Q. From your point of view, what makes Novak so difficult these days? What are the key factors? RAFAEL NADAL: Everything. Hitting amazing. Well, the return always amazing. This year he serving great, I think. And then he is able to play with no mistakes and changing directions so easy, playing so, so long. He's doing everything good.
He was better than me and he deserved to do what he did during the whole season. He played just fantastic. When somebody's doing like this, just the only thing I can do is congratulate him and just wish not the best of luck for the next year (smiling).
Q. I observed in these last months you changed something about your forehand technique. I think you play more forward, more flat, less spin, you attack more. What is your next step of improvement in your technique? RAFAEL NADAL: No, my technique, we didn't try to change the technique of nothing. I think the technique was good. Another thing is the position on court. Another thing is the way that I play the points. I think I improved that a lot last couple of months.
My next step is just keep practicing the way that I am doing. I know I need to keep improving things if I want to have chances against Novak next year. That's what I going to try. Just keep working the way that I am doing.
I think I am doing well. Happy about the tournament. Happy about finish the season with that positive energy. Now I have a week off, and that's it.
Q. Today did you think you felt the effects of your match yesterday against David, a long match? RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, I don't think so.
Q. Is it tough not to feel frustrated in a match like that, or you just don't have time to be frustrated and you have to be concentrating on trying to turn it around? RAFAEL NADAL: You know, very few moments in my career I get frustrated. When one player is better than you, the only thing you can do is try to find solution. That's what I try during the match. But was not a real solution today.
So just accept that the opponent is better than me today and keep working hard to try to reduce that difference that I believe in the last couple of months, because he cannot improve much, I think I could improve a lot, so I reduce a little bit the distance. Not with Novak, but with the rest of the top guys. I was able to compete with everybody. That's a big improvement for me.
But that's not enough for me. I want to keep going and I want to feel myself better than what I am doing today for next year. I going to work hard to make that happen.
Q. In the off-season do you and the other top guys think about, How can we beat Novak? He's always there at the end of every tournament. In most tournaments you have to beat Novak to win. RAFAEL NADAL: For the moment, yes. I never practice thinking about others. I practice thinking about what I have to do to be better, then we'll see if I am enough good.
I think about my personal motivation to keep improving the things that we believe we need to improve to be better players, and that's it.
Everyone has a different motivation. I never practice thinking what do I have to do to beat Novak, what do I have to do to beat Roger. My motivation has always been just personal, that I want to improve myself, I want to be better. That's what I going to try to keep doing.
We'll see. 2016 going to be a new year. Hopefully better one for me. We'll see.
Novak for the moment is almost unbeatable. As I say before, the only thing you can do is congratulate him. But things are like this today. You never know what's going on in the future. I have been in very good situations a couple of times, then I get some injuries, things change. Not everything is that easy.
What Novak is doing is just amazing. But is obvious that it's true if somebody can do it, it's him, but it's not easy to stay at that high level four years in a row or five years in a row.
Q. I don't know if you will watch it or not, but next week's Davis Cup Final, what are your thoughts on it? Do you think clay is a good surface for Belgium? RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know if I going to watch it. I have a charity event for my foundation, and Olazabal won. I probably going to be in the golf course doing the event.
I don't know if clay is a good surface for Belgium or not. I think is the right one, yes. For Belgium is the surface that probably has a better chance because the second player of Great Britain is Bedene or who is playing?
It's true that probably both players play better on hard than in clay. I don't think about Andy because Andy plays very well in every surface. But for the second player, I think for Belgium in his mind is probably try to win both points against the No. 2, then try to win the doubles. If I am Belgium, that's what's going to be in my mind.
Then if I am able to win a match against Andy, fantastic. But that's what I believe they should think, and probably that's why they choose clay.
Q. Back to you trying to beat Novak, but concentrating on your own game. In 2011 you lost seven finals against him. In 2012 and 2013 you were back beating him in majors at that stage. What did you do and are there lessons to learn to come back on how you maybe can beat him next year? RAFAEL NADAL: You ask me questions about the future. I cannot predict the future. I cannot say what going to happen in a few months, what going to happen in the next year.
The only thing that I can talk is what can happen if I am able to keep improving, no? In 2011, I lost a lot of finals in a row. He was playing fantastic, too. I didn't play against him at the right level to compete against him.
The last two finals that I lost against him before my first victory in Monte-Carlo I think was final of the US Open. That was helping me for the future. And of course to have final in Australia keep helping me for the future, too.
I didn't have that kind of feeling, I was not that close against him yet. Against other rivals I was competing great, and that's it. As I said before the tournament, I was not able to think about Novak for the whole season. I have been playing in another league. Seems like the last month and a half, two months, I was in this league, I am in this top league.
So my motivation and my goal is try to keep being in that top league, that is the top five, top four of the world. That's my goal, and we'll see if I am able to keep doing this.
Q. You've had injuries in your career that have kept you off the tour. You're going to be 30 next year. After playing this season, how do you feel your body is? Are you more or less confident that your body is going to stay strong? Secondly, Novak tied his rivalry with you in his head-to-head. He has a chance to do that if he plays Roger. How important are these head-to-heads among rivals? RAFAEL NADAL: I think the head-to-head records are a statistic one more. To analyze who is better or worst is a global thing, no? Is just one more statistic.
Well, I think is fair and is great. I don't want to be arrogant, but between two good players, Novak and me, have a very tight head-to-head. I think that's normal. Is completely normal, and that's it.
Q. And your body. How do you feel? RAFAEL NADAL: Today I'm feeling good. My body is healthy, is strong. I feel good physically. I am able to practice a lot. I am able to compete great in long matches, too.
Today I am not worried about my body. I was much more worried when I started this season than how I am today. I played the full season with not many problems. I finished the season healthy, with good health.
That's so important for me to keep practicing, have confidence in my body, my movements, and another important thing: if you want to improve your game, you need to practice. So for sure one of the reasons of my improvement is because I lost the strange feelings on court that I had during the season. Another reason is because I am able to practice as much as I can every day. That's a big help.
Q. You just said that Novak was almost unbeatable. You played him at his peak. You played Roger at his peak. Is it possible or impossible to compare the two of them when they were at their very best? RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, is possible but I don't want to do it (smiling).
Thank you very much. Have a good Christmas and Happy New Year. See you next year.
Q. It seems you were not thinking about your semifinal; you were thinking only about today's match because you worked very hard today.
RAFAEL NADAL: That's the thing that I believe, should be like this. By the way, for me is an important victory. Doesn't matter if I was qualified. As I said before, for me the main goal is try to arrive in good shape next year. Today was an opportunity to play against another of the top eight players of the world in a tough surface, good surface for him. I think he likes to play here.
For me was another opportunity to compete. I think I competed well. I won a very tough match. I think a very good match in terms of quality for moments. I am very happy. Three straight wins against top-eight players, that's a great news for me.
Q. Are you concerned you might be a bit tired tomorrow now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe. But I am not worried about it, no. Today was an opportunity, as I say before, to compete well. 200 points are not the same when you are No. 1 and No. 2 than when you are No. 5. Winning today is almost like winning a 250 tournament. Was a lot of points to win today. I fighted to made that happen, no?
That's a positive way to finish the season. Let's see tomorrow what's going to happen. But I am very happy about what I did in the last five weeks of the season. I finish the season the way that I really want to start the next one.
Q. You talk about building form and confidence for 2016. How much of a boost for your preparation for 2016 would it be to beat Novak tomorrow?
RAFAEL NADAL: That's another step. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is a really difficult match against a player who is playing just better, (indiscernible) I believe. I need to play my best to have any chance. That's what I going to try. But the right work is done. Lot of positive things during the last weeks. Very good confirmation this week.
So tomorrow is another opportunity to compete against the best, to see if I am able to compete at a very high level again.
But for me the main thing is keep going the same way, keep practicing the same way, the same things I am doing to try to start next year with that energy that I have today. If I am able to keep playing like this, I think next year can be a positive year for me.
Q. Can you talk about the challenge that Novak presents right now. Do you have to change tactics? You played him a few weeks ago and the score was not so close.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the score was very easy, 6-2, 6-2. The first set was not that easy in terms of game, without a doubt. The match should be closer. But at the end of the day was 6-2, 6-2. That's it.
Let's see tomorrow if I am able to win more games.
Q. And tactics?
RAFAEL NADAL: The tactic in tennis is small things that you can change. The best tactic possible is play very, very well. That's the easier tactic. Then there is a couple of things that you know you have to do when you play against some players.
Against Novak, I know what I have to do. But be very difficult to make it. Is a big challenge. But I am not worried about it. I am happy about the things, how are going. Tomorrow is another step. Is a motivation for me to play that match, but at the same time I feel that I did what I had to do until today.
I play well, and that's the thing I going to bring back home. I hope tomorrow have a great day and compete well and then we'll see.
Q. A lot of people, top players, say one of the most important things about maintaining the ability to play at the very top is to get sufficient rest, to take weeks off. Roger says his vacations are very important. You're now coming to the off-season just at the time when you're getting your best form back together again. We know you're playing the IPTL. Are you going to keep practicing or take a vacation?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn't make the right work. I don't deserve vacation this year (smiling). I going to have next couple of days after here. Yes, I have some days off, that week only. Then next Friday, Saturday and Sunday I have the charity event for my foundation. Olazabal won both event in Mallorca for that three days.
I going to practice physical performance. I not going to practice tennis next week, but probably Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I going to be in the gym starting. Then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I going to practice a little bit of tennis and physical performance still. Then IPTL.
For me is like being in Mallorca practicing. I going to be practicing a lot every day. It's like preparation for next season. That's it.
I come back to Mallorca. I have 14 to 22 that Joao Sousa is coming to practicing in Mallorca, few more days, then Abu Dhabi.
Q. Is this the best you've felt, full of energy, that you can remember? Sometimes at the end of the year you've arrived here very tired out from a long season. You seem very fresh this year.
RAFAEL NADAL: I am well. When you are coming after a tough period, when you feel you are better, you breathe better. You feel fresh. In terms of motivation for me, is great to see myself competing against the best already and competing well. That's a lot of positive energy for me.
At the same time I am working so hard outside of the competition to compete well on the tournaments. So when that happens, that's give me very good energy for keep going.
Q. Back to Novak again. Do you have to attack more here, go to the net, attack with the forehand, the backhand? Is it all the same?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am playing well. I going to try to keep playing the way I am playing. Then maybe is not enough. But I cannot go crazy. I cannot go on the court and thinking that I have to do something that I cannot do it.
I going to try to play my game. I going to try to play aggressive. I going to try to be strong mentally. I know the surface is better for him than for me obviously. So the things are in his part.
He plays in a very good surface for him. He plays a tournament that he won already couple of times. He come here after having an amazing season. All the positive things are for him.
But for me is a motivation. I know that, and I am here to try my best tomorrow. Then if is not enough what I have today, it's fine. I going to keep working to keep improving the things that I need to do to try to be in better shape next time that I going to compete against him.
Tomorrow is an opportunity for me to play well, to see how far I am, and we'll see.
Q. Talking about rivalries, obviously you've had a few rivalries, with Novak and Roger certainly being out in front. Are you able to explain which one might be more special? Closer with Novak, but with Roger it's been so much longer.
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, I am happy to be part of that great rivalries. Both are I think great for the sport.
Different rivalries. I think against Federer what makes little bit more special for everybody is the combination of styles. That makes the match a little bit more tactic, the match little bit more interesting that one try to do one thing, the other try to do the other thing. Probably that makes our confrontation little bit more special for the people.
But for me, seriously, I feel happy to compete against that players. Both are probably one of the best of the history, the other one he is already one of the best of the history but he going to be better in the next couple years.
I feel happy to be part of that rivalries, and at the same time unlucky to be part of this era combined with them.
Q. Do you have the motivation, extra motivation, because you could create history here? You would have every single title in your grasp if you won this week.
RAFAEL NADAL: My motivation have been always high in every tournament. I don't try harder here than in another tournament because I didn't win, that I try harder in Roland Garros than Doha. Is not true. When I go on court, I try my best every single week. Some weeks the things go well, the other weeks the things go worse.
But for sure I would love to win here in the World Tour Finals. Is true that is always a very, very difficult thing to make that happen. But we'll see. We'll see. I going to keep fighting. Hopefully is not the last chance this year.
Q. That's the highest-ranked player you've beaten since the French Open last year. How proud are you of the win?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is an important victory obviously because that put
me in a good position to try to be in the semifinals, and at the same
time I have a big day against a great player in a tough surface.
I just happy the way that I play today, happy the way I working, as I
say the other day. Just another step for me be able to play at that
level against such a great player is good news. Happy for that. Just
want to try to keep working the same way to keep confirming that I am in
the completely right direction.
Q. You've talked in recent weeks about the rest of this year
being about getting yourself in perfect shape for next year. What does a
victory like this mean for you going into next year?
RAFAEL NADAL: The victories are important because at the end of the day
that's confidence on the things that you are doing off court, no,
outside of the competition. I know I am in the right way, as I said,
since Montréal. I am playing much better, practicing very well,
practicing a lot. Then you need results to confirm that.
But I am quite confident when I feel that I am finding that direction,
that way, on my practices, that sooner or later the positive results can
arrive. So I believe that the last four tournaments, the positive
results, the good feelings on court in terms of enjoying myself, in
terms of image, is much better. That's important for me because I know I
worked to find the level that I am today.
But is just the beginning. I need to keep working so hard to try to
keep going the same way. Not everything going to be like this. As I
said the other day, when you come back from a period like I had, is like
this, is like this. But the line is very positive, no? So happy for
that. And obviously is an important victory for me and important day.
Q. Are you surprised that it's indoors that you get your confidence back when it was not always your cup of tea?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, indoor is a little bit more difficult, but not
impossible. When I am playing well, I think I have been competitive in
all the surfaces. But is true that always have been little bit tougher
to play well on indoors than outdoors. At the same time I played lot of
tournaments very bad in outdoors this year.
So is good to finish the year with this positive energy. I hope remain
at least hopefully two more matches here. I hope to finish the year
with that positive feeling, that positive energy, keep competing well in
terms of mentality, in terms of tennis, and then let's see.
Q. When you feel that you are regaining your confidence, how
does that translate on the court? Does it mean you feel like you can
take more risks? Do you feel like you're moving quicker? Do you feel
like you can use more areas of the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: The sport in general is simple. It's quite simple. This
is not a big deal about tennis or the sport in general. Normally it is
not that complicated.
But in that case for me, when I feel that I am able to have more times
the control of the point, when I feel when I going to hit the ball I
know the ball going to goes in, when I don't think about how to hit the
ball, but when I think just about where to hit the ball, that's good
news when all these things happens.
This year, because things that we talked about enough, I was just
worried about how to hit the ball to don't miss more than try to hit the
ball where I need to hit the ball to damage the opponent or try to
compete, just compete against the opponent. This year I have been more
worried about myself than the opponents for a lot of matches. That's
enough, no? That's impossible to compete at the highest level.
Today I feel free. I feel enjoying on court. That don't mean I going
to play well on every match. That means I am happy. I go day by day.
Happy how the things are going the last couple of weeks. I think was
late on the year, but at the same time is at least the right time I try
to finish the year with that positive feeling. That helps to try to
start next year in better shape.
Q. I don't know if you saw what happened today in the first
sets during a changeover, Andy Murray got some scissors out of his bag
and cut his hair. I wondered if you have ever cut your hair, especially
on a tennis court?
RAFAEL NADAL: No idea about what happened. You asked him why?
Q. He said the hair got into his eyes.
RAFAEL NADAL: Was not at the right time to know that. He has practice before to try to know that (smiling).
Was good. Is a good solution, yeah.
Q. You defeated Wawrinka. Now you've beaten Murray. How far do you consider you are from the elite, Djokovic and Federer?
RAFAEL NADAL: Andy is the No. 2 of the world today. The ranking in
tennis is fair. The ranking in tennis is the result of long period of
time, is one year. So if you are on the injuries, these kind of things,
the ranking is not fair. But if you are able to compete the whole
year, as I did, as Novak did, as Andy did, as Roger did, as Wawrinka
did, then the ranking is fair.
Djokovic deserve to No. 1, Andy deserve to No. 2, and Roger deserve No.
3, Wawrinka No. 4, and me No. 5. I don't know how far I have been. I
have been winning the matches against the No. 2 and the No. 4 in
straight sets. If we don't know that I lost a lot this year and I
played bad for a lot of moments this year, and we arrive here, for
example, with a normal year playing well, probably we will be here
talking that I am playing great and I am at my normal level, competing
against the best players.
Knowing what happened during the whole year, I don't know how far I am.
I won two great matches against two players, top-four players, in a
tough surface for me. Today I here. Tomorrow I don't know where I
going to be.
Q. Your volleys were quite good today. You won 11 out of 13 net points. Do you try to get to the net more often?
RAFAEL NADAL: I go to the net when I am confident. I go to the net when
I am hitting the ball well, when I'm able to play aggressive. When
that happens is because I am playing well.
Not always, but a lot of times my volley works well when I am going to the net.