Rafael Nadal’s Monte Carlo streak finally came to an end today at the hands of Novak Djokovic who beat the Spaniard 62, 76 in the final just finished a few hours ago.
Nadal’s numbers at the event were staggering: 46 straight match wins, 8 straight titles. But afterward he admitted that it was Novak’s day.
“Today, he was better than me,” Nadal said. “He’s a fantastic player. If you are not at 100%, is very difficult to win against these kinds of players. His game is very complete. To win, I have to play my best and I have to bring him to the limit.”
100%? Does that mean Nadal’s health or his game?
Despite the loss Nadal said he is happy to be playing tennis again after missing so much time with the knee last season. Nadal now heads to Barcelona where he has won 34 straight matches and 8 titles.
“Hopefully, I can play another great week in Barcelona next week,” Nadal said. “Play some matches that will keep helping to put me in the 100% physical conditioning.”
After a bye, the second-seeded Nadal will face the Berlocq/Gimeno-Traver winner.
His post-match presser:
Q. He came out so strong. He’s won games against you before, but when he started that strongly, how did you feel?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think even if is true that he started very strong, my feeling was 4 0 was too much. I had very good chances to win the second game. Then I had a tough game, the third one. Then I had 30 Love with my serve another time. So all of this at the end he was playing great, yes, but I was feeling that I was not playing bad.
These kind of matches, 2 All can be possible. So is not something that you start and you don’t feel the ball, the opponent is winning every point. No, that was not my feeling this afternoon.
Is true that he was playing great, probably better than me, but not that different. If you are there 3 1, you are inside the set. 4 0 is too much, no?
That’s what happened. I think he played a little bit better than me, especially in the first set. I didn’t had that feeling in the second. I had 15 40, then I had the break, then 4 2, 6 5. I felt that I was playing really well the second set and I was having more chances than him.
But I need a little bit more physical performance. That’s the real thing, to play all that points with the same intensity. I get tired more to play with that intensity, earlier than what I used to do it.
So, yeah, even like this I had the chance to win the set. But I get tired in the 4 2. Then to win 5 All, have the break, was a few very intense points. I get tired to play the 6 5. I didn’t play with that intensity. When you start to have that feeling, is tough.
Q. I know you say that you felt you were not the favorite with the time you had spent out of the game. But does it hurt to finally lose here after so long?
RAFAEL NADAL: Hurt or not hurt, I don’t know. I like to win more than lose, but that’s sport. Is not a tragedy. I lost after eight years without losing here. That’s something. That’s the more normal thing that can happen after all the success that I had here.
I think for me it was a positive week. That’s the thing. Was a really positive week for me. I didn’t have the practice in Mallorca, I just practiced here before the tournament. With not much preparation, I was able to play in the finals, a few matches. This week going to help me be fit for the next weeks. Hopefully I can play another great week in Barcelona next week, play some matches that will keep helping to put me in the 100% condition physically talking. If we talk about tennis, I was pleased about my tennis this afternoon.
So that’s all, no? I think I’m in the right way. Five finals in a row. If you tell me that four months before, I will be crying for emotions, no? Just very happy to be able to play against the best players of the world another time, and play with real chances. That’s very, very important for me and is fantastic new. I feel emotions about that.
Q. Will you have enough time between now and Roland Garros to get the energy levels up to what you need to retain the title?
RAFAEL NADAL: I play Barcelona. That’s my schedule. Roland Garros is very far. I will try my best now to play a very good week in Barcelona. Is a tournament that I love. Roland Garros is there. We have Barcelona, then we have Madrid, then we have Rome. It’s enough time, I think yes. It’s more than enough. If I am keep doing as well as I did during all this week, why not?
Q. The second set 4 2, chance to serve for the set at 6 5, was it just physical or were you nervous or was there something else?
RAFAEL NADAL: Seriously, 2011 I felt against Novak a few times the tension. I feel a little bit anxious in some important moments. Was not the case today. I didn’t felt that way this afternoon. I fighted to be back on the match after a tough first set.
Is not only physical, but is mental too. But you know at the end is not easy to separate that, no. When you are bad mentally, you feel worse physically. But I really am not bad mentally today. Not in that moment I am bad mentally. I am fresh. I am enjoy to be on the tour another time.
When you get tired physically, the mental part is very difficult to maintain there. Even like this, I tried hard, I tried hard for moments to put one more ball inside. When that happened, I really didn’t feel that I was far to have the chance to win a match against him.
Today he was better than me. I just can congratulate him and his team. I really hope that I will have another chance.
Q. It’s a little bit strange. You won on hard court and Novak Djokovic lost. Today you lost on clay and Djokovic won. How do you see that?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, is not the first time that happen. Is not the first tournament I lost on clay. Indian Wells was not the first tournament I won on hard. The same for him. Is not his first victory on clay and is not his first lose on hard. That’s tennis.
Historically I played better than him on clay, little bit, yes. Historically he probably played better than me on hard, yes. But we were not one here and one there (indicating far apart). I don’t know how many titles I won on hard and how many titles he won on clay.
I think both of us, we are complete players and we can play on every surface. Win or lose, we were in the finals both.
Q. When you were one break up, you lost your serve 4 3 at 15. When you were 6 5, you lost your set to love. Then on the three points of the tiebreaker, you lost three out of four. Do you think the serve also wasn’t helping you enough maybe in terms of percentage? I’m asking, in these moments was the serve somehow important?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I felt better today from the back. That’s the real things. But I was able to serve faster today, this afternoon. I really served much better than what I did the previous days.
Yesterday I had an average 150 something. Today was higher. That’s a positive thing.
I felt better. The treatment worked well. I feel more, you know, healthy this afternoon from the back than what I felt the last two days. So that’s a positive thing.
But in general I am playing against probably the best returner of the world. So was not the question of the serve. The serve can give me some points. But when I’m losing these points in a row, it’s because something goes wrong from the baseline, not from the serve, no. That’s my feeling.
Serve can help me more, yes. But was not the fault today.
Q. Can you explain what you still feel is difficult in Djokovic’s game regarding your game, what are the issues when you’re facing him?
RAFAEL NADAL: Which ranking is him (smiling)?
Q. In some player’s game you have something that is more difficult than other ones.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, but I am playing against best player of the world. He’s a fantastic player. If you are not at your 100%, is very difficult to win against these kind of players. That’s all. His game is great. His game is very complete. To win, I have to play my best and I have to bring him to the limit.
When I was in my 100% in the past, probably he had the same feeling. But that’s the sport. That’s the good thing about the sport. Bring your tennis or your body to the limit to do a bit more and win these kind of matches. These kind of matches are special ones. To win against players like Novak, if you are not at your 100% full, is almost impossible.
Q. You had the breaks in the second set, but he returned really well. Is it disappointing to lose, because you did play well the second set, that makes it more disappointing to lose because it could have gone to a third set and been a different ballgame?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. Was more disappointing if I was losing 6 2, 6 2. That’s the real thing. Was disappointing? Yes. I don’t like to lose, I say before. But for me certainly it was a very positive week. Nothing to say.
I feel for moments in the second set I played my best tennis of the week. So that’s important thing. When I was doing that, I wasn’t far of him, even if I was playing in the right way to win. I needed a little bit more. I needed more physical performance. I needed more matches to play with this intensity all the time. I need to be completely focused in every moment. That gives you the competition, gives you this special things, extra things, when you are playing against some players maybe you don’t need sometimes. But to play against Novak, to play against few players, you will need, and I need. I going to work on that.
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