Rafael Nadal won his 8th consecutive Grand Slam match Wednesday at Wimbledon defeating Thomaz Bellucci in three sets. Nadal found himself down two breaks in the first set 4-0 before getting his game into gearing winning 76, 62, 63.
Afterward, the two-time Wimbledon champion and 11-time Slam winner met the press:
Q. What happened in the first few games of that match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, happened that I had the breakpoint in the first game, so I think I played a good first game. But he had a few chances at the first, and then two great serves in the advantage in the middle to the tee.
Then I played bad game with my serve. Even I think I have game point for me, or few chances, but I had a few mistakes with my forehand.
And then he hit a fantastic returns in the 3 0, so he played a great game. I was lucky to be back, that’s the thing. I feel lucky after 4 0 to be able to win the set.
Q. Thomaz said you don’t have any weakness in your game. Is that what you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think I have, but thank you for the words of Thomaz, no?
I think today I didn’t play my best match. I think especially at the first set I played little bit too nervous, little bit not knowing exactly what to do. My movements were a little bit in defensive way, not in aggressive way.
But I was able to keep winning the first set. That’s the important thing and the good news. Then I started to play better. The second and third set I played better, even if I had a big mistake in the third with 2 0, 30 Love to probably close the set with 3 0.
I felt in that moment I started to hit better the forehand. That’s the most important thing for me. And in the beginning I didn’t really had the best feeling with my forehand.
But then I started to feel a little bit better and I was able to hit a few forehands in a row with positive feeling, knowing that I don’t want to miss the ball. That’s a very important thing, no?
I think the serve worked great almost all the match. Just the beginning I start with not the best percentage, but I finished well, so I’m happy.
Q. We know the Olympics are going to be played here as well. Tell us a little bit about your thoughts about having the Olympics on grass here.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s great that we gonna play the Olympics here in Wimbledon. At the same time, it’s not great that you play in a very important competition on grass the best of three. That’s makes the tournament a little bit more crazy. You know, everybody can win everybody even more than in hard or clay, because playing best of three the match can be decided in just a few points.
So that’s probably the negative thing. In every match, you are at the limit.
Q. Is it crazy for you or a crazy idea in general?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t say ‘crazy idea’. Maybe I don’t have the right word in English. But is a little bit more difficult to predict what gonna happen. That’s what I wanted to say.
I think it’s great to have the Olympics here in Wimbledon, but playing best of three on grass in a very important competition makes the tournament, no, more difficult for everybody because there is no favorites then.
Q. Last time you went behind so far in a first set was against Soderling a couple years ago. You came back and went on to win the Championships. Do you find that sort of start helps you to focus your mind?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is a completely different feeling, no? I think against Soderling was in quarterfinals a few years ago. Here is the first round. I just played two matches on grass this year before here. I need time. I need to play. That’s an important victory for me.
We’ll see what’s going on in the next match. I need to keep improving. That’s what I gonna try. Going to be a difficult tournament, but I am here to try my best as I did every year and hopefully I can play a little bit better in the next round.
The important thing and the best feeling for me is that I improved my game during the match, and that’s important for the practice of tomorrow and the next match.
Q. Do you find it difficult to change from clay court to grass, and how do you adjust?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am sure that is difficult, no, especially when you arrive to the grass playing almost every match possible in the last couple of months. The transition is aggressive one, and sometimes playing as much as I did the last couple of months, you start to have, you know, physical, not problems, but troubles, so you cannot practice as much as you would like to prepare the tournament, no?
But that’s not new for me. Just accept the situation and try my best in every moment. In the past, worked well; hopefully this year will be working well another time.
Q. I am not going to ask you would you want to win tomorrow in EuroCup semifinals, but could you talk a little bit about the Portuguese team and Cristiano Ronaldo? I know you met him before.
RAFAEL NADAL: Cristiano is fighting for being the best Player of the Year. I had the chance to met him a few times. He’s great. He’s a winner. We will be in trouble if he has his best day. Portugal have a complete team.
Well, but, being a supporter of Spain, you cannot expect to win the semifinals of Euros against an easy opponent. Is the same that when I am in the semifinals of Roland Garros. You have a tough opponent in front.
So Spain have one of the toughest opponents possible in front, and hopefully Spain can keep playing the way that we did the last couple of years almost six years and be able to be in that final another time.
Q. Everyone has a greatest rival. Who would that be for you? Is this someone you really prefer not to play in the tournament? If you could sometimes tell us your dream, what should be.
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t understand nothing. Can you repeat?
Q. The first question is, everybody has their greatest competitor, rival. Who would that be for you? Maybe you’re special and you don’t care.
RAFAEL NADAL: There is few kind of rivals, no? You can talk about rivals that you are competing to be in the top positions of the ranking, and the real thing is the rival that I care is Rosol or Dodig that I gonna play day after tomorrow.
RAFAEL NADAL: Rosol won already? So now I care about Rosol.
If you talk about the competitor for the ranking, the rival, I cannot say one because I really don’t feel that I have one. Disappointing, I have much more than one.
Q. You haven’t lost in the first week of a major for seven years now. When you found yourself down in the first set, does something like that give you some confidence that you can come through those early round matches even when it’s tough?
RAFAEL NADAL: I really don’t think about these kind of things when I am on court. I try to find a solution about the problem that I had in that moment, try to find a way to start playing better.
Is great that I didn’t lost, as you say, in the first week, but that’s going to happen. I don’t know if here or in the next one, but everybody lose, no?
So just try to keep playing well, focus. Just, as I tell, I try to think always moment by moment.
Q. Do you think Germany has a chance against Spain? Are you scared at all by any German player? What do you think about the team?
RAFAEL NADAL: Seriously, you know, I think is not the right question. I will answer, but is not the right question because you cannot expect to not have chances Germany against Spain.
It’s one of the best teams of the world against another one of the best teams of the world. Everybody have chances against everybody. What can I answer you? Yes, sure they have chances. Hopefully not, but first thing, tomorrow Germany have to play against Italy and Spain has to play against Portugal.
I don’t know if we’re going to meet in the final. Maybe it will be for third and fourth. Hopefully we can play that match and win another time.
Q. Whether you consider them rivals or not, you, Novak, and Roger have certainly dominated the Grand Slams for the last seven years. What do you think the biggest reason for that is?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is difficult to answer this one for me. Somebody ask me this question a few weeks ago in Roland Garros, and my answer was, I cannot say anything in particular because can sound arrogant what I gonna say. That’s the real thing.
So I prefer to say that that’s what happened the last couple of years probably because we were very focused, we were playing great, we were very regular players. So that’s why. Then the rest of the things, to find arguments why really that happened, I am really not the right one to say it.
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