After a heartbreaking five set loss in 5:53 to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, Rafael Nadal spoke to the media in Melbourne early Monday morning:
Q. How are you feeling physically?
RAFAEL NADAL: Fine. No, I’m tired, sure. Physically was the toughest match I ever played, if not the tougher. I am tired.
Q. Has this sunk in, the results, the magnitude of the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat?
Q. Has the results sunk in yet? How do you feel mentally as well as physically?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. No, no, no, nothing to do on that, no? Just accept.
I think we played a great tennis match. It was I think a very good show, my opinion. I enjoyed being part of this event and this match. That’s the true, no?
I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player of the world today. I played one against one. For a long time I didn’t felt that I was playing in less advantage than him, you know.
I didn’t play at lower level than him for a long time, so that’s a very positive thing for me. I am very happy about my mentality tonight, the mentality worked like in my best moments.
So very happy about the beginning of the 2012 season. That’s all that I can say.
Yeah, I had big chance for the 52, yes. I had that easy passing shot with the backhand. I miss it, yes, but I was 43 Love40 in the fourth, too. Anything can happen when the match is there.
Important thing for me, during all 2011 I didn’t play much like this. I’m happy I am in the real right way.
Q. If the day before the championship someone would say you would play a fivehour53minute match in the final, would you have been completely surprised that you could even compete?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, seriously, 20 hours before the tournament start for me I was more worried and try to play the first round, try to play the tournament, because I had a really strange thing, as you know, the Sunday afternoon.
So that’s past. I was lucky. Recovery was fantastic. I had very good people around me here working for me, doctor, physio, so that helps a lot, no?
If you are alone here, you don’t have this team around, is impossible to recover that. But I am lucky that I have all of this team around me. Without them, probably I gonna be at home two weeks earlier, no?
So very happy for everything. Very happy with my level during both weeks. Is the moment when I realize the whole tournament did I well. I did a lot of very positive things, much more than in 2011 for the most of the time.
I played more aggressive. I played with more winners than ever. My serve worked well. The mentality and the passion was there another time better than probably never another time.
So that’s very positive aspects on whole game that I am very happy, no? So I just lost the final of a Grand Slam. I am not happy to lose the final, yes, but that’s one of the loses that I am more happy in my career.
Q. Did you feel at any time in the fifth set the match was in your control? Given that he had to play so long against Murray a couple nights ago, were you surprised that he could stay with you that long?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I didn’t have any doubt that he would be ready for that, no? But the match under control when you’re in the fifth set, when you won the fourth like this, you don’t feel the match under control in that moment. You are worried in every point, no?
Well, with the 42 was advantage because I felt very well physically in the moment. I felt with very positive energy, and I played a fantastic first point of the 42 with the forehand winner down the line after he had that return.
Is something unbelievable how he returns, no? His return probably is one of the best of the history. That’s my opinion, no? I never played against a player who’s able to return like this. Almost every time.
It’s true I had big mistake with 3015. But it’s not moment to think about that. That’s another just moment in an almost sixhours match. Forget about that knowing that I really had real, very real chances to have the title and to win against a player who I lost six times last year.
But I didn’t. I never put him in this situation during 2011, all 2011, so that’s another positive thing for me. I didn’t have mental problems today against him. I had in 2011 all these mental problems. Today I didn’t have. I compete with normal conditions against him, no?
So that’s another positive thing. Probably never say that many positive things after I lose. (Laughter.)
Q. You always said that Roger is the greatest that ever played the game. How great now is Novak?
RAFAEL NADAL: Now he’s the best of the world. That’s how great it is. Five Grand Slams, so the history says that he has a part in the history today winning five Grand Slams, winning a lot of titles, No. 1 of the world.
We’ll see where he arrives.
Q. You have been a part of two of the real epic battles in tennis history, this and the 2008 Wimbledon final. Is that something that you’re proud of or a reason why you think you…
RAFAEL NADAL: A pleasure. That’s means that I did a lot of things well to compete against best players of the world and winning on them, losing on them, but always having tough matches. And final 2008 Wimbledon and this one was very special.
For me it was a little bit more special the 2008 (smiling). But I really understand that was a really special match, and probably a match that gonna be in my mind not because I lost, no, because the way that we played.
So that’s happy be part of these two great matches, my opinion.
Q. Where does that rate? How tough was that? Was that the toughest match? Toughest game you have been involved in? Where does it rank?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think it’s the longest one that I played ever.
Q. Are you going to watch it again on videotape?
RAFAEL NADAL: Too long. (Laughter.) Highlights only.
Q. When you’re in that match, did you ever look at the clock? Did you ever look at the clock during the match, at the time?
RAFAEL NADAL: The time? No, you watch, you look around and you see the watch, five hours, four hours, three hours, finally five hours, 30. Seems like never gonna finish, no?
But that’s nice be there fighting, you know, trying to go to the limit, bring your body to the limit of his chances. Something I really enjoy, and I always said is good suffer, enjoy enjoy suffering, no?
So when you are fit, when you are, you know, with passion for the game, when you are ready to compete, you are able to suffer and enjoy suffering, no?
I don’t know if I express very well, but is something that maybe you understand. So today I had this feeling, and is a really good one. I enjoyed. I suffered during the match, but I enjoyed all the troubles that I had during all the match.
I enjoyed. I tried to be there, to find solutions all the time. I played a lot with my heart. I played a lot with my mind, and is something that is nice to be around and not just play tennis.
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