Two-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal spoke to the press yesterday after a thrilling 3-set win over Ernests Gulbis at the BNP Paribas Open. Nadal will play rival Roger Federer later tonight in the quarterfinals.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You certainly held the crowd. Did they inspire you? That was an awful lot of noise for you out there today.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, all the support of the crowd since I am coming back every place, you know, around every tournament that I played was amazing, and today was not an exception.
I just can say thank you very much all the fans. You know, in the tough moments like I had, they are very important. And, you know, in my coming back having matches like today and having matches that I am with some troubles like I had in Chile and Brazil and lot of days and the support, the feeling that you have a lot of people with you around is very important.
That’s, you know, give to me a lot of energy.
Q. As happens a lot in your matches on a lot of the intense points, you were grunting pretty loud. Can you talk about just why you grunt?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry?
Q. Just a general question about that.
RAFAEL NADAL: (Through translation.) During the point?
Q. Yeah. I know you do it a lot.
RAFAEL NADAL: (Shrugging.) I cannot answer. I didn’t know.
Q. You don’t know you’re grunting?
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s the first time I heard that my life.
Q. You don’t think you’re grunting?
RAFAEL NADAL: I cannot say I don’t think. The only thing I can say is I don’t feel it. I didn’t have that feeling never, so it’s first time that somebody told me that. For sure, if I did, you know, I didn’t because I wanted.
Q. First off, nice shirt.
RAFAEL NADAL: You like? Golf.
Q. Some of your fans were wondering why you didn’t hit to your forehand more often, because sometimes he’s shaky on his forehand. You seemed to go to his backhand a lot.
RAFAEL NADAL: I did in the last three games, so that’s give me the match. But, yeah, it’s true. I had to change it a little bit more directions. Today my movements weren’t perfect, you know. I felt for moments that playing against his backhand I had ‑‑I know it’s not the right thing, because to play against a player like Ernests, the right thing to do, in my opinion, is play against his backhand and change to his forehand quick, no?
But, yeah, today I didn’t have legs for that. Changing direction from behind not from side is much more difficult, so I felt more comfortable with my movements playing against his backhand.
I felt if I changed directions I had to run more, too. I didn’t want that today.
Q. After the first set, how would you assess your level of play? How is your knee playing?
RAFAEL NADAL: I said before the tournament my knee some days good, some days not that good. Today so‑so. But I fighted. I fighted every ball. I tried my best in every moment. I know I cannot go to some balls that in the past I went today, but I will do it in the future.
So win matches in days like today are more important that ever for me, and very happy about what I did on court. Happy about the attitude. With all the problems I was able to keep being focused and keep winning.
Today every victory is very important to me, and I really appreciate every moment and every victory.
Q. You’re going to be playing Roger for the first time before the semis and finals since the first time you guys played in Miami. Can you talk a little bit about what you remember from that match in 2004?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, since that moment was my best match ever. Feels like happened 100 years before. (Smiling.)
We played that much times after that. Well, tomorrow will be a nice match. Always play against Roger is a pleasure. This match arrives early for me, too early to, you know, to go to the match with the feeling that I can play equal conditions than him.
I think I am not that level today, but I gonna try, as I do always. I gonna try to enjoy the match. I’m going to try to play well and, you know, make the match positive for me with any result.
I am her in Indian Wells in quarterfinals. Two weeks ago I didn’t know if I would be able to be here. Being in quarterfinals is a fantastic result for me, and we’ll see.
It will be very difficult tomorrow for me.
Q. I just wonder how encouraged you are at your level here so far. You didn’t know you were going to play on hard court or how you were going to feel, but how encouraged are you by what you’ve done so far in this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: For tomorrow or in general?
Q. Your level of encouragement about what you have done far.
RAFAEL NADAL: I need to keep doing. I need time and I need matches more on clay than hard.
Be in quarterfinals is great. Be able to be here for, you know, seven days, ten days and play, practice with all the best players here with professional players is positive for me. That’s why I am here.
I didn’t want to go back home and stay one month and a half before Monte‑Carlo at home. I am tired to be at home and waiting for the competition and watching the competition and the matches, watching competition on the television.
So I am here, and I think any result tomorrow will be a positive week for me. That’s what I have to say and that’s what I have to think, because I think that’s the right thing.
Q. If you’re not moving the way you want to, did you think about ending points more quickly, or is it because you like to set up points usually that it’s hard to force yourself to do that?
RAFAEL NADAL: To end the points quickly you have to move quick, because if you don’t take the ball early you cannot finish the point early.
You cannot pretend to‑‑ you know, if you’re not moving quick you cannot take the ball inside the court, because the ball comes quick and you have to be able to go against the ball very quick.
If I am playing with my conditions today, for me it’s easier to play one, two meters behind the baseline because I can move myself with a little bit more time. I have to play with electric movements like when I’m 100% well and I am able to play inside.
But seriously, tomorrow I don’t have much more to say than I have to play aggressive. I have to play aggressive to enjoy the match. If not, the match not gonna be good fun for me.
I always play one way against Roger, or similar, not always the same, but tomorrow will be not easy to do this as I do all the time, because I need to move quick, especially on hard to do this kind of game, no?
I don’t know if I am ready to do it, but we’ll see how I wake up tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel on court tomorrow. I gonna try my best in every moment.
Q. What do you do for your knee right after the match is finished in terms of treatment?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I have to put ice every day after the practice and after the match, and I do a lot of things with my physio. We are trying to put the quadriceps very powerful, but it’s very difficult sometimes when you have pain to do it because you cannot do the exercises. That’s the real thing, no?
We are trying to do it every, every day, even if I have pain, to create power in my quadriceps. But some days I’m not able to do it. That’s negative.
So we’re trying to find ways to have more power every day and to be able to compete every day with the best conditions possible.
Q. Would you say tonight was the most dramatic match you have played since you have been back, most suspense and drama and tension?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. Every match since I come back every match is emotional for me, every match is important. Tonight was an important match.
But for me was more important the semifinals of Acapulco because that give me the chance to win the tournament.
Today I’m very fine of that, especially in this kind of tournament. If I have to say about tension, my feeling was a little bit more, you know, tension match in semifinals of Acapulco against Almagro for what means to me, and because it was on a surface that I have a little bit more control of the situation.
But was a good match. Was emotional match. This kind of victories give me confidence, give me positive energy. I enjoy.
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