Rafael Nadal Interview - French Open, May 31Posted on May 31, 2010
Q. You beat Bellucci two years ago in three sets, and today again in three sets. Was it more difficult today, and in what way?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn't remember exactly, no? But that match was a tougher one in the tournament for me in 2008. That's the true, no?
I don't know. But, you know, my feeling was I was closer to lose a set or something like this in 2008 than today.
But the score was closer this time.
Q. Are we going to have a Nadal/Federer final, or don't you let yourself think that far in advance?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am in quarterfinals. I am very happy to be here, and you will have Nadal/Almagro, sure.
Q. What made this kid so difficult? Because he was left handed?
RAFAEL NADAL: Was difficult, but was in three sets, so every match is completely different. Sure, every match is difficult in fourth round of one Grand Slam. In Roland Garros every matches can be very, very difficult.
Bellucci is a very good play, especially on clay. Good serve, good forehand, good backhand, too.
Q. His opponent was good, too.
RAFAEL NADAL: What?
Q. His opponent was good, too.
RAFAEL NADAL: I played probably my best match today in the tournament.
Q. There are certain shots that can change a match. When you played your backhand pass at 5 All, did you think that was a moment when you established yourself in the match and maybe he was a little upset and perhaps he went down a bit?
RAFAEL NADAL: Was very important moment, because I lost the serve two times. So I had the match under control set and 3 2, 40 15 I think I remember. Playing well in that moment. I had two mistakes: one net outside and another one long.
But without play bad, playing two good points. After that, everything was difficult. Sure, in the 5 All was the key of the match, because after that I gonna serve in the 6 5 with the wind. (In Spanish.)
Q. Between Verdasco and Almagro, for instance before the they played the match, do you have a preference on, Oh I would like to play this or that player, whoever wins, or you don't care about who's going to be the next point? Do you sometimes have preferences on the next round, I would rather play this or that person?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, first thing, I didn't have any preference before because I didn't play, so I was focus only on me. To try to play against Verdasco Almagro, sure later you never know. Believe me.
I don't know if I don't care, but I don't know which one I prefer, I think. Both players are good players. Gonna be very good match.
Q. Can we say that after the Soderling match of last year, this has like made you be even more careful than ever before with the earlier rounds, before the final that you're accustomed?
RAFAEL NADAL: No.
RAFAEL NADAL: Same.
Q. You always play your matches at a certain level of intensity. It's always very strong. Do you think it's possible to win this title or win any Grand Slam playing at anything below your best intensity?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me?
Q. For you or for anyone, but for you.
RAFAEL NADAL: I think some players can play some moments more relaxed because they have the serve and they can play a little bit with that, no? But not for me.
Sure, I can play a few games if I have the match under control probably a little bit more relaxed, but not normally not.
I try my best every day. I think every day a little bit better here in this tournament, and that's because I am very focused all the time to improve.
I go on court and try my best in every point. That's what I try.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.
Q. This was probably a very important victory for you, I suppose. Last year you managed to reach this level, but now you're going to go even further.
RAFAEL NADAL: It's an important victory if you look at the points, that's true. But I knew he was a very tough opponent. It was a very important match for me. I succeeded well because I managed to play even better. I could shoot into the balls the way I wanted to, mainly the backhand shots, but also my forehand.
Unfortunately, my shots were a bit too short. I wanted to have longer and deeper shots. I wanted to improve this. Sometimes, you know, these details are such that the opponent could take this opportunity so as to dominate the game. It's better to have deeper balls so as to dominate the game.
I think I served better today than any other day, and I'm very satisfied because I think I've improved. I've not yet dropped a set. Well, a set, yes. But no, no, I have not yet dropped a set.
The most important thing is that I won my match.
Q. You're going to play against Almagro. He won a set in Madrid against you. What do you think about this?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's going to be very difficult, because the way he plays is really excellent. He's managed to maintain the same level here in the tournament. It's going to be complicated; he's going to be very aggressive. It's normal. He knows how to do this.
And as far as I'm concerned, I'll try and play my way and do my best. I'll do my best so that he feels a bit uncomfortable.
Q. Do you think you could say something about his serve, because you played in Madrid not long ago against him?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I can tell you his second serve is really very good, but there's nothing special about it. The ball bounces back really high. Okay, it's a good serve. Not bad.
In general, his first service and even the second serve are good, are excellent, one of the best servers in the world.
Q. This is your 200th victory on clay. That gives you a total of 98% of victories on clay. This result is even better than Bjørn Borg's. What do you think about this?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don't really think that much about it, but it's really good. What I'm thinking about is practicing tomorrow morning, and of course today's match and tomorrow's training and practicing, and then the following matches. All these statistical data, you know, as I've said before, as I'd like to repeat, are quite valid when you've finished your career, but not before.
There's never one day when I think, Oh, okay that's my 200th victory or umpteenth victory. No, I don't think in these terms. We never know when these statistics are still valid or if they're going to continue to be as good.
Now, I can tell you that from the year 2005 onward my statistics have improved, but I never really think about this very much.
Q. I have the impression that this was an easy match. You've not really suffered. Is it something you deserve, or is it due to the opponent and the way he played?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the match was not easy. It was a very difficult match. Now we've reached quarterfinals, which means a good tournament for most of the players here.
My objectives are still very high and very demanding. All matches are complicated. All players are difficult to play against. It's very important for me, you know, considering what's happened to me in the past months.
I couldn't win last year, as you know, so it was very difficult. I wanted to tell you this, because for 11 months now I've not really won that many matches. I know what it means to win a tournament.
Q. Despite your excellent results, despite the fact that you've not yet lost any sets, you're not boasting about it. You're not that happy.
RAFAEL NADAL: What do you want me to say? Do you want me to jump and shout?
Of course I'm very happy. I'm still in the tournament. I've reached the quarterfinals. But then, you know, this is a press conference, so I'm quite normal. I try and be myself, and this is it.
I'll start jumping when I've won the tournament. For the time being, it's only the quarterfinals. My objective is you know, I'm very demanding and like to be here, but I like to continue and move forward and do my best.
Q. Robin Soderling is ready. He is going to fight back strongly. So what about Soderling's chances? What are the odds?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't really know. He has chances, I think. I think he's not the favorite, but I think he can win. I think he's not yet lost a set. I think he's going to play well.
We can say the same about Federer. I think it's been his 23rd or 24th semifinals. He's not going to lose this, I think.
Q. Well, the second set was very difficult for you. Bellucci made your life harder. Could you tell us more about this, how the end of the set ended?
RAFAEL NADAL: I had the impression I was dominating the court and I had taken control, but sometimes I was playing against the wind. It was very difficult. It was not really the wind. It was a slight breeze.
The other day it was so windy that it was difficult to play when the wind was blowing in your back, but today as well it was difficult. When we were at 3 2, 40 15, I played excellent points. It was a bit difficult at that moment.
But otherwise, I can't really explain this 4 2. I could have had a tighter match. But as you know, what's done is done. We can't play the match again. Bellucci plays really well.
I can tell you he played really well on the points that I gave him, more or less. He took advantage of this. It was a bit complicated for me sometimes.
Q. What seems to be a bit of a paradox is that the only man who could perhaps win Roland Garros could become No. 1 again.
RAFAEL NADAL: If I were No. 1, I would be very happy. But what is important to me is to play well, to play a good match, and, of course, to win the tournament.
And if I am No. 1 or No. 2, never mind. It doesn't really matter. Last year my level was not excellent. I don't really want to think about this. It's only quarterfinals. I'd like to win the tournament.
Now, whether I want to be No. 1 or not is a different thing. To be No. 1 I think I should play a good tournament and reach the finals. We'll see. We'll see what's going to happen next.
If I reach semis, we'll see. In this case I might be No. 1. But if I don't reach the finals, then I think that Federer would be the favorite. Because as you know, the second half of the year is better for my opponents because the other surfaces are more difficult for me compared with clay.
As you know, if it's a hardcourt or other surfaces, the other players play at a high level. But this is pure speculation.