Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his second round victory over Miomir Kecmanovic in Madrid.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.
Q. I’m sure you’re in a hurry to go watch football. Did you have trouble seeing the ball? Azarenka the other night was saying in some areas she could not see the ball properly.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we can talk about missing balls. We all miss balls in a match. The visual effect, of course it changes, playing indoor court and outdoor court. Playing with lights or without lights, you have to get used to it.
I had not played a single day here with lights on, but, well, I think that the lights are good, and I don’t think that they were a problem. I see the ball properly.
Talking about the lights, I don’t think there is any problem. Just when you go back to the court after playing on a court with a roof open and then you come back and then you have the rooftop open and the lights are on, first minutes you just have to make some adjustments and adjust to it.
Q. I would like to know are you surprised of your level in the first set after six weeks without playing? Of course how do you leave today’s match in terms of your feelings?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I leave the match very, very happy. You have to be sincere with yourself whenever you can. You have to be truthful to yourself. My preparation has not existed. You cannot expect great things at the beginning, because before coming here, coming here, first day training was last Thursday, I had trained very, very little.
I had just like trained like one day, and all trainings have had some up-and-downs, it’s been a roller coaster. I have had better days, worse days. It’s logical.
I think that yesterday I start to feel a little bit better, and today also in the prewarmup I was feeling well. I think that in general I have done a good match. First set was very good. The second set I don’t consider it a bad set, but as I am saying, when you have been a long time without competing, it’s normal that you have up-and-downs in a match because you have to recover your routine.
You have to know when you attack a ball, when you have to be conservative. Well, these are just things that only competition can give you. Physically, at some moments I was a little bit more tired than normal. At the end of the day, the rib is a problem that limits your game a lot.
There are injuries that allow you to do physical work, aerobic work. The rib has not allowed me to do anything. So I’m out of time with that, but I’m not worried. I just think that every minute that I am out there on the court is something positive.
Today I was able to play 1 hour 55 minutes against an opponent that was playing really well in these last months, so a really good victory, a lot of value to it. So 1 hour 55 minutes on court helps me a lot to reach my final goal, which is to recover my previous health and previous fitness. I’m very excited about it.
Q. How do you manage after a month and a half without competing to not see that on the court? We are seeing a lot of tennis players that it’s hard for them to go back to their routine. But for you, four months or six months out, it’s nothing. How do you achieve that? Is it mental or physical?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. You cannot achieve that. That’s the reality. When you come back from a period of not playing, it’s tough. For me, it’s tough too. It’s tricky and difficult.
I don’t know. I think I have a good capacity of being humble enough to accept that things are not going to be perfect. You just from there onwards you have to build your game. You have to build things from daily work, you have to know and accept that there are going to be errors and just look forward with excitement and determination.
I believe that it’s as hard for me as for the rest of the players, but it’s true that because of some reason during my career I have been able to come back from really complicated moments with good results and with good feelings.
But normally I was able to come back with good results, because when you come back from a period without playing, it changes a lot the fact that you win the first matches or not. This is reality. If you come back and if you win the first matches, then you’re able to get your rhythm back again. Whereas if you come back and you lose and you lose, you end up in a circle of losing that you don’t get the rhythm of matches.
So the first matches are key. They have a really big value, and for me it’s really important today’s victory for that reason.
Q. The feeling of your shots has been good? You came from less to more? How did you feel today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think the first set was better than the second one. Second one I was not playing wrongly; it’s just that I miss some balls. That’s all.
But talking about my injury, I don’t have any problem. I don’t have any pain in my rib. I had a little bit of pain at the beginning of the week, and then I went to get a MRI so they could check it, Friday or Saturday when I came here, and the image on the machine was good.
You know, I don’t have any problems with my rib. It’s a lot of things that I have to try to recover. The rib is something because of stress and, you know, you are not able to do anything. It’s very painful the first week, and the moment has been bad. But talking injuries, they normally happen, I had them in my knee, my ankle. Those ones are important but this one with the rib is just a matter of time. It’s a determinate amount of time where you have to be calm between five and seven weeks.
Mentally for me it’s easier to handle this kind of injuries, but for me difficult to handle it because of the moment. But when you have a lot of injuries like me, you know that you are able to come back, so mentally it’s easier when you have a fixed amount of time that you will be able to come back.
Q. Last time the stadium was 50% audience because of COVID, and today we have them again at 100%. I want to ask about that connection you have with the Spanish people and the Spanish team.
RAFAEL NADAL: Playing in Spain is something really, really important, and here in Madrid, the support and love of the people it’s always been unconditional. I am conscious of my age that I don’t know how many more times I’m going to be able to have the opportunity to play here in front of these people, so I just try to enjoy it as much as possible.
I had really good moments in this court. I don’t know how many times left I have to play in this city. Both now and before in the Palacio de Cristal, we used to play over there Davis Cup, it’s something amazing, and me personally, I can only say thank you. I can only thank them, because there are things you feel when you play on this court in front of your people, it’s something hard to find in other courts around the world.
Q. I want to ask you about Marc. He retires today. Champion of Masters with Marcel, champion of Grand Slam with Feliciano, and gold medal with you. He is your friend, and now he is on your team. Can you talk about the career of Marc and how does he influence your team and yourself as a person?
RAFAEL NADAL: To Marc, I recover him. He was going downhill in his career (smiling). I’m kidding, kidding.
I think that Marc has had a typical career. It’s true that he was going through a tough moment when he started to play doubles, and I think that he’s starting to play doubles because just of one circumstance, not because of a personal decision.
In the individual matches he was not playing so well, and it was a circumstance incredibly great that we were able to play in Doha, to win afterwards in Indian Wells, next we were able to play Indian Wells, and from there onwards starting to build his sports career. After that we know Marc has a unique talent. This is a reality, and he has worked for it.
All the merit to him, all the merit to what has happened to him for different reason. First of all because he’s a very good person, above anything else. It’s always good that good things happen to good people. He’s a good person. In that regard, I think that he has achieved things that no other people had achieved in doubles in this country.
I also think that many of his moments I have been able to share them with him as a colleague. So I have him in my team. It’s true officially he has retired, but you never know, right? There can always be a tournament out there you can play doubles. If so, he will have to play doubles with me, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.
Q. It looked like Nalbandian was showing you the spot of your last serve on the court. Was he having a laugh about that? Were you surprised Miomir didn’t challenge that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Was two marks there. One was good; one was out. I am not sure, but I think the ball was out, but I am not sure. Difficult to talk.
By the way, the problem now is you have to call it very quick. That’s what umpire told us before the match, no? If you can see very quick, you can do it, and I think the problem is Miomir didn’t see it really quick and I was already on the net.
I don’t know. I didn’t see the ball. After, when I was at the net, I saw that one ball was a little bit out. I don’t know if he had the chance to ask for this or not. By the way, he was very fair that he didn’t even try it.
Q. You have these setbacks such as the one recently. How do you deal with that mentally to always come back so strongly like you did again today?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think, no, it’s about talking about every comeback is different. We had to put all circumstances together to analyze every single comeback, and today have been a very important match for me, playing at home on clay against a player that have been playing well for the last couple of months.
So put everything together have been a very tough first round. I think I managed it very well. I played at a good level, so very pleased with the victory. I just try to stay humble to know things not going to be perfect here and just moving forward with the right determination, to accept that I need to fight, I need to stay positive, I need to play with the right attitude, and take every single match that I’m able to win like a present to play another time here.
Q. I hope it’s okay if I don’t ask a tennis question but you looked at your watch already.
RAFAEL NADAL: I like it.
Q. Are you in a hurry because you…
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s very beautiful.
Q. Maybe it’s because you want to leave and go to Bernabeu. What do you expect from this game tonight against Man City?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know what to expect. I just expect to enjoy the match and of course I hope to win, but at the end, of course I want to leave but I know that’s my job too. But, yeah, going to be a spectacular atmosphere there. I would love to arrive a little bit before (laughter), but I am answering the questions enough well and I think long enough (smiling), to be fair with you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports