Nadal Interview: Whenever I play, I can lose


Rafael Nadal: "Whenever I play, I can lose"
By Cécile Soler for Le Figaro

Rafael Nadal : If you only think about tennis, you’ll end up losing your mind and hating the game”

A couple of days before the start of his defence in Roland Garros, a meeting with the world number one who was dominated by Novak Djokovic in Rome yesterday.

Mid-April in Monte Carlo. The world number one confides at length in one of the country club’s lounges. The Spaniard talks about his career, his values and his future academy. Beaten once again by Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 6-4 in the Rome final, the Mallorcan - once doesn’t make it a habit - will not necessarily start as the favourite in Roland Garros, “his” tournament that starts on Sunday. Words of a champion.

Le Figaro : On clay you are not supposed to lose , how do you live with this ?
Nadal: I don’t feel that way. I have already lost there and I’ve come close to a defeat several times. What happened last year on clay was really a dream. I don’t think of myself as being unbeatable on that surface and I don’t want people to think that I consider myself to be unbeatable.

Le Figaro : During his domination, Federer admitted to having created a monster because the public expected him to win all the time. Is it the same for you?
Nadal: I don’t see myself as somebody who needs to win everything. Win or lose, it’s all part of the game. What people think doesn’t really affect me all that much. The only thing that affects me is the pressure I put on myself and my motivation to win. I know that each time I’m playing a match, I can lose. It’s easier to tackle the competition if you accept it.

Le Figaro : You’re close to Roger Federer, your relationship to Novak Djokovic doesn’t seem to be equally as warm…
Nadal: It’s impossible to have the same relationship with two different people. With Roger, I have an exceptional bond. Together, we’ve experienced very important moments; great finals when we were both at 100% on the same wavelength. We’ve spent a lot of time together, in charity events, promotional events, exhibitions and also in the ATP council. Djokovic is of my generation and my relationship with him is bound to differ..

Le Figaro : Has his recent breakthrough modified the way you behave towards each other?
Nadal: Even if I was the world number ten and he was the world number two, it wouldn’t change a thing. You can’t define a relationship by a number. As far as I am concerned: what happens on court doesn’t affect what happens outside of it. I get on well with Federer, with “Nole” and with Murray. What’s important is that the players keep in mind that tennis is only a game and to make sure that there is no tension among us. We have to set an example to children.

Le Figaro: A couple of years ago, Alex Corretja was already praising the maturity behind your philosophy of life. Can you tell us more?
Nadal: I try to live day by day, enjoy the day with my friends when I'm in Majorca. Obviously, if I play a tournament the following week, I train and I have a knot in my stomach ... The important thing is health, because without it nothing can be done. But then, it is important to be happy. For when it does, we play better tennis. If we think only of tennis, a few years, you go crazy and you end up hating the game ... When I'm in tournaments, once the match is over, if I play well, I do not like to think again. I do not look at the next game until the next morning. My philosophy is to enjoy the moment because we do not know what will happen tomorrow. The greatest satisfaction is obviously the result of my work, because all my life I fought to be where I am today.Have successfully allows me to do lots of things ... when I have time!

Le Figaro : Do the responsibilities that come with being the world number one nibble at your serenity?
Nadal: No, but sometimes, I simply have less time to enjoy life. I have obligations. I understand that. Tennis has given me a lot so I have to give something back…

Le Figaro : Does the pressure become unbearable when you get ready to defend a title you’ve already won five times
Nadal : There’s always pressure in Roland Garros. It explains why it’s not always the tournament on clay where I play my best, esp. at the start of the two weeks. I’m nervous at the beginning and I’m super nervous at the start of my first match. (Smile) However, over the years, I’ve benefiting from my experience.

Le Figaro: What memories do you associate with Roland Garros?
Nadal: Many, because I’ve played some of the most important matches of my career there…Roland Garros was always the tournament I watched on tv when I was little. To be able to play there one day seemed incredible. Now that I’ve won it several times, in my mind, it has become the place where it all started.

Le Figaro: What was the hardest match you’ve won in Paris?
Nadal: There are several. My first match against Mariano Puerto in 2005 when he was about to win the 4th set. There was also the final against Federer in 2006. The same year, I also remember a very tough match, esp. physically, against Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Le Figaro : Have you put the problems you had with the public in 2009 behind you?
Nadal, I never had a problem with the public! What I said was that I respected their choice, that they were entitled to support whom they wanted. However, what was tough for me, in Paris, a city I prefer above all in the world, was that in the tournament that is the most important for me, to see that the public was not behind me. However, in other moments, I was tremendously supported: last year for example.

Le Figaro: Tell us about the academy you’re going to open in Manacor…
Nadal: I’m 100% involved. I will train there and my team will work there. We want to open an academy that will become a reference point in Spain. We will have a lot of courts, on hard, on clay, indoors…but also a swimming pool and a gym. The children will be educated on the spot because the education is sometimes the most important aspect in sport. We will also have football fields and basketball courts, because I believe that children should enjoy life and not have to think about tennis all the time.

[google translated with a few touch ups]

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