Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his third round victory over David Goffin in Madrid.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.
Q. Just 24 hours here in Madrid and there are two moments of a lot of tensions and two incredible comebacks. You have been able to save four match points. Can you comment on that, and also in terms of what happened with Real Madrid?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the comeback was Goffin. It was him that came back. In the tiebreak he was also able to come back too. Even though I was able to save four match points, I was also winning 4-1 in the tiebreak in the last set. But, well, it’s what we had today.
Yesterday night, it’s true that it was incredible. It was unbelievable, unforgettable, for us supporters of Real Madrid, for us that we like football. It was cruel at the same time for Manchester City in that regard, but as a sportsman, I know how hard it is to lose this way so I feel sorry for them. But somehow for us, the supporters of Real Madrid, it was an incredible night.
For me, talking about my match today, it was nice to be able to play in front of my people. It’s incredible the amount of support that I received. In the medium term, it’s a good thing, victory of today, because I have been able to stay a couple of hours on court, and this is positive for my game.
It’s obvious, but for this tournament is not as positive because, as I said, I didn’t have a lot of preparation, and we have to see how I’m able to wake up tomorrow after practically two months without any preparation, so we have to be ready tomorrow, being ready to accept that tomorrow things may not be easy.
But I am happy with the victory. Gives me an opportunity to play another day. Right now we don’t have to think about tomorrow. We have to think about doing the things the best way to reach tomorrow in the best conditions.
I always said it when I came here at the beginning, we always have to think in the medium term. We knew that things were not perfect today. I played better yesterday than today. When you’re a long time without playing, you know you’re not going up all the time, that you are going to have up-and-downs, and it is difficult to be constant all the time because historically it’s been this way.
But to win, it’s very important when you have been a long time without playing, and today that’s what I was able to achieve.
Q. I saw you stepping a little bit, you seemed when you went up, it seemed your leg was not fine. I’m a little bit worried how I see you step up there.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, don’t worry. When I play, sometimes my foot pains me. If you see me every single day, you wouldn’t be worried. I always have pain in my foot, especially after playing a three-hour match or a long training. I end up walking a little bit badly.
But I have a chronic injury which has no treatment. That’s part of my life, and that’s the downside of not being able to finish the match earlier. In the short term, I think I am fine, physically speaking, but also, speaking about my feet, it has to adapt to competition. It has to adapt to the stress that matches like today have on me.
In the short therm, as I said, it’s fine, but I’m also conscious for tomorrow. It’s a little bit more complicated, because tomorrow I can wake up with more problems and we have to accept it and face it.
Q. There was an amazing moment when the crowd was shouting to you, “Yes, you can.” At the end it seemed you were also returning them the cheering up and the support to the audience, because they were always giving you the maximum support.
RAFAEL NADAL: I’m always happy about playing here. I always want to be very thankful. I have said it a million times. I am very thankful to the supporters here in Madrid.
I don’t know, 10,000, 12,000 people, they have a key impact in the decisive moments, because they always give you that extra punch. In those moments, you try to seek your final goal. In that regard, they are always there.
Sometimes I have let them down maybe, but, you know, where I’m not going to let them down is I’m trying. I’m always going to try as hard as possible. Tennistically or physically, when I cannot give 100%, I’m always going to try. Today it has been no exception. Today the only thing I can do is give them back everything that they give me and give them back the support that they give me.
Q. I wanted to ask you about tomorrow’s match. Of course Carlos is still playing. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but potentially we can have Carlos Alcaraz/Rafa Nadal tomorrow. What would you expect if that’s the match? How do you think that match is going to be and all the process that you are facing?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s a very, very tough match, of course. I think that today, he is better than me and he has a good dynamic, a good momentum. I am conscious on what we have right now. I think I am a very realistic person, and that doesn’t take me to not believe that I can win or that I can do it, but today I think that Alcaraz is in a better physical state of mind, is more fit. I came here without playing. He’s younger, so he has that extra energy.
I’m clear who, from the beginning, has some kind of advantage in tomorrow’s match. But in that regard, I will try to do as much as possible to be competitive. Of course tomorrow’s match will try to win, but whatever the outcome is, that it’s something positive for me in the future.
At the end is the most important, is not whoever is better in that sense. For him, yes, the momentum of keep on winning, but for me, at the end of the day, is who is going to be better in three weeks’ time, and that’s my goal.
Unfortunately that’s my reality right now, and that’s the goals that I have, the goals that I set to myself, because I always said I never take tournaments like Madrid, Rome as preparation to other tournaments because they are very important tournaments to me. Currently the reality is different, and I have to face it this way. Enjoy the match of tomorrow. Fight it as much as possible, knowing that in that regard, even though it sounds strange, I’m not trying to get off any pressure of me at this stage of my career. I don’t deal with the pressure, as you can imagine, but that in that regard, as you know, it seems he’s the young one and I may have the pressure in tomorrow’s match. If he wins, I don’t feel the pressure that way.
We both come here to these matches with very different circumstances and I accept it, and the only thing I can do is to face tomorrow’s match as happy as possible, with the appropriate determination, and try to seek my opportunities, and hopefully it will be useful for me for the future.
Q. You’re saying that you want to enjoy tomorrow’s match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, not to enjoy tomorrow’s match, I’m sorry if I explain myself wrongly. I want to enjoy every single match. What I want to do is win, but I’m also conscious of the moment that I am in.
Q. In the match today, do you suffer more in the third set when you are about to leave or no?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, at the end of the day you’re suffering in the match. I always said it many, many times. You have to learn on how to live with these kind of moments, and also to enjoy this kind of suffering. It’s what we work for, for thrilling moments.
At the end, I am totally honest with you at this stage of my career. I really appreciate being here, playing in front of my people, even though things are not perfect tennistically speaking. The match was there on the line. Well, you know, somehow I enjoy playing in front of my people, seeing the support that I receive. For me, it’s a present at this age to have the opportunity to continue competing and competing well, especially here at home.
It’s something unique, so I’m happy about it, happy to be able to live or experience an opportunity like today’s because it’s been thrilling. Unfortunately I was not able to close the match earlier, which I think that would have given me more options for the future of the tournament, but you never know. You never know what’s good, and, you know, I hope to recover and tomorrow I hope to be at enough high level to have my options to win.
Q. Hopefully Carlos will win. Tomorrow we are going to enjoy a match between two Spanish people. A new rivalry?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. I don’t think I will reach that rivalry. I’m 36 years old.
Q. Well, let us enjoy tomorrow’s match.
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course, of course, you can enjoy tomorrow’s match.
Q. I’m saying if we have that match tomorrow, it’s going to be amazing for the people. How do you face it? How do you face tomorrow’s potential match against Alcaraz?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. It’s natural. At the end of the day it’s a new generation. It’s happen during all history. The history repeat it, and thank God it’s good that someone like Carlos has reached this level to be able to maintain our tennistic level as high as possible for the next hopefully a lot of years.
As a supporter of tennis and sportsperson, I think it’s great to have a player like Carlos that has been able to reach this level and this strength. I think he’s a player that’s going to give us a lot of good moments in the next, I don’t know, 10, 12 years, 14. This is reality I’m talking about.
Talking about rivalry, well, I don’t know. If I had 8 or 10 years less, perhaps if Carlos had reached 10 years ago this moment, we could be talking about a new potential rivalry.
I think that at this moment he’s going to be someone that is going to win a lot of things, in my opinion, or at least he’s going to have a lot of options to achieve good things.
Talking about me, I don’t have this kind of rivalries at this stage. My opponents are Djokovic, Federer, Murray in his day. This has been my career and my rivalries.
From here onwards, I take it as another opponent that is going to compete for the most important things. He’s another opponent that we have there when competing for the most important tournaments, and it’s logic that we have new players.
In that moment, of course he’s going to disturb me tennistically, I don’t know for how long, but after that I’m just going to enjoy as a spectator seeing Carlos playing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.
Q. You today and Real Madrid did it yesterday in the same fashion, unparalleled fighting spirit that you possess. I know it’s different sports, but can you see some similarities perhaps between these two victories, and also in general between Rafa Nadal and Real Madrid?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think difficult to compare, but it’s always that our trajectory is about fighting, is about believing, is about trying till the last, until the match is done. Probably that’s why we were able to — of course, adding that Real Madrid is a great team with big talent and probably I have a good talent too, no (smiling)?
But at the same time, we, yeah, we are a kind of team and player that we try till the end and we believe. So, yeah, yesterday have been unforgettable. Today of course for me is too.
Q. I just wanted to get your thoughts on Goffin’s level today.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, David is playing much better. Happy to see him back, winning a tournament a couple weeks ago and playing a great event here, coming from the qualifying.
David have been an amazing player for such a long time, fighting for the big events and being one of the toughest opponents without a doubt, no? Then he had some issues in terms of injuries, and everybody knows how tough is come back from injuries, no?
But happy. He’s still young. I think he’s 31. He still have time ahead to keep going, and if he’s able to recover physically and he’s healthy enough, why not he can still fighting for important things?
Q. When you are coming back from injury, what is the hardest thing to refine in your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: Mobility, stability in terms of game, and of course adapt the body again, you know. Is not the same coming back from injuries when you are 20 or 19, that when you are almost 36, when you get injured, is of course first thing is recover your injury but then to put the machine again (smiling).
Working is not that easy, no? Because when you start again, you have pains, pains in different places, no? So you need to manage them. You need to manage the way that you practice, the amount of work that you can or you can’t do.
That’s why it’s much more tricky coming back at my age than when you are 20, no? Because when you are 20, your body, of course, the only thing that you need to worry is about recover your injury, because then your body always is ready to run, to fight. You feel confident.
Now when I’m coming back, the problem is not only the rib. That of course have been the main issue. But then you are coming back, then the foot is there, then the shoulder, then the back. You know, you need all the muscles that are a little bit more sensitive, because are more weak because of your career. Then appears problems, and you need to manage to come back until everything is right again.
Q. You said that you played better yesterday than today, but what about your serve? Because in the tiebreaker it was quite…
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s the best thing. In the third set, not only in the tiebreak. Third set, the serve was much better than yesterday and in the first two sets, without a doubt.
I need that serve in the third, because I see that I need something else, so have been tough to win points on return. I was not able to return long enough, and he was taking advantage from the first shot.
Then especially here in Madrid, it’s much more difficult to come back to the point, no, when the opponent is taking advantage from the beginning of the point. Especially when you play against a very talented player like David. He has all the shots and he’s able to open the court very easy.
So I needed my serve to stay in the match and I go a little bit more for it. Honestly, it worked because I start to win free points in that third set, and that helped me to arrive to the end with chances.
Of course from the baseline I need to improve, but I’m sure that — well, I am not sure, but I am confident that that’s gonna happen. I don’t know, tomorrow or in Rome or when, but sooner or later, I think I gonna recover the mobility, the intensity, the stability in terms of not having positive moments, negative moments, no, play a little bit more equal all the match. That’s matches, and days like today helps in that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports