Rafael Nadal Interview - US Open, Sept 11Posted on September 11, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What does it mean to you to get to the finals of the US Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's another step I think in my career, so for sure is a very important victory for me. Yeah, be in the final of the last Grand Slam of the year is something new, because I always arrived here with problems. I think I can say I did a very good tournament. Anyway, the result of tomorrow of course change a lot the result of the match of tomorrow. But I am very satisfied how I improved during all the tournament, because I didn't arrive to this tournament playing my best. That's a very important thing.
Q. I was wondering, with having to come back tomorrow, how important was it to get it over in three sets?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure, always is important if it's three. If you have a match like I had in the semifinals of Australia a few years ago in 2009, I lost; I gonna lose for sure, no? But having three sets match and two hours, or a little bit more, of the match always is great, no? I gonna be in perfect conditions tomorrow, so that's very positive. We will see what happen.
Q. We don't know who's gonna get through here; Roger took the first set. Should he get through, people are saying this may just be the most important final in the Open era, if not in tennis history. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't think is that important. That is for sure very important match, but is only one more match. So I think we played during both of our careers very important matches against each other. So for sure this one gonna be something new, because it's a different tournament. But for me it's not important, the match of tomorrow, than the final of Wimbledon 2008 or the final of Wimbledon 2007. That's my feeling.
Q. If it is Roger tomorrow against you, given your head to head record against him and the possibility of winning the career Grand Slam, earlier in the tournament you said, Roger is the greatest player ever in your mind. Do you feel as though you'll be on the path to be called the greatest player ever?
RAFAEL NADAL: (Through translation.) No. No, no, is another match, and I don't think about the victory of tomorrow. We will see what happen with Roger. I think Roger is playing great level, probably the better level of the year for sure. So will be very difficult if he's in the final. If he's not, for sure Novak gonna be very difficult, too. Anyway, we suppose I won that final, I win that final, I gonna say the same. I am not of the way to be the best of the history, because that's very far. I really don't believe I can arrive to the Roger's level, no? So I think what Roger did is something almost impossible to repeat. I go day by day, and just like this I gonna have a chance to keep having chances to win important tournaments.
Q. We know that you don't like to look too far ahead, either in matches or in tournaments, but did you have a special feeling about this Open in the past few months for any reason because of the issues, the career slam possibly, that sort of thing?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I know if I am healthy is probably the year I gonna arrive better, because the mentality is there, the head is there during all the year to have a good tournament here. But for me, the most important tournament of the year 2010 was Roland Garros. You know, for me that was the most important tournament for me. And after that I was big confidence for me won in Roland Garros another time, because was very hard lose in 2009. So after that, I think I relaxed a lot. I can play very well on grass, and I said yesterday probably in Toronto/Cincinnati the body, it goes down a little bit for sure with this tournament. In the beginning I started playing so so. Is normal because the confidence wasn't at my best after having not very good two tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati. Toronto was okay, but Cincinnati the feeling wasn't great. So I worked a lot during the tournament to be back on my best level, no? The serve help me a lot on that, because that's give me a lot of confidence.
Q. Respectfully, in our sport, people love to talk about who is the greatest player of all time. In that conversation, do you think it should be based strictly on number of Grand Slams won, or do you feel there are other elements in it such as head to head?
RAFAEL NADAL: Head to head is not an element for me. Is a part of the statistics, but is not the decisive element. Even a Grand Slam is important element, but is not all on the tennis, because for me some things, more important things and more difficult things to do than win a Grand Slam. In my opinion, Roger won 16 Grand Slams already. But what he did, 23 or 24 semifinals in a row, that's something amazing. Is impossible to repeat, in my opinion. For me, what I did on clay the last six years in the previous tournaments, winning Monte Carlo six, Barcelona five, Rome five, and Hamburg one and Madrid another one. These previous places before Roland Garros is much more difficult to win than Roland Garros, because it's three sets, it's tournaments back to back, and you play against the best players since the first round. So in Roland Garros, Grand Slam, you normally can have a few rounds without playing above the top players, and that's can help you. And for the best players have the matches at five sets help us a little bit more, to have more time.
Q. Do you think Davis Cup or Olympics or Masters Series should be a consideration in the conversation?
RAFAEL NADAL: In the conversation, everybody is free to have his own opinion. (Laughter.) I am not one to say the steps, For that reason you are the best of the history. In my opinion, Roger is the best of the history, the best of the history that I ever see. I don't know Rod Laver, how it was in the past, because I wasn't in this world. (Laughter.) That's what I can say. The Masters 1000 I think is very important things, important tournaments, because you play against the best players of the world in every tournament. Is very difficult to win a Masters 1000 and Davis Cup for sure. But that's more difficult to say because you play by team, and you depends a little bit which team you have. Anyway, without the great team that I have in Spain, gonna be impossible have three Davis Cups already for me, no? So that's question about that. Olympics for sure is another thing. Olympics the most difficult thing to win, because you only gonna have one or two chances in your career. You have to be at the right moment at your best level.
Q. You said a moment ago that you thought Roger was playing the best tennis right now, of the year. Quite a few players in this press room in the last week have said that they think that he's playing the best tennis of his career. How much have you watched of his matches? Would you assess it as maybe the best of his career?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I don't know. I think Roger was amazing during all his career. Difficult to say right now he's playing best tennis of his career. He's playing at probably his best level without losing a set and having great victories against very difficult opponents. So probably is playing at his best level, but he played at unbelievable level a lot of times.
Q. Roger said before the tournament began that he wanted to face you in the finals. How do you feel right now at this moment with that match going on and you're already there?
RAFAEL NADAL: I feel great. For me, is a pleasure be here, to be the first player to be in the final. For me, I said before it's not a dream, because a dream is to win the tournament. But is very, very important tournament for me be in the final. I told you before, is another important tournament in my career. Right now gonna be very difficult to have the title. But I gonna try my best. I would love to play against another player than Roger in the final, because he is the best. (Laughter.)
Q. The way you play and the way you move on the court, it's like you were in 2003, 2004. Do you think tomorrow will be easy if you play against Djokovic?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn't understand the first part.
Q. The first part is just a commentary. The way you move on the court now, the way you were moving is like you were moving in 2003, 2004.
RAFAEL NADAL: Me?
Q. Yes. So do you think tomorrow will be easy match for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, first thing is no answer, because you already answered yourself. (Laughter.) And second thing, I don't know. You think gonna be an easy match for me? I don't think so. For me gonna be very difficult match.
Q. If you face Novak Djokovic, tell me about that match, what you think of Nole.
RAFAEL NADAL: I played against him a lot of times, so he is probably -- when he's playing well, probably is the player who can play at high level for moments, no? Because he can have winners from every part of the court. He serve, when he's serving well, help him a lot, because he can have very good serves. He's a very difficult opponent for me, especially I had a lot of loses against him in this kind of surface. I have victories, too, but I have loses. So he's a great player. I think he deserve to be in that final, too, because fourth time he's in that situation. Well, he was in the final one time, but another time in semifinals. He always is here. He's a very regular player. He had I think for his level not easy season, because for him his aspirations, I think, is win a Grand Slam title than winning a Masters 1000 title. He fighted every week and every week was there, but the final he didn't win. So he deserve be there, because his mentality is always very positive, and he's a great guy, great player for our sport. For sure, if I play against him, gonna be very difficult.
Q. If you do face Roger, how different would it be tactically than facing him on the other surfaces where you've already played him?
RAFAEL NADAL: I played against him on this surface a lot of times, too, so is not a big difference. I don't know the tactic, because every court is different. But he's always very similar, I think.
Q. What, if anything, do you remember about the way Juan Martin Del Potro beat Roger here last year in the final? If Roger is your opponent, is it possible for you to learn anything tactically from Del Potro's approach, or does that have no significance to the way you would play Roger here?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, that's -- no, I can learn about my victories in the past against him. I can't learn about the victory of Juan Martin Del Potro against Federer last year, because he's completely different style of player. Del Potro have unbelievable serve, very flat shots from the baseline. My style is a little bit different, so I can't play like Del Potro did last year. At the same time that my opinion, Federer that year, last year, had to win that final because he was winning playing unbelievable in the beginning. Have break in the second, so it was yeah, he had the match under control, and something happened in the end of second and everything change.
Q. When you were a little boy, which players did you most enjoy watching?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I always enjoyed watching Carlos Moya. He's always very close to my village, so he was one of my favorite players, for sure.
Q. When you were on the court earlier, you acknowledged 9/11 and you talked about New York and how you felt embraced by the city. What prompted you to make those comments, and how has New York made you feel welcome?
RAFAEL NADAL: (Through translation.) Well, I think first thing, 9/11 was a big shock for everybody in the world. I remember everybody remember where they were at that moment, and I remember what happened that day and where I was. Yeah, was terrible shock for me, especially because I was in the top of the twin towers few months before. So, yeah, that's just the minimum thing that I can say, all the support for the victims and for the families for sure is always in my mind. When I came back after the disaster, in the first six years I always was there at Ground Zero every time watching that. So, yep, that's probably the most impact view that I had in all my life.
Q. Your serve, I mean, how much work have you put into the serve and how much has it made a change for you, the little changes that you made?
RAFAEL NADAL: Every day I explain, and probably today I didn't serve as good as I did during all the week. But I still served well, better than usual. I change a little bit the grip, and what I change especially is the position. Important thing is I know I have to serve well if I really want to have any day the chance to win here. So I always repeat this to myself. I worked a lot to serve well during all my career, and I have to keep working that hard. The serve at the point of today is good, but not enough. I don't have the control of the situation with my serve because every day is new for me, and I served already very good for the last six matches. We will see what happen tomorrow, but I don't feel I have completely defined the serve. So that's what I have to keep working on that way, because right now I think I am in the right way to finally serve well.
Q. When athletes win consistently and they reach the level you have, No. 1, they're very stubborn. They don't want to change anything. Why are you able to adapt and change things in your game even at the level you've reached?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I changed the strings in the end of the season. So, yeah, you are in the top, but the things works very well, but can works better always and worse. But always you have a risk, and you have to -- I don't know. In English is not -- I am not inspired today. Only inspiration was on court. (Laughter.) Forget. (Laughter.)
Q. You've always been extremely hungry. You could have been the king of clay only, and you worked and worked to win Wimbledon. You could have done just that, and you worked and worked to do what you're doing on hard court. Does that hunger come from, I want to win everywhere, or is it just, I want to be the best I can be? Why is it you're always not satisfied?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, because I always thought I always can keep improving. That's why I am playing, to keep improving and to feel myself better player than before. I go to practice every day not to practice; I go to practice every day to try to learn something and to keep improving my level. I already won on hard, so that's not nothing new for me to win on this surface. But the conditions in every tournament are different, and I need to have more options to do to try to win against difficult players like today. Like in the past, I had a lot of problems against Youzhny in the past, because I was playing before two meters behind the baseline or three meters behind the baseline, all the balls higher with topspin, and he had always the chance to come inside. Now I can change the rhythm. I can play a slice backhand. I can serve, win a little bit more free points with the serve, and I can play more close to the baseline. So the position on court improved, the slice backhand improved, and it was important shot for me to stop the rhythm of that player. For sure the forehand always was good. The true, I think I am more close to the baseline now.