Rafael Nadal remained dominant Saturday in the semifinals at the US Open. The Spaniard ran his 2013 hardcourt record to 21-0 after thoroughly whipping Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6, 6-2.
Nadal has now reached the finals at 12 of the 13 events that he’s played this year since returning from a knee injury in February. And in the final on Monday Nadal will meet rival Novak Djokovic.
Rafa leads the Serb 21-15 including recent wins in Canada and at the French Open. This will be the second time the two play in the US Open.
Should Nadal win he’ll also increase his Grand Slam haul to 13 which is just four from Roger Federer’s 17.
Nadal commented on what a title this week in New York mean and a whole lot more:
Q. Each of the remaining men and women have won one Grand Slam this year. What would winning a second
title mean towards determining who had the most successful 2013 season?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Well, at the end, you know, not everything is about Grand Slams. That’s the first thing. Not all the tennis depends only on the Grand Slams, so we have to look not only at the four Grand Slams to see how the season goes. For me, I was able to play three Grand Slam this season. I won one; I lost in the third round in another. That’s a great result for me. Happy the way that I played since I came back. I gonna try my best to win on Monday. But be the second will not make the difference. What makes the difference is win the US Open. That’s most important and win one or second, no? Either one for me means the same. That match means the same if I already had one or doesn’t matter. At the end, for me the only important thing is the US Open. That’s the most important thing.
Q. I asked you earlier in the tournament about wins in Montreal and Cincinnati, and I phrased it in such a way as, are they great confidence builders for this. You very clearly said, They’re more than that. They’re great accomplishments in their own right. Then I just heard what you were saying here. So do you think that too many times we make greatness all about Grand Slams and maybe put too much emphasis on the Grand Slams?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am nobody to say what you are doing or if it’s right or if it’s not right.
Q. What’s your opinion?
RAFAEL NADAL: But my opinion is at the end, no doubt that the Grand Slams are the bigger tournaments that we have on the tour. But at the same time, is no doubt that in the other tournaments all best players are playing too in the Masters 1000s. Is more important to win Grand Slam? Yes. 100 percent. Is fair says, for example I will say I don’t know. I don’t know how to say. Let’s say if Richard is having a great season, but if Richard beat me today and win the final tomorrow and this year I won five Masters 1000s, three more tournaments and I don’t win not one Grand Slam, you will say that he had a better season than my one? I don’t think so (smiling). So that’s what I mean when I say Grand Slams are important, yes, but are not everything, no? For me, what makes me happy is for sure be in the final of a US Open. Makes me very happy. Is big result for me. Very happy for everything the way that I am playing. But what really makes me happy is be competitive in every tournament that I am playing, and that’s why I am very happy today, because in this season I was able to play all finals and one first round. That means I was very competitive in every tournament, and makes me more happy have the chance to win every time that win one Grand Slam and then lose in early rounds the rest of the tournaments.
Q. What was the key for you in this match today?
RAFAEL NADAL: It was very tough conditions out there today. Wind, it was very strong. Very difficult to play. I think I played solid first set. That’s very important, win the first in these kind of matches. Then in the second when seems I had match under control, everything changed. Richard played better. I had a few games that I didn’t play that well, and I was lucky in the second with this 4-3, 15-40, one ace, and one good serve to the body. So very important that that come back, and then I think I played a great tiebreak. So win the second set I don’t say is done, but is a big advantage.
Q. In your opinion, will Monday’s men’s final be a higher quality because you and Novak will have tomorrow off to rest, or can you say?
RAFAEL NADAL: Higher quality or not, I don’t think so that will be higher quality. Because the two previous matches that we had here in the final we already had day off because it was raining (smiling). So will be better quality than the previous matches? I don’t know. But will not be the case. What I am sure is more fair for the players.
Q. You like the day off?
RAFAEL NADAL: I like to finish the tournaments on Sunday, not on Monday. But talking about fair, for sure is more fair finish on Monday having one day off between semifinals and final than play semifinals Saturday and final Sunday. Because it happens that one player have a very long match today. Tomorrow, you know, you are in trouble.
Q. This will be the 37th time you have played Novak. How much do you enjoy playing him?
RAFAEL NADAL: I prefer to play against another one (smiling), but is what it is. At the end, well, we have to be honest, no? We don’t have to be stupid. (laughter). Talking about a final, I want to play against a player that I have more chances to win. But I play against him. I played against him a lot of times. Always we played very exciting matches. When you play, when you are involved in these kind of matches, you feel special. And at the end, even if I lost that final in Australia, I feel happy to be involved in that match. Semifinals in Roland Garros this year have been very emotional, too. Few weeks ago in Montreal have been, you know, good, very good level, no, of tennis? Is good if both of us, we are playing at very good level so the match becomes great because we play long rallies, we bring our game to the limit situations, and becomes a very difficult match for both of us. Hopefully I hope to be ready for that. I don’t know. I gonna try. I need to keep playing very aggressive and play a very, very good match. Only like this I gonna have chances. That’s what I gonna try.
Q. John McEnroe said that Gasquet came to the net, served and volleyed, 18 times, won 18 points
RAFAEL NADAL: Won 18?
Q. Why he wasn’t coming in more? Do you think it was your strong returns? Your passing shots that kept him back? He was scoring a lot serve and volley. Were you aware of that?
RAFAEL NADAL: He was success with the serve and volley?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, probably that passing shots didn’t came today, but he can do it because he has a very good movements in the net. He has a very good volley and he’s quick there. Today probably he went more to the net than usual today because the conditions were very difficult. Very difficult to play long points from the baseline sometimes, and that’s why he came to the net more often than what he’s doing normally, no? Was not a strange situation for me.
Q. A nontennis question: I just wondered what your reaction was to the Olympics announcement. Were you disappointed?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. Yes, at the end is what there is. Is hard. Is tiring for all of us, because all the country, all the city of Madrid worked a lot to have that chance, and for so many times already. So we feel that we deserve it, but is only two chances today in this case: Keep trying or say, Okay, we take a window, we take a rest for a while, and we will be there trying in a few years. But this one was hard for us. I was disappointed because we felt that we are in a good position. All the country was very involved on the Olympics movement. So when I heard that happened was surprise for me, especially being disqualified in the first round. Because I felt that after I don’t know, is the fourth time or the third? Fourth?
RAFAEL NADAL: Third? I felt that the people who decides my feeling was, well, after a lot of years working so much, I don’t know if it’s 100 percent fair that we go out at the first qualification when our opponents haven’t been in that position as many times.
Q. There is a feeling Novak is maybe more nervous on the court this season than past years. Do you share it? Do you have the feeling that Novak is more nervous, tense, on the court than he was last year? Do you share this?
RAFAEL NADAL: I’m not one to talk about if he is more nervous or if he is not. I really don’t know. I really have no opinion on that. Three finals of Grand Slams and another semifinals, a tough match, seems like he is not very nervous (smiling).
Q. You said earlier that you were being very blunt in saying I’d rather face somebody you have an easier chance against. When you are able to prevail over Novak to beat him, afterwards, is that victory one you savor more than one over another opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: No doubt that when you win a big match, the feeling is great. Novak is a great opponent. There is another ones there, but is true we already play a lot of important matches for our career, so that makes that confrontation special. And when you have the chance to win against the most difficult players, is true that the victory is more special. But not in a final of the US Open. The final of the US Open, what really is important is win the tournament, not the opponent.
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