Rafael Nadal reveals he doesn’t wake up thinking “I’m the king of clay”

Rafael Nadal talks to the media after securing his place in the quarterfinals at the Roland Garros.

Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images

THE MODERATOR: Well done. You know and respect Felix so much. What do you think made the difference in the end?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, made the difference that I played a little bit better. That’s, in the end, the sport is normally very simple, no? When you play better you have better chances; if you play worse, then you have of course less chances, no?

In that case, when I played well, I won the match. When I played not that well, I had a lot of troubles, no? Because first set I didn’t play well, so I lost. And then after the set, after the first set and a half I started to play much better, in my opinion, much more aggressive. Then I played a good end of the second set and I think a very good third set.

Then I make super mistake at the beginning of the fourth when the situation already changed and I was on control of the match, and then I suffered.

But most important thing that I played again I think a good fifth set, and especially the last three, four games I played with the right dimensions, so very happy for that.

All the respect and credit to Felix that he’s playing better and better. If you are not able to push him back is very difficult to control him, because he has a huge serve and first shot with his forehand, yeah, is very aggressive.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. What do you do during the next 36 hours after playing such a long match today to get your body ready for the test that you will probably have to endure on Tuesday? What is your recovery routine like?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I mean, go, have some stretching, my physio. Then eat something probably (smiling). Have some sleep. Have a good practice tomorrow and rest tomorrow afternoon. That’s it. Nothing special. You can’t do much. Just expect and hopefully I will be healthy enough to have a good practice tomorrow. That’s it.

Q. Everyone calls you the king of clay. So what’s it feel like for you when the fans call you the king of clay? Do your friends and family ever call you the king of clay? Do you ever wake up in the morning and think, Wow, I’m the king of clay?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, nobody call me in that way, in my family or even in my close group of people. Not at all. No.

I never feel that way. Of course I achieved more than the rest on this surface, so I don’t need to be called the king of nothing (smiling). I know what I did in my tennis career, and especially in this surface.

And that’s it. No, no. Nothing else.

Q. Looking forward to the Djokovic match and your level today, what do you think you have to do better if you have the memories from the last time you met in the semifinals at Roland Garros?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don’t know 100%, because I don’t have a close test against him, because my last match against him was, I think, last year here.

I didn’t play this kind of matches for the last three months, so gonna be a big challenge for me. Of course he already won I think last nine matches in a row, winning in Rome and now winning here in straight sets every match. Probably he will be confident.

Yeah, I mean, I know how is my situation, and I accept it well. I gonna fight for it. No, no, that’s it.

I can’t complain much. I am in quarterfinals of Roland Garros. Two weeks and a half ago, even if I had good hopes after, positive hopes after Rome, I even don’t know if I would be able to be here.

So just enjoying the fact that I am here for one more year. And being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if gonna be my last match here in Roland Garros in my tennis career, no? That’s my situation now.

Of course I went through a tough process again with my foot, so I don’t know what can happen in the near future with my career. But that’s why I am just trying to enjoy as much as possible and fight as much as I can to keep living the dream that is keep playing tennis and be back in a very advanced round of Roland Garros, playing against the World No. 1.

Let’s see. I hope to be able to give myself a chance to play at the highest level possible and then let’s see.

Q. This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the title of Spanish legend Andres Gimeno. He’s still to this day the oldest champion in the history of the tournament. Wonder if you had some thoughts on the legacy that he left behind.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. Well, I was able to met him for a lot of years. Yeah, I mean, he was one of the most important players in our history.

Yeah, sad that he is not able to be here. That’s life. In some way his legacy and his memory are going to stay with us, without a doubt.

Q. In the next match, two World No. 1s against one another. For you, what’s the best and what is the toughest thing about being No. 1 when you were No. 1?

RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, no, I don’t know. In which way?

Q. The pressures or what did you enjoy? What was the difficult part of being No. 1? What was the really good thing about being No. 1?

RAFAEL NADAL: You know what, Craig? In my case, I can’t clear answer your question, because even when I was No. 1, I never considered myself No. 1. So I don’t take it, for me, just a number, at the end. For me and my approach to my diary basis and all my goals in every tournament that I play, never changed if I was No. 1 or if I was No. 3 or No. 6, no?

So in that way, I never felt an extra pressure for being No. 1 or an extra happiness for being No. 1. Of course when you achieve the No. 1, it’s a beautiful moment. But then I never waked up in the morning thinking, Okay, I am the No. 1 (smiling).

I just had a normal life being No. 1, being No. 5, or being No. 100, no?

In my personal case, I just worked, doesn’t matter the number, the same way to try to improve, and that’s it, no?

In that case, I never felt an extra pressure for being No. 1 or for hold the No. 1, no, because my pressure have been always the same. It’s just try to be ready for every tournament that I play.

Q. We all saw you at the Stade de France last night. Wonder if you could describe your experience of the evening and what time you got to bed as well?

RAFAEL NADAL: Not late, because I was lucky to go out. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to be in my first Champions League final in my life, and my team won, no?

So have been a happy night, without a doubt. Even if was tough to get there, honestly. But I enjoyed. Have been one of the most crazy titles in terms of one team winning a Champions League, the way that they achieved this title is just I think unforgettable, because every match Real Madrid played have been something special.

Comebacks, very tough moments, and even yesterday Courtois was amazing, and I was not able to see the celebration, honestly, because unfortunately with the half an hour delay, I thought that was the right moment to go to the bed after the end of the match.

So unfortunately I was not able for the celebration, but I feel super lucky that I was able to enjoy a final like this, so I just thanks Real Madrid and the UEFA for inviting me and my family.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. Reading this article on 2 June (3 June in Paris – I’m in Las Vegas) – I cannot get over the stupid questions the press ask him about being No. 1 etc. after ALL THIS TIME of his saying that doesn’t matter to him – and they still ask?! Really? I’d like to know what he has for breakfast or dinner more than what he feels about being ranked! Rafa DID beat Novak and he WILL win this Championship! Even if he doesn’t hoist the championship trophy – he is ALWAYS the winner in our eyes! Vamos Rafa!

  2. A victory over Novak would propel Rafa to this trophy . I think it’s a distinct possibility and Rafa is the biggest believer .

  3. Like a lazer beam my eyes, my mind, my heart are all focused on Rafa. Wishing him a great match tomorrow.

  4. The draw really is awful. Rafa and Nole meet in the QFs, winner probably to play Carlitos. Meanwhile, in the bottom half, Stef is out and, barring a very big twist in this match, Daniil’s going out too.

  5. The ubaldo wannabe who asked the absolutely idiotic “KING OF CLEHHH” question is a U.K Yorkshire reporter named Jonathan pinfield. More like pinhead.

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