madridopen presser

Madrid: Semi Final Press Conference

5/07/2011Rafaholics ™

 Nadal (7.5.2011)

R. Nadal b. R. Federer 5-7 6-1 6-3


Q. Hello Rafa congratulations. In the case that Djokovic gets to the final how do you expect the final to turn out?
A. Like always, I've got the illusion of winning, of playing a good game, the illusion of being competitive, as I always do when I go out to win a match. I'm very much aware that in the last 2 finals against him I lost and maybe the conditions suit him a bit more now because of that. Here I think the conditions here are a bit more in his favor, I'm not going to go about the match a different way. I am going to try to go out there and play with what I know which is play with intensity, play aggressively, play with my drive and try to have hit better points than him. He is moving very well, he is shining a bit now because he has a lot of confidence now which is important. I plan to accept this and all the difficulties that will surely be there and accept that this is going to be a very complicated math that I could lose even playing well. I lost 2 finals, I could lose a third. I will continue fighting continue working no matter what. For me to start the clay season with 2 victories and now a final one in the third tournament which may be less favorable for me but its also a very good result. I have to make the extra effort and tomorrow will be an important match. The fact that I am playing at home is special and well its another final in the Master 1000 and I will fight until the end.

Q. Two things, the first in respect to Djokovic, more to do with his confidence than his winning streak, up to what point do you think he has changed? For example being more aggressive on the court?
A. Who Djokovic? I think its completely the opposite. I don’t see him more aggressive. I think he is less aggressive now than a few years ago, he used to me more aggressive, he used to not let you play sometimes. I can be wrong but from my experience playing 2 matches against him, I didn’t see him more aggressive than before. I actually saw him less aggressive than before. Maybe he is making less errors than before and his defense is better now. He is starting to serve very well which last year and the other year, he didn’t do so well. He is a good player, he has always been a good player and now he is arriving with a winning streak and that gives you a boost in your confidence and security in yourself. That’s all, I think he really is one of those players that comes up every few seasons because of his talent and the good hits he delivers from positions that look very simple but are actually very difficult because he manages to hit the ball very soon, very much in front of where he is and with little effort. He seems to always have enough time to complete a stroke and hit the ball right when it goes towards him and that's a privilege that few players have.

Q. Are you surprised about what happened there because its not the first time?
A. I'm not surprised, only that there at that moment I was losing more time than I wanted to because I was a bit nervous, it was the last game in the match but I accepted it and didn’t let it get to me. Honestly it bothers me a lot more that the umpire decides something like that in the second set, than in the last set of a game, which happened to me a few years ago, because there you can either have 3 points left to make up the difference or 3 games left. Basically you don’t want to be on his bad side the entire match.

Q. What do you think was the key after the first set when you were both tied and then Roger ended up winning. What happened in the second set that allowed you to win?

A. Well I don’t think it was our best match for either of us, I think we both made some errors, more than usual. In the first set, in the first moments in the match I should have done another reak because he was playing weaker and then he started to play better, he began playing more aggressively. And after 5 - 5 he had 0 – 40 and the normal thing would be to win the point especially playing aggressively, he had gotten all of the points and played very well. I think evidently, tennis is a game where bad luck doesn’t exist because you play point after point very consecutively and by the way the set went, I think it would have been more logical that the game went more on his favor than mine. It didn’t go his way even though I think I was playing a bit behind. I haven’t spoken with my trainer or anyone yet but from what I analyzed, I think I was playing a bit behind, from what I could feel from inside the court, I thought I was playing a too far back, I wasn't hitting the balls far enough, he could have gotten in front of me more. In the beginning when he was making mistakes, it didn’t matter but when he began to improve his game, there wasn't any room for me. All I thought was of what I had to do, try to hit longer shots and to do that I should have stepped forward a bit more during my serves. The problem here is that the ball bounces so much that you have to turn to your right and if you serve from the front, its basically impossible because the ball goes way too high. I decided, well if he serves to me with his backhand, I will be backwards but if he serves to me with his forehand I will be forward. I think that was a key, I wanted to recuperate too fast when he hit his serves to me. I was focusing on coming back to the center more but I gave up on that because I ha  to be on either side of the court. After that the points were neutralized, he continued hitting backhands to me and I had to keep putting up with him. By then it was harder for him to gain points against me but if he does you applaud him and period. But what you cant have is that he hurts your game with half shots which is what was happening in some moments throughout the game and that I did recuperate.

Q. Rafa. Can you correct me if I’m wrong? I believe that Federer didn’t do a single Ace in the entire match. Are you surprised? And on the other hand, do you have the feeling that on that first set when he came back he showed his best tennis regarding the last matches he played against you.

A. Well he didn’t do any aces because I was returning from the very back; it’s difficult to do aces this way. To Feliciano the other day he made 25 aces, or 26 but Feli was returning closer. I think that we are different players and I believe that the vision of the court changes quite a lot. It’s true that he has done very good drives at the end of the first set I opened very well with my backhand. I think that I have helped him to have done that with fewer problems. He was playing short and I was playing from the very back. He had a lot of time to watch the ball coming, whenever someone plays at the back you have a lot of time to step in and position yourself. From my point of view that is what was  happening. There have been many moments where I have played really well, I started returning very well with my backhand, I started doing that more than in other matches. I am not going to say that I didn’t make any errors with my forehand but he was playing very aggressively, when he had a ball to his forehand he was trying to neutralize the  game, he tried to play the ball hard, when he did it correctly I suffered and after when I stepped back in I started playing a little bit longer you know he couldn’t see the spaces so easily; he has suffered a little bit more I believe. I was trying but then I was making a couple more errors.

Q. You’ve said that it wasn’t your best game, nor Roger’s. But without being your best game you have been capable of handling the match against the 3rd ranked player in the world. Secondly how did the roof affect you game, does it change a lot when the close you the roof 3 minutes before the start of the game?

A. Well I knew this could happen, I was prepared, and obviously it doesn’t help me in any way. First of all I couldn’t see the ball properly, when he was serving, the ball was on the light’s way and I couldn’t see. I could not see if he was coming up to the net or not. It was a bit of a problem for me and also the court changes a little bit when the roof is closed but it’s not an extreme change. The difference between the good players and the best one is that when you play badly you win, that is what the best players do. At the end of the year you really don’t play so many goo matches. You can have a perfect season but during your career you have moments where you play well, average… At those moments is when you have to continue winning matches. It’s those moments that keep you up there and give you an opportunity. To do it better the next day I believe that the really important thing is to accept what you really have, to fight with what you have and if you can make it to a level 6, make it to that level. Don’t become desperate and make it to a level 4, then when you reach level 10 you will obtain the victories because then it becomes much easier. That’s the reality, what’s really difficult is to win when you are at a level 5 or 6, it is at these moments where your ranking changes and then you are ready to see the world from a different point of view. You face the tournaments and you see that playing badly you can still win them. To obtain that, the most important thing is to accept things and continue with the appropriate attitude.

Q. Rafa, yesterday you already talked about him but today we have confirmed the news. I would like to ask you about Seve, today in the minute of silence we have seen you very emotional and you have been wearing a black badge. Can you give us some reflections?

A. Well I can give very few reflections. It’s a sad day in general for Spain, for the world of sport. I think that he was one of the best golf players in history. He was one of the best athletes that this country has ever had. He was a pioneer. He was one of the first big athletes that we have had in Spain. I think that he has always had Great Spirit to  overcome. I was talking yesterday with he was brother, well texting with him; a d he told me that he was critical; - and this morning the first thing I did was to turn on TV, and the first thing I saw was that he had died. It's a day of sadness- when you wake up with news like that you face your day differently. The only thing I can do is to give all my support to his family. It is a loss that they will never get back due to all the values that Seve had; he was a great inspiration for all of us and all the athletes. But luckily we have all of his videos and also we can remember him. Luckily one day I had the chance of playing 18 holes with him and it’s an unforgettable memory.

Q. You have been saying that neither you nor Federer have been playing at your best level; do you think that he can be back at his best level for Roland Garros?

A. Federer made it to the semi finals. He suffered a lot against Feliciano. He played a really good match against Soderling. He’s got a lot of confidence. Today at some point he was playing really well but Federer is a very special player. He is a player that can do his best and then change the situation. He has that ease to play this game. I’ve never seen someone like him play at such ease like he has. I think that this tournament and also Rome will be good for him and after 5 sets he is going to be well prepared. He’s a player that in the grand slams he’s always played very well and now he’s going to fight to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and to when to be in the top of the rankings for sure. And afterwards he will be playing for his goals whatever they are. Obviously he’s been many years up there, let’s see his priorities I haven’t asked him but I think it will depend on his priorities, which position in the ranking he’ll finish but knowing him I think I know him quite well, he is a really ambitious player, he’s a player that likes to be up there and he loves tennis so I think that his objectives will be up there. He likes to win tournaments like in Madrid and Grand Slams so I think that he’s going to be well prepared for the important ones.

Q. Rafa, is it fair to say that this wasn’t the greatest match that the two of you have played?

A. It wasn’t one of these but you know how difficult it is for us to play against each other - 100 times. We know each other very well and at moments we are thinking more about what we can do to bother the opponent that play our best. We know each other too well and it’s very difficult to play very well in each match. In Miami I played fantastic, he  didn’t play very well. I think that at moments Roger played very aggressive and great tennis and in other moments he had more mistakes than usual so the match was a little bit up and down but for sure it’s always a special match against each other. It’s a pleasure to play against him – always an honour.

Q. If you play Novak tomorrow, you’ve got your long clay court streak, he’s got his long unbeaten streak; will that make it even more special?

A: What makes it more special is to play another Masters 1000 final and to play against the best player of the year – Djokovic – and it play at home is always a very special feeling and the crowd always supports me here and hopefully tomorrow I’ll have the crowd behind me,  upporting me and that will be an important point for me. I think the match will be very difficult against Djokovic and I think if it´s against Bellucci too because he’s playing fantastic. I understand your interest is about Djokovic – the thing is, when a player isn’t losing it’s because every day he is doing the right thing and hopefully tomorrow he doesn’t always do the right things and I can play at my best level. Only like this I’m going to have chances. Let’s try and we’ll see tomorrow. I think that because he is undefeated this year and he has been in the last two finals he’ll be the favourite for tomorrow.

Q. You said that sometimes when you play Roger with you know too much about each other; how is it with Novak? Do you know too much about Novak as well?

A. It’s a little bit different. Sure we know each other well. I think that the match change a little bit because I don’t have the tactic 100% right to play against him and he doesn’t either. So in general, the match is a little bit different. Against Roger, I have played a lot of important matches throughout our careers and a few ones against Novak but I still haven’t felt the pressure and the emotions that I have felt when I played against Roger – the Australian final, 3 Wimbledons, 3 Roland Garros´ - a lot of important matches and against Novak, I’ve played the US Open final and one Roland Garros but we’ve played a lot of Masters 1000 finals but the feeling is sometimes a little bit different.

Q: I think you’ve never lost against Novak on clay, can that be a psychological advantage tomorrow?

A: It can be if I didn’t lose two finals in a row but with the last two results that’s not going to happen – it’s bad for me. He’s coming with a lot of confidence. For sure he knows he can beat me and he did the last two times. I am here to try my best and to try to play aggressive and play good match and that’s what I'm going to try. Let’s see. I don’t think that’s going to have affect.

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