Rafael Nadal met the Halle press this afternoon. He spoke about his French Open title, the theft of his watch and the difficulty in going from clay to grass in such a short time.
Here’s his presser:
Q: How difficult is it coming from Paris on such an emotional high to grass court and what kind of adjustment are you going to have to make? You were just out practicing. What were you concentrating on?
NADAL: Sure, the week after a tournament winning a tournament like Roland Garros is never easy because you play with a lot of tension, a lot of emotion. At the same time, we had a tough season. I specially played a lot of matches during this clay court season. So, you’re always a little bit tired after the French Open. But the adjustment that I have to do is the same like every year. First thing, try do adapt to the speed of the court, try to remember a little bit how to hit the ball on a grass court and for sure the movement. It’s totally different on grass than clay. So, that makes it difficult. But that’s nothing new. It’s something that happens year by year. I came here in 2005. It was not easy. I played last couple of years in Queens. Always the transition was never easy. A tournament after the French Open, you have to be very careful because the first round will be very dangerous against every player.
Q: I never saw Toni jumping so crazy in the stands. It seemed to be quite special for him. Was it the same for you?
NADAL: For sure, it was a special victory for me. It was special because we felt that our projecting during the whole year was the right one to win there in Roland Garros. It’s a very special tournament for us. Sure losing three Grand Slam finals in a row stays in your mind. That probably makes the victory more special than others. At the same time to win seven is something for us more than unbelievable. That’s why we were emotional very happy because at the same time we work a lot to play at the level we are playing this year.
Q: Did Bjorn Borg get a hold of you and send you his congratulations?
NADAL: Yes, he did. I didn’t talk personally with him but he talked with Carlos Costa, my agent. He said that he talked with him, he just congratulated me that it’s unbelievable what I did. It’s always great to receive congratulations from a big champion like Bjorn. He is one of the more important players in the history in our sport, in tennis. I just can say thank you to him because he always thought very nice about me.
Q: It’s only been a couple of days since your victory. Did you already have time to really …. Can you already believe what you have achieved? Did everything already sink in?
NADAL: I believe yes. It’s not the first time. It’s not my first year on Tour. I already have almost ten year on the Tour. With experience you learn to accept the victories with cool, to accept the losses with cool. Because the Tour continues. Two days ago was a very happy day for me, for all my team, my family, all the people, who really support me. But today we are in Halle. We have a match tomorrow. And hopefully I don’t have chances to lose tomorrow. Hopefully, I will have my chances to win. You cannot go crazy, celebrate because you always lose. Tennis is a sport that you lose more than you win because only one player can win every week. It’s not like in golf that you don’t lose. You finish no. 3rd, no. 5th. In tennis you lose (laughs). That’s the difference.
Q: There is a lot of expectation to see you in the final against Roger. Are you ready for that pressure?
NADAL: No. (laughs) No, I am not ready for that pressure. Not now. Let’s go day by day. I said before how difficult it is that week after a success like the French Open. But the only thing that I can say is that I will try my best as I do in every tournament that I play during all year. But probably for me it’s the most difficult tournament of the year. Because I don’t have time to adapt. I don’t have time to spend three hours on the court because my physical condition doesn’t accept it this period of time. I tried my best today in the morning working one hour and a half before a doubles match. I never do something like this in a normal tournament but that’s the only way to try to adapt a little bit my game. But it’s the most drastic change in the season. So, that makes the success in this tournament very difficult. But I repeat for sure I am very happy to be here in Halle another time. It’s a fantastic tournament, great atmosphere, I saw a lot of people around, that’s great for our sport. I can just say thank you very much to the organisation for the invitation for me for this year. My motivation is high and I will try my best in every moment, in every practice to arrive to the match of tomorrow being competitive. But I repeat, it’s a difficult one.
Q: What do you remember of your last experience here in Halle?
NADAL: I really don’t remember a lot. It was 2005. The situation was different. As I told you before, when you win a tournament like Roland Garros, it is very difficult to play the next week. In 2005, it was the first time for me here. I arrived here, it was different. Today, I can lose tomorrow but for sure I will try to be very focussed on the match, on every practice, something I already did probably the last six years. But in 2005 after winning the first Grand Slam in my career, Roland Garros, that was very difficult.
Q: After these two weeks in Paris, how was your first day and the first night in Halle?
NADAL: It was great. I enjoyed it. I was able to go to the official meal last night, the official party. I relaxed there a bit, not very late, but a few hours with the colleagues, with the friends, with the team. I saw the people from the tennis, people here from Halle and enjoyed a bit a relaxing night. It was perfect for me to be away a little bit of the normal routine. That’s what I tried. I woke up today, I practiced. The place is great. I remember it always was great in 2005. I think the organisation is one of the best. I’m very happy to be here.
Q: One question relating to football. The Spanish team watched your final in Paris. And Del Bosque said that you were one of the most important athletes in the history of Spain. What would you answer to the Spanish team? And are you going to watch the Spanish games?
NADAL: I just can say thank you for the support, for the honour. I watched a little bit of the first match against Italy. I don’t know if you know but I was playing (laughs). I watched a little bit the match after the second rain delay. I watched when Spain scored and I saw a few opportunities at the end of the match of Fernando Torres. But I just can say thanks for the support and they know that I’m always supporting them, always watching. I will probably watch today a few matches. I think today Holland plays against Germany and Portugal against Denmark. So, it will be two fantastic football matches. I’m a big fan of football and I will watch today and I think Spain will play tomorrow. So, I will be watching tomorrow for sure.
Q: For the past years this has been Roger’s tournament. It could become yours in the next few years.
NADAL: I try my best. Roger is a big grass court specialist. I did very well in the last few years. I won Wimbledon, I won one time in Queens. But for Roger probably the adaptation, the transition from clay to grass is easier than for me. He needs less time than me. It’s a little bit similar like when I make the transition from grass to clay. It’s a little bit easier for me. With one day, everything comes easy. For me, even if I have a good success on grass the last couple of years, for sure I need my period of time, I need to spend hours on court, to compete. I’m here and every match that I will compete will work for me. For sure, I will try to play as many hours as possible on court. Every victory is very important for me here.
Q: I read that there was a thief in your hotel room in Paris. Can you tell us something about this episode?
NADAL: Everything is under control with the French police. They did fantastic work. They found the watch. So, I’m very happy for that. I cannot say nothing wrong with the hotel. The hotel did great for me every time that I was there for the last eight years and I will be back in the hotel next year. The hotel is great with me. It was one person from outside and I will be very happy to be back.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the doubles match this afternoon?
NADAL: Well, the doubles match … It’s the same as I was talking before, for me it’s to spend hours on court, time on court, practicing, competing, adapting. It’s true that I won’t play probably the Olympics with my partner here, with Marcel Granollers, but the real thing for me is more preparation for the singles of tomorrow, to compete, to spend time on the court, to serve a bit, to adapt to the conditions on grass. That’s probably going to help.
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