Nicolas Almagro Interview - French Open, May 31

Posted on May 31, 2010

Nicolas Almagro Interview
French Open
Monday, May 31, 2010

Q. Do you think you're playing the best tennis of your career at the moment?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, I don't think so. I play very well that match. I'm very happy with my tennis at the beginning of the match, and at the end of the second set and at the beginning of the third, too.
Well, I happy I play so good. I didn't do many mistakes. But I think I can do better with my serve, because I couldn't play with a lot of first serves. I think I can do better.

Q. You face Nadal in the quarter. You met him in Madrid. Do you have a special game plan? And if yes, is it the same one as in Madrid?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: No, I think I will try to play at the same as Madrid, but I need to play more than one set and a half. Here I need to play five sets. I think it will be difficult to beat him, but I will try at the same every time I play him.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish, please.
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: It's much easier for me to speak Spanish, so questions in Spanish.

Q. Was it more difficult, less difficult? Because it looked very easy to us.
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, maybe it looked easy, but it wasn't. It was a very difficult match against a player like Verdasco. He's part of the top players in the world, and I managed to lead the match for the two first sets.
I knew exactly what I had to do, I was very much focused, and I knew this was the key in the match. I played an almost perfect match. I played very good tennis at all times in the match.
Maybe the only problem was my first serve. But I need to work on my first serve. That's my weak point. I'm very happy I won, but I want to make progress. I think I'm on the right tracks, and obviously I still have a few more days ahead of me.

Q. Well, congratulations, to start with. This is the second time you've reached the quarterfinals here in Roland Garros. It's an opportunity for you. What's the most important difference between your shape this year and last year?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, I think there is a lot of difference. As compared to 2008, my physical shape has improved a lot. From a mental standpoint, I also am much stronger now.
But the next match is going to be very difficult because I'm playing Rafa. He is above all the other players on this surface. But I think I'll be able to play very good level of tennis, and I hope this will be the case for many, many years.
If I can win, that's gonna be even better.

Q. Do you remember the match you played against Rafa in Madrid? What did you learn from this match so that you can avoid making the same mistakes?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: I think my matches against Rafa are always very long and very difficult. In Madrid I played at a very good level. I think it was at 5 1, 6 4, and in the second set when I was 2 1 up and there was the breakpoint, and I played my two best points in the match.
Then he came back. He played much better. This is probably where I couldn't react. He was playing much longer balls. And for the next match it's going to be battle. It's the one who can fight the longest that can win.

Q. How would you explain someone who's not seen you playing? How would you explain your second set?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: How do you want me to answer? In Spanish or in English?

Q. As you wish.
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, I served better, and that's something I've been working on since I was a child. And you want to ask my coach. He explained to me these things. That's a natural serve to me. I make sure the ball bounces very high, and I want it to be very fast, as well.
But this is how I try and win the point. Did you understand what I said? But if you didn't, ask my coach. He'll give you explanations.

Q. What about the pressure for the next match? Would you say Rafa is unbeatable, or do you think you have opportunities to win this match?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, if I thought he was unbeatable I'd pack up and go home. But not at all. I know how to attack him. I've done so in Madrid, and at many times in the match. So I'll continue on the same tracks.
I do think that this is going to be a much longer match than in Madrid, so I have to be very much focused during the entire match. I need to play my best tennis, which is probably what I did today.
If I do so, I have a good opportunity.

Q. Would you say that Rafa is the worst case scenario?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, it's going to be a very tough, very difficult match. I don't think anyone has defeated him on clay this season. But that's right. That's the draw that decided I would play him in the quarterfinals.
But this is a Grand Slam tournament, you know. Playing the biggest player in the world on clay, well, that makes me feel very happy, because that's an opportunity for me to beat him.
If that was the case, I'd be very happy. Otherwise, as each time I played him, I'll do my best to walk out of the court with my chin up.

Q. I don't know when you were a junior if you had already played him and won. Would this have a psychological impact?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, as I said, each match is totally different. Each match is a physical fight and a mental fight. I get ready, I prepare for each of my matches, and I've never won against Ferrer, and so you see, I won. One you win; one you lose.
And the last times I've played Rafa he won because he was stronger than me, but I will try and change the scenario this time.

Q. Who has more to lose?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: I think we both have a lot to lose.

Q. Are you saying he's going to win until he's 60, also?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: No, not at all. I know he plays a very good level of tennis, but I won't wait till I'm 40 to beat him. I hope I can win him when I'm 24. But we'll see that tomorrow or, no, on Wednesday. But trust me, Wednesday is going to be a wonderful match.
I really want to play that one and be amongst the top players in the world.

Q. I don't know how you prepare your matches with Jose, but from now till next Wednesday, are you going to watch the videos of the matches in 2008?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: I never watch matches on TV. That's Jose who does that, and then he tells me about the important points because he knows tennis much better than I do.
So I just follow his instructions.

Q. What did Jose say about Rafa?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well he said nothing. He said, Congratulations; you played very well. You were at the challenge. You have to continue on the right tracks and improve on your weaknesses.
Honestly, I didn't talk about the future match against Rafa.

Q. How does it feel, this future match?
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: Well, he says I need to be very aggressive. I need to attack on his serve as soon as I can and be as aggressive as possible.
But I have to be consistent, as well.