9 Time Barcelona Open Champion Rafael Nadal to receive honor of center court renamed after him.
The court will be called Rafa Nadal.
April 20, 2017
Monte Carlo, Monaco
R. NADAL/A. Zverev
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. After the match at the Australian Open, were you perhaps expecting a more difficult match against him today?
RAFAEL NADAL: In all matches you expect a more difficult match, no? Especially when you play against a great player like him. Australia was five sets. Last year in Indian Wells was very close in the third. He had match point.
We supposed to play a tough match. That's what I thought. Before the match, I thought going to be a big test for me, going to be a very hard match. I went on court knowing it's going to be one of these kind of matches that if you don't play well, you probably going to go out.
But I played well. I played much better than yesterday. I played more aggressive. I played with a very high intensity from the beginning. Playing much better with my forehand. Then I maintain that kind of level for all the match, I think. So that was the key.
Q. What is the difference from this match to the match of yesterday? What did you improve in your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: What I improved is easy to see, no? I played more inside the court, I believe. I played more aggressive with my forehand. My serve, even if the percentage probably was less, lower than yesterday, but the speed of the serve was higher. In all terms, I think I served better than yesterday.
I play with not many mistakes. Then the aggressive idea and determination was much better than yesterday.
Yesterday, first match on clay, I thought that I going to try to play a solid match without looking for a great things. But after the comfortable first set, the opponent decided to play very aggressive. Then you are in trouble, no? That's what happened.
I know I have to play a different way than yesterday. In a good way or in a bad way, I needed to play better than yesterday. So I went on court with a good determination to play more aggressive, to play with high intensity. I did.
Q. Normally is not enough just to think you have to play better. But you were able to play better. It's not easy to explain in 24 hours such a big change. Another thing is, if everyone is talking about Zverev as a future possible No. 1 in the world, today, especially in the first set, you destroyed him. How do you explain it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is easy to explain. I played a great match. Probably he expect another kind of match. Especially the first two meetings that we had against each other was completely different story. So probably he came on court with confidence that he will have a good chance today because he won already two matches easy, and playing a high level of tennis. I suffered yesterday. Probably was little bit surprise for him that I started with that high intensity, playing that well.
Then was probably little bit tough to accept for him the way that the result was going on. That's why the last two, three games he played more aggressive than usual.
Q. We keep reading that the next generation is coming very strong, that maybe the changing of the guard is close. Do you feel they're that close from the big four guys, or that the gap is still pretty wide?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, Zverev is a player that is in a position that he has all the shots. He has great serve. He has all the ingredients to be a top, top player. I really believe that he will do it.
But all the things takes little bit of time. I know that he likes tennis. He likes what he's doing. He going to keep improving. Is just little bit more of experience, learn probably few small things that makes a big change, no?
But the real thing is today was not -- we can talk about today was old, and because of that you can say the gap is bigger. Really the gap is not bigger, you know. The gap is not that big as the match of today.
The real thing is Zverev is ready to win against anybody, no? Before the match, I thought today is one of those matches that I really can lose. Then happen what happen. Great news for me.
If I play against him tomorrow, I going to keep thinking is one of these kind of matches that I can lose.
Q. You won nine times here. What's special for you about this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: I love the tournament. Is one of my favorites, without a doubt. I always felt comfortable here. I enjoy from the first time that I played here in 2003.
And then, you know, to win so many times, a little bit of everything. a little bit of luck sometimes. Then is obvious that on clay for a few years - I don't know how to say in English without being arrogant, because I am not arrogant at all - but I won so many things.
Is true that I won nine here. But I won nine in Barcelona, seven in Rome, and nine in Roland Garros. It's not about this tournament. It's about the surface.
For a few years I was making unbelievable things on clay. This is one of my favorite tournaments on clay, without a doubt.
Q. Today Wawrinka and Murray lost. Do you have a preference for an eventual final opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have a tough work to do, no? The final is two days. Very far. Tomorrow I play against a player that he won already three matches on clay. He's playing at very high level of tennis. He going to be a very dangerous opponent tomorrow, no?
I need to be ready to compete at my highest level tomorrow to keep having chances to be through. Let's see what's happen.
Q. You mentioned 2003. I think you and Albert Costa finished really late. Do you remember that match? What do you remember about it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is a very, very long time ago. I really don't remember much about that match.
But was for me the first big, big victory, no? Especially here in Monte-Carlo. Important day for me. I remember that I came here with good confidence because I was winning lot of matches before here, a final, then winning. I was in second round of the draw after coming from the qualifying, already winning one match against Kucera.
Was for me an opportunity to play against a big player. I think in that moment he was No. 7 of the world or something like this. Yeah, was top 10. So for me was a match nothing to lose.
Already played a great tournament. I went on court to enjoy and to try to compete well. Then I really played a good match. I had the opportunity. Probably Albert didn't play his best obviously. I have the opportunity and I take it. That's all.
THE MODERATOR: Last one in English.
RAFAEL NADAL: Is good, because when you say, Last one, never happens (smiling).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
April 19, 2017
Monte Carlo, Monaco
R. NADAL/K. Edmund
6-0, 5-7, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Did you expect that he was so consistent with his backhand?
RAFAEL NADAL: If we have to talk about something, we have to talk about the forehand, not the backhand, in my opinion.
Q. Forehand he's so strong, but the backhand was a little bit surprising, in my opinion.
RAFAEL NADAL: And in my opinion the problem was he didn't hit enough backhands. He hit too many forehands. That's my opinion, no?
When you hit one backhand, is easy to be consistent. When you have to hit backhands in a row or backhands in not very good position, the story normally changes, no?
My fault, I believe, was that he had the chance to hit his forehand. Talking about another thing, he played great. He hit so strong, a lot of big forehands from everywhere. So well done from him.
But I am here to talk about me, not about the opponent that he play great. Well done for him, because for moments he was playing good enough to win the match.
But for me, the thing that I need to do better is when I'm hitting with my forehand, he cannot hit his forehand, no? When I'm hitting with my forehand, he has to hit his backhand, or he has to run to his forehand, no?
That was the problem this afternoon for too many times. I think at the end of the match I changed that. I changed more down the line. When I was hitting my forehand, he was not able to hit his forehand from the backhand side. That's so important for me.
But for some moments he had the chance to go for the shots all the time. Probably is true that with the conditions like this, is little bit tougher because the spin is not there, balls are so heavy.
When you play against a player that wants to hits every ball so, sometimes you are in his hands.
Q. You would have been aware of him on the tour, seen him play. But your first match against him, are you surprised by his power?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know he's a great player, no? Last year he had a great year. He's young. He has all the possibilities to become a top player: good serve, good forehand, not a bad backhand.
My feeling is when he's able to put all these ingredients together, play solid enough, he will have the chance to be in the top positions, no?
His forehand was huge. I believe that probably he didn't start this year as good as he played last year. But he has potential to be fighting for important things soon.
Q. Talking about your forehand, what would you say you're still searching for on that side, if you're still searching for something?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I think I was practicing well. But sometimes is not easy to win a set like this, 6-Love, especially in the first match on clay.
Then the opponent change because is obvious that he thought that the match was not going anywhere for him. He started to hit forehands so strong. He had a lot of success. He hit the spots a lot of times, a lot of balls to the line, close to it, with big power, no?
I believe that after the first set he played with nothing to lose, in my opinion. He hit very strong, but even stronger than usual.
He played well. I am very happy to still here with a victory. I think mentally I was there all the time. I fighted very well. I was strong enough after tough situations. I saved one breakpoint in the third. So I'm very happy to be here.
I was humble enough to run and to put one more ball in, to find solutions.
Q. Overcoming a match like this, is it important for the boost of confidence for the next round?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is important because tomorrow I have another opportunity, no? I think I will say yes if I'm in a position that I was not winning a lot of matches the last couple of months. But is not that case. I have been winning a lot of matches this beginning of the season.
What I feel today is not about confidence, is about I have the chance to play again tomorrow. That's the most important thing for me, no?
I saved a tough match against a player who played so aggressive and very well. Tomorrow I have another very tough battle against a big player again.
Q. Can you compare your feelings compared to on clay in the beginning of the season compared to other seasons?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't remember, no? Well, is true that I didn't win matches on the third set in the first round here very often. I think I won always in two sets. But I started well.
But even in the first set, I need something more with the forehand. I going to look for it tomorrow. That's my feeling, no? When I'm hitting my forehand, I need more power. I need to create more damage on the opponent.
That's what I need tomorrow. That's what I going to try to do. That's all.
Q. He's from the north of England. We're a bit surprised to have a player who plays like him. I know it's hard to sort of rank forehands. You've obviously played against all the great modern players. The power of Kyle's forehand, how does it compare in terms of the force of it, compared to some of the bigger forehands that you've played against?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have to see it more often. That's my feeling, no? I cannot say for one day.
But today was a big, big forehand. I know for experience is a little bit easier to hit that tough, looking for the shots that much, when you have less to lose.
When you are higher in the ranking and when you start to have to lose in every match, it's little bit more difficult to go for the shots as he did this afternoon, no?
But today he had a top forehand, in my opinion. Big, big shots from everywhere. Yeah, difficult to say because it was difficult to create damage on him because he was quick running to his backhand, too.
I think my mistakes for moments was that I needed to play more against his forehand. I was trying to play against his backhand, and he was waiting there. I needed to open the court to go to the other side. His forehand is big. Especially all the players who has big forehand have better forehand from the backhand side. He did very well.
Q. Do you think Alexander is less difficult to face on clay, or is the same?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, he's a top guy. He's a top player everywhere. He's a complete player. Everybody plays well in all surfaces today.
Is obviously that is a very tough second round. I need to play very well if I want to have chances to be through. I'm looking forward to try to find the best level possible for tomorrow. That's what I need.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rafa: "Let's see if it's possible to get the "10th" in any of the three tournaments where I already have 9 (MC, Barcelona & RG).
I'm aware that if I play well, I expect to have my chances, as history tells me that when I play on clay I usually have chances.
Though having my chances doesn't mean I'm gonna win. There is a long way between having chances & actually winning. But if you have chances, you live every day motivated to try to take those chances.
I think I've done things in the right way so far & I get to the clay season in the way I wanted to. Now comes a very important part of the season for me & hope to be ready to compete well & then we'll see what happens."
(translated by @genny_ss)