presser RolandGarros

RG: English/Spanish Press Conference Transcript


World no.1 Rafael Nadal played his first ever five set match at Roland Garros on Tuesday and battled back from 2 sets to 1 down to beat Big John Isner of the United States. The 5-time champion went toe-to-toe with the 6 foot 9 inch American for 4 hours and prevailed 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. Despite the long match a candid Nadal had plenty of time for countless questions from the Press. Here are some excerpts from his post match interview..

Q. Congratulations for the big comeback. What was on your mind when you were down two sets to one?
 RAFAEL NADAL: I am close to be out. That's the think, no? I didn't have a way to have the break, because I had 15-40 at the 6-5 of the second, but he's still serving fantastic, no? Two big serves.Tough, tough moments for me, no, because I only had one break point against during all the match. Was in the 6-4, 4-3. That's true I didn't play well the tiebreaks. I played too nervous, in my opinion. For the rest of the match I think I was 6-4, 4-2, under control everything. Without playing fantastic, but I never played fantastic the first round here, so wasn't nothing unexpected.I was happy about how I was playing at the beginning. Having a tough opponent in front of them, winning set and break, I felt the match in the right position.But after that, you know, I lost that game. I didn't play well the tiebreak, and I didn't have chances to have the break.When you play against these kind of players, the pressure is there all the time. You have to play all the time very safe. So I didn't play free during all the match after the second set, no?So it was tough the rest of the match, and very happy to be through.

Q. In the final set, third game of the final set, he came in twice behind second serves to try and volley, and you hit a couple of big backhand service returns. Do you think that was in a sense the turning point there?
RAFAEL NADAL: The break of the fifth?

Q. Yeah.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the turning point was the fourth. First break of the fourth was...

Q. The 2-1?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. The first break of the fourth was very, very important for me because I was very, very under pressure on the fourth set, because I know I have six games to have a break. Because if I arrive to the tiebreak, I am in big danger, I know that, at the fourth. So when I wonthe -- when I had the break and when I won the fourth, I know in the fifth is no tiebreak. So I felt a little bit more confident for that. But, sure, the break of the fifth was fantastic game for me. I played my best game of the match to have the break at the fifth, no? Two returns, winners, first two points after with second serve, with the second serve of the John, terrible bounces, very high. I hit fantastic backhand there to the foot and I return very well the break point. ;After that, I know I had the match in my position. But after that I have 15-30 in 3-2 or 4-3. 3-2 was tough moments, too. I hit one ball to the line with the forehand, and after two good serves. But I know you play with a lot of pressure because it's the very, very important tournament for me. And play against these kind of opponent, if the match is close, is very tough.

Q. What was the most difficult today, Isner's serves or to be concentrated on your own game? And second question: How do you feel physically after this four-hour match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the most difficult thing was everything, because I had the match under control, and after I didn't have chances to win the second and the third.Especially the third was tough for me, but was more tough mentally than the rest of the things. Because I was there all the time feeling that I was playing better than him, but I don't have chances when you play against this kind of player.You are there and just wait to have the chance and just wait to have a couple of good shots. That happened in the fourth; it happened especially in the fifth when I had the break.Wait one moment of inspiration like that and try to be very focused all the time with your serve, so..

Q. Is it possible to compare John's serve to other people's in the game? How good is it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Probably Karlovic have a better serve than Isner. But with these balls, is more dangerous probably return the serve of Isner, because Karlovic have a little bit more flat serve so the bounces are not that crazy. And the second serve is clean. I don't know. Second serve is a little bit more easy to return, because is not coming with this crazy toss. He has a very good second serve, but the ball comes to you, no? You don't have to find the ball two meters after.And go inside is very, very dangerous. Very, very difficult to return inside, because with the second serve, you know, he hit the ball with big topspin. Is impossible to control the ball. And trying to return four, five meters behind the baseline, he had the chance always to serve and go in. From that position I am in trouble, because I have to hit a fantastic shot to have the point or to put him in trouble. If not, he has the volley every time, no? Very easy, no?So was very difficult to find solutions.

Q. You talked about going into the fifth set. You felt better because there wouldn't be a tiebreak, but he has a pretty good record in fifth sets, as well. He has played long, long matches. Did that enter your head at all going into the last set? You knew it could come to a very long, very long set.
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I have a good record, too, of the fifth set. (Laughter.)

Q. It's your first one here.
RAFAEL NADAL: First one in Roland Garros, yes, but not in Wimbledon. The rest of the Grand Slam I have a couple of ones, too.I don't know exactly the statistics, but I think I have a good record, too. So that's gives me confidence when I am in the fifth set. And, seriously, I think the fourth set was positive for me.
Especially the fifth I had the break early. That's true, for playing fantastic game. And if I arrive to the 4-4, 4-All, 5-All without a break, going to be very dangerous match.

Q. Yes, you have a good record in fifth sets, in five sets: 18 times, five sets; you lost only three times: two to Federer, once to Hewitt. That gave you confidence. This is the most difficult match you have ever played here in Roland Garros you think apart from the one you lost to Soderling?

Q. Because the other times you always won in four or in three. I'm just asking you.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, is difficult to-- well, let's wait, because that's the first round, and tough matches -- every year is tough. You have tough matches. Even if you win in four, you can have a tougher match on four. But that's true, is one of the times that I was closer to be out of the tournament.p> <p>But is difficult to compare? I remember very tough match against Mathieu here, 2006 maybe, something like this. Four set against Puerta was tough. Few times with Federer, especially 7-6 in the fourth one.I don't know.

Q. You've played 40 matches here, Roland Garros. First one that is five sets.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, that's true. Talking about if I am closer to lose than other times, maybe yes. But my opinion, I had the match under control 6-4, 4-2 at the beginning. So was a little bit of mistake for me.I have tough matches against Mathieu. It was very tough, I remember. I lose the first set 6-4, and after I was all the time fightinga lot of ways of the sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, I remember. So I put Mathieu in front of this one, or Puerta.

Q. You mentioned the new balls. Have you any problem with controlling those balls?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't have any problem, but is big change between the previous Masters 1000. I didn't love the balls of the previous tournaments. I think that the Dunlop lines this year the ball gets less topspin. In my opinion, the ball is softer than other years. So when you play a few games, the ball-- you feel the ball a lot of times in the strings, and I don't like that.But I think this ball is better for me in general. But at the same time, is dangerous ball because is a big change. So I only practiced four or five days, six days with this ball after one month and a half or one month playing with another ball. So is something that change a lot, the ball.The feeling is something very important in tennis. I know from outside sometimes is difficult to see, you know. But from inside for the players is something dangerous for the shoulders, you know, for everything. Change a lot of feelings, no?So I think the ball is good. The problem is that the previous ball was not that good.

THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions, please.

Q. During this press conference in English you said that this was probably the match during which you were the closest out of this tournament.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I said that for this match, for the first time in my career in Roland Garros, I was two sets down. But I still won.p>
<p>Quite clearly this is a match that I could have lost, but I also talked about other matches where I was even closer to the exit door than for this match. I made mistakes. I was a bit lost at one stage, which happened also during the previous months.So I made some mistakes sometimes, but there were other matches in which I was in trouble. But in this match I was in control.

Q. So you were in control because you managed to change the course of the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I tried to be patient. I was a bit nervous, a bit stressed in the beginning, and that's how it goes in the beginning. You have to accept this.p> <p>I knew that if he was to come back I would have even more stress. When his serve is very powerful, then you have a lot of pressure and you realize that you don't have that many opportunities to return his serve.And then you see that points are scored on his side, and you don't manage to do anything. So all of a sudden you're in the tiebreak and you feel, Oh, my God. You play all the points, and the other one is probably not playing all the points, but he's being very aggressive.That was his first round, as well, so it wasn't easy. A first round is always difficult. You know, in the round of 16 or in the quarterfinals you're more in it.

Q. Well, a good start. Four hours fighting on the court.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, not that much fun, frankly. But these are things that happen. It's the first round. I could have done better, quite clearly.p>
<p>But you need to see the positive side of the things. I was stressed, but I managed to overcome my stress.The negative is that I was in control of the match, and then I lost control and I spent two hours more than what I should have. So I made mistakes, but I accept I was nervous.I knew that I would not play the tiebreak very well. I accepted that. It should not have happened; yet it did.But, you know, I was two sets down, and then I had a lot of pressure. He served very big serves. But at the same time, when you're facing such players, this is something that may happen- and this is what actually happened.

Q. Were you a bit worried about the balls? Can you tell us more?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I like the balls. It's true that those balls would stick to the strings a bit longer, but it's not bad. It takes a bit of adaptation. You need to get used to it. You need to have enough confidence, because normally the ball doesn't stick to the strings.So it's difficult to control it. You don't know if you're going to play a short shot, so you have to have sufficient confidence to know exactly where it's going to go.So you have to get used to it. This is why sometimes I would play two short balls. It was a bit difficult not to be disturbed by this feeling that you were not controlling absolutely everything.Still, I think the ball is better than the one that we had in the past. That's my opinion.

Q. You said that in the last month you had more difficulties than in the past, so I don't know if you were talking about mistakes that you made today or if you were talking about your matches against Djokovic.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, in Rome I didn't make any mistakes.

Q. So why those mistakes today or in the past? Is it because you were tired?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, at the end of the day, I don't know. The first round against Berdych in Miami, that was an awful first round. Miami, Berdych, that was a disaster. Then Federer. I was leading. I had a break. He came back. He won the first set.Then in Monte-Carlo, Murray, everything was okay. The match was okay, Love-30, Love-40. Everything was fine, and then I lost and I suffered during the third set.So these are disasters. These are mistakes that I didn't make in the past, and I have been making these mistakes over the last few months. I need to say that. I accept this. Once you accept there is a problem, you can face the problem and find solutions to the problems.p> <p>Now I have to find solutions. Right now-- I don't think this will happen again. At the end of the day, I have been playing for many years. I have been on the tour for many years. I always have to defend my ranking. I have to fight every day, every week, and it's the eighth year on the tour. It's the eighth year in a row I am No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, so that means a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, you know.In a career in sports you have ups and downs. I'm not saying I'm at a low in my career, but I need to make some adjustments, and competitors are really good. These are things that happen.

Q. Roland Garros is a very fast surface. Do you think it's going to be in favor of hard court players?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, this is not something you can tell right at the beginning. We'll have to see how the court conditions evolve for the rest of the tournament. And the draw was not easy, as well.p> <p>I must say that sometimes you have some courts which are slower. Some people love it; others feel that's good if the ball stays a lot longer in the strings. You have players who can run very quickly. We all have our styles, but right now we can't tell.

Q. John Isner said that during the fourth and fifth sets, this is something he'd never seen. He said that you were one of the best players in the world, that he tried to attack you, but in the end he had no legs left for the fifth set.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, these are very kind words, and I want to thank John for saying that. But it's true that sometime in the fourth or in the fifth set I was returning with much more powerful balls. My best shot is a passing shot. It should be my best shot, but I didn't have it in my racquet today.I had a few very good passing shots in the fifth set, but, you know, I started sliding, and that was a bit of a problem.And in the fifth set I managed to loosen my shots. I had very good shots. At the end of the match, I had very good feelings.

Q. You said that you made some mistakes or that sometimes you had hesitations or fears when you were striking the ball or that there was stress.
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course. But I always say that during the first round. It's been a long time since I had such a tough opponent.But remember I had very difficult matches here, even worse than this one. So, you know, that's the way it goes. I played Gianni Mina first round. That was a disaster, if you remember. It was worse than today. Who else? Another French guy. No, not Benneteau, but what's his name? Long hair. Well, I played him, anyway.I didn't play well at all. So it's okay at the beginning of a tournament, especially Roland Garros, which is complicated for me, because I have a bit of stress in the beginning.So I need to be able to cope with my stress during the first days.

Thanks To Tanna for sending this in! Gracias!

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