that they should never quit, they should fight until the last point? Is it one of those games?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, examples are not for one day. Examples are every day. And in my opinion, the example is not the comeback, because the comeback is — of course you need to be there and you need to keep fighting, but the example, in my opinion, is not break a racquet when you are 5-1 in the third or not be out of your self-control when the things are not going the right way.

Just staying positive, staying on court, accepting that the opponent is playing a little bit better than you and accepting that you are not that good. That’s the only example, no? Because sometimes the frustration comes when you believe and you consider yourself too good and you don’t accept the mistakes that you are doing.

So something that not happen to me very often, and I know I can have mistakes and I normally accept it. That’s the only thing.

And for me that’s the only example that I can try to tell the guys. Don’t consider themself too good. Accept the mistakes, because everybody have mistakes and you need to keep going after the mistakes. That’s the only way.

Q. After being worried a few days ago about your abdominal muscle, are you particularly happy the way you served today? Do you consider it a key factor for your win more than other times?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I think I have been serving well during the whole season, honestly. Today was another positive day in that terms.

No, no, no, I really don’t think the other day, for example, the problem was the serve even if he had breaks for me. Considering that I was not able to practice the serve at all or just a little bit before the match, the other day I was serving really decent. The problem was another.

Today the serve worked well again. I think that the beginning of the third I was two breaks down, but I didn’t play that bad. Just couple of points there, and he play well and I make a couple of mistakes on the volley, too. And that’s it. No, no, the serve I’m happy with.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. I’m literally crying. Thanks, Rog! 😉 Also I hope Novak is OK.

    Congratulations Rafa on number 1, as you deserve for an incredible season, especially after all that happened at the start of the year. Awesome.

  2. I have no idea what I’m gonna do with my life after when Rafa hangs up his racquet for the final time.
    Please let Rafa win the ATP Nitto finals. He has earned the right to be Year End no 1.
    He’s a fighter.

    VAMOS RAFA No 1 always for us Rafa fans.

  3. YES, Rafa is the man! I honestly
    believe tennis will NOT be the same
    when he retires…but until then,
    Win! Rafa Win!

  4. YES, Raffa is the man! I honestly
    believe tennis will NOT be the same
    when he retires…but until then,
    Win! Raffa Win!

  5. He is such a great and humble player we love Rafa all over the world one the best human being vamossssssssss Rafa good luck tomorrow morning .🎾😘❤️💪👍👍💪🎾😘❤️👍💪🎾😘🇺🇸

  6. Rafa is the Goat. He is such a great and humble player. He should be the poster for tennis. Love you Rafa. Stay healthy.
    Carmen #1 Fan

  7. Hi fellow Rafa fans, please can any of you explain why the official ATP stats say that Rafa played 16 tournaments this year when we know he missed 3 Masters 1000 through injury? His achievement this year is particulary outstanding because he has played fewer tournaments than his nearest rivals.

    In the whole GOAT debate, especially the GSs, I also wonder how the ratio of Slams entered/won pans out over the years. Rafa has missed a number of them, again, through injury.

    I SO hope he will win the O2 final and be year end number One, but whatever happens, he’ll always be my absolute favorite and number One. He has given all us fans so much joy and excitement for so many years. Vamos Rafa.

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