Rafael Nadal Interview
Australian Open, January 20
Win over Ryan Sweeting
Q. Were you aware of who your opponent was today? Had you ever heard of him?
RAFAEL NADAL: About him? I heard about him, but I really didn't know how he play. Yeah, my uncle was watching the match the other day. He knows what he do better, what he do worse.
But, yeah, I think he's young. He can improve. He has to improve the serve, because with his tall he can serve much better.
Q. What do you take out of today's game, if anything? Is there anything that you can take out of it for the rest of the tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I played a solid match. A few mistakes with the backhand, that's all. The serve, my serve improved a lot since the first day. I think I was serving very well today. To the right, to the chair umpire, the sun was there and was very difficult for some moments.
But in general, I think my serve worked really well, so happy for that. Movement good; backhand good; having a few more mistakes than usual. I have to play longer with the backhand. Maybe have to play a little bit more aggressive, more inside the court.
But in general I am happy.
Q. Seems possible that you might have to play a young Australian in the next round, Bernard Tomic. What do you know about him?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know him. He's very young. He has very good potential to be in the top positions in the future. Well, he's playing well. He's winning two sets now. We will see who gonna win the match.
But anyway, both opponents going to be really difficult in third round of Grand Slam. No one opponent can be easy. I have to play well if I want to win against both of them.
Q. Is there anything harder about playing someone who is a local identity, if not a favorite?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is good, no? I think is nice to have a young Australian coming well and having very good talent and very good future. So gonna be a nice match if that happen. So I'm excited to go on court and to try my best tennis, and for sure to try to win.
The crowd is always fantastic here anyway. If I play against local heroes, like I played against Lleyton a few years ago, the crowd was fantastic all the time. For sure the support is always with them, but always with very good respect for me, you know. I felt all my career very good here and the crowd was always supporting me, so for me is not a problem that.
Q. If you haven't have experience, it's not someone you played against a lot, what do you do to prepare yourself if you're a little unsure of the way he plays?
RAFAEL NADAL: If I play against Tomic?
RAFAEL NADAL: What can I say different? What can I do different? Practice little bit tomorrow, rest in the hotel, maybe going to the aquarium. I didn't go this year. I go every year. So that's all.
Q. So you're pretty relaxed about it?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, but I gonna be nervous, if you want, 10 minutes before the match and when the match start. But two days ago, before, if I start to be nervous two days ago, I have a big problem, I think (laughter).
Q. What did you think of Roger's match last night?
RAFAEL NADAL: Very nice match, I think. Very high level of tennis. I think Roger started the match playing very aggressive, very well. But always Simon is very difficult to beat, no? When he's playing well, he's fast. When the match is longer, he don't have mistakes. You need to play all the points really good to beat him.
Five set match, that's long time. You have to play well long time to beat Gilles. I think he had amazing comeback, two sets all. He had a good chance in the beginning of the fifth with Love 30, but I think Roger played very well the important moments, no? He played aggressive. He had good serves, very good cross backhands and good volleys.
Was a very good tennis match. Finally, I think Roger deserves to win because he was playing really well.
Q. Do you think it's harder these days for a young player to make headway in the game, to improve quickly enough to be at a standard to play the number of players there are in the game today, a young player, with so much pressure on them?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I think always happen that. When I arrived, since like is impossible to be in the top, because in that moment, all the players was very good and very young: Coria, Nalbandian, Roger, Lleyton, Roddick. A lot of ones in the top.
And when I saw the rankings, I say, Well, I don't know how I can be there, no? But finally you improve every year, you improve every day, you're going to have your chance, no? And that's what I tried.
Finally I did in 2005. So when I started to play well, I improved little bit my level, I think I was able to go there. And for sure this is difficult, but I think is the problem of the best today is I think we are still young. Del Potro is young. Murray, Djokovic, Soderling, Berdych, hopefully myself (smiling). We're still young. Hopefully we can be there for a long time.
But the tennis is very hard sport and is really difficult have a very, very long career, no? So you always gonna have problems. One injury, three months out. Another one, one month out. Another one is tired mentally. So everybody has his chance.
Q. You experienced what it was like to be a teenager on the way up playing against the very best. How do you think Bernard will feel if he does play you? How do you think he should approach the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: What he needs to do?
Q. What he would need to do.
RAFAEL NADAL: Play very bad, please (laughter). That's what I can say to him, so...
I don't know what he has to do, no? The first thing, he has to play well.
Q. When you were a teenager playing against the best in the world on your way up, how did you approach the games? What was your attitude?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is much easier when you are a teenager, I think. When you have 17 or 18, everything is easier. You play with no pressure. You can win, you can lose, everything is fine. That's a different mentality. You can play more aggressive. For everybody is the same history I think, no?
When you arrive, you hit all the balls like crazy and without think, without pressure. When you are there (indicating at a high level) you start to think a little bit more about you have to play this shot, you have to play another shot, I can't lose this match, I have to win this match for sure.
That's a little bit more problems. When you are coming up, you play quarterfinals perfect; you play semifinals fantastic; you play final very good; and if you win, is unbelievable. So when you are there, you play quarterfinals, say, Well, is good. Is not my tournament, but you are going back very happy at home.
So that is different view and different perspective of the game. So the pressure is higher when you are in the top. Seems like can be a different thing, but believe me, that's what happen.
Q. How do you deal with the high pressure because everybody expects you to win every game? How do you deal with this high pressure?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I am in a different moment of my career. That's happened to me in 2006, 2007 perhaps, but not the day of today. The day of today, I am lucky. I have 24 and a half. I won what I win, what I won in the past, and that's more than what I ever dreamed.
So my moment is different. I am very happy about what I did. That's give me a lot of calm. I have probably less pressure right now, last year's season, winning a lot. I have to work hard every day. That's what I do: keep practicing with humble, illusion, and motivation for sure, waiting my chances, trying to find my chances.
But I have pressure, yes, but for sure less than when I was playing in 2006 and 2007.