article barcelona2011

Rafa: I'm not unbeatable on clay


Rafa Nadal: "If you're just a clay-court specialist, you can't possibly be in the Top-5"

Rafael Nadal arrived in Barcelona last night after winning his seventh title in Monte Carlo. The #1 is here to play in the Conde de Godó this week. Last year he could not take part because he was injured but he dominated the tournament from 2005 to 2009. At a press conference this morning, the Balearic player pointed out the tradition and worth of this tournament, as well as taking stock of his start to the season.

Rafa Nadal is once again top seed in the Conde de Godó, a tournament he considers "special". He will make his debut on Wednesday against the winner of Daniel Gimeno-Traver/Potito Starace. Also present will be other world class players such as Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Jürgen Melzer and David Ferrer, his latest victim in Montecarlo. "There are many Top-10 (7 in fact) in the draw this year and it will be more attractive for the public." The world #1 congratulated the organisation for managing to obtain an ATP 500 of such high quality, considering how tight the calendar is. Rafa does not see the Godó as a clay warm-up tournament but as an event he lovingly marks on his calendar: 

"Barcelona is not just training practice for Roland Garros," he stated.

Despite being considered "The King of Clay", Rafa knows that his being the best tennis player in the world at the moment has also to do with him playing well on other types of surface. 
"Nowadays, if you're just a clay-court specialist, you can't possibly be in the Top-5," 
 confessed the Mallorcan, who still keeps on with his motto of continuing to improve:

"I see it that I have to keep working to be able to play well in Barcelona, not just to get to the end of the season playing well. I can't be thinking of Roland Garros now. I have to be more aggressive, serve better and finish points off with more authority and vigour."

Only week he can gain points

Rafa explained that his victory in Monte Carlo gives him really valuable peace of mind, as well as a cushion of points, but he repeated that he was not out to defend points. "This is the only week I'm not going to drop points. If I lose in the first round, I'll stay exactly the same, but it's a big mistake to think of defending points. You have to think of earning points. This is a 500 pointer, there are only three in the whole year, and Barcelona is the one that has most history and is of most importance," he affirmed. "Verdasco's absence is neither here nor there. Each one of us makes up his calendar as he pleases and as it suits him, he'll have his reasons," he said. "The clay-court calendar is tight enough, you have to accept his decision... It (Barcelona) is indispensable on my calendar and if I can at all, I'm here."

He declined to enter into discussion on whether Novak Djokovic would be his great rival from now on, ahead of Switzerland's Roger Federer. 

"He has started the year really well and I congratulate him. Roger and I have played really important matches, with very nice moments for both of us. The year is very long and he is in a privileged position, but, unfortunately, I have to worry about many other players," he declared. On his dominance on clay, he concluded: "I'm not unbeatable, I've lost before and unfortunately I still have many games to lose ahead of me. Things have gone well for me in the last few years, but nobody is perfect."


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