Rafael Nadal CNN Interview: The King of Clay is Back [Video]

by Tom Gainey | May 19th, 2010, 12:08 am

It’s a few days old, but here’s a good feature profile CNN recently did on the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal.

Nadal tells interviewer Pedro Pinto that the time off last summer was difficult for him after losing to Robin Soderling in the French Open fourth round last year.

“It was difficult moment for me. Sure, after losing Roland Garros,” said Nadal of his shock loss to the Swede. “It was more difficult but at the same time I have little bit of personal problems at home, I have problems in the knees so too much things.”

He talked about his break after the loss. “Difficult month for me that month and a half or two months without playing tennis was not easy. The same time was in the summer in Mallorca and being in Mallorca in the summer is not the bad news.”

Roger Federer is also in the feature, and he talks about the shock when he returned to his hotel to watch the end of Nadal’s loss. “I was like, ‘oh my God I cannot believe Rafa lost a match at the French Open.’”

Also interviewed are David Ferrer, French Open champions Alberto Costa and Sergi Bruguera, and finalist Alex Corretja who traces the rise of Spanish clay dominance to Sergi Bruguera and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Bruguera confidently predicts that Nadal wins the French Open this year “easy”.

Who’s to argue?

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18 Comments for Rafael Nadal CNN Interview: The King of Clay is Back [Video]

Miss Sydney Says:


And I agree with Bruguera – Rafa will win the French Open EASY!

Pete Says:

What got into Sergi? To say Rafa will win easily is putting unneeded pressure on the kid.

Andrew Miller Says:

Ha! Rafa’s definitely playing “Rafa tennis”. He also seems tough and ready to rumble.

Threats in the dirt? David Ferrer for one – he definitely seems to want to do something. Probably, outside of the rochus brothers, Ferrer is the best player per pound in the ATP (among the players that arent towering over others), Ferrer and Davydenko.

No one likes playing Ferrer.

Skorocel Says:

Pete: “What got into Sergi? To say Rafa will win easily is putting unneeded pressure on the kid.”

Pressure or not, it doesn’t matter. Nadal DOESN’T know any pressure…

Peka Says:

Ferrer, ha ha ha… Almagro, ha ha ha…

Of all the “dirt ballers”, only Federer managed to beat Rafa in any clay tournament final (Hamburg, Madrid).

This year Rafa is the man to bet on to win RG for sure.

Elwin Says:


In his book “Winning Ugly,” former tennis pro and coach Brad Gilbert describes what is essentially psychological warfare on the tennis court. Is that the way you see it too?

I always have to smile to myself a little when I see what people read into some of the things I’ve said. For example, in an interview after my win in Australia, John McEnroe said that I had used all my experience of psychological warfare by stating before the final that Murray was under a lot more pressure than me because I had already won everything. I then apparently also exploited Murray’s injured foot to the maximum. Of course, that’s absolute nonsense, especially as the supposed foot injury turned out to be no problem at all. I don’t see that sort of thing as psychological warfare, I just say what I think. The fact that Murray, with no Grand Slam wins, would need the win in a final more than me and therefore be under more pressure is just the way it is.

Tennis-X could try to remember this, they often zoom in on Fed’s words way too much, but yea, that’s why it’s Tennis-X :-)

Mayra Says:

The King of Clay is back he definantly showed that by beating Federer at the Madrid Open.

Vamos Rafa!!!

Ela Says:

I think Federer is a media-attention-craving junky and that is why I do not like him as a person. His tennis is good but his personality suks. I think he just got spoiled by too much media attention. His comment at the end of Madrid final made me think “you idiot”. Despite Rafa’s win he had to remind everybody that HE is still No 1 . It sounded like “do not pay attention to Rafa because he just won a few minors”. He was trying to steal attention just like he started crying during AO 2009 ceremony. LOL. What a jerk! I hope he does not make too far in FO.

Nicole Says:

I just love Rafa’s attitude. He has managed to stay humble and carries himself well. I think Federer probably is the GOAT but his arrogance is a turn off for me. I REALLY hope Rafa wins the FO, especially after such a tough several months last year both mentally and physically.

Good luck Rafa!!

I like tennis bullies Says:

WOW federer’s talking about somebody else instead of himself for a change .

Voicemale1 Says:

Lendl was asked to comment on Nadal before Monte Carlo. He said that after the injury, Nadal was a little bit slow moving to his right, surmising it was either his own fear of re-injuring the knee or his lack of match play when he made the SF’s at Indian Wells and Miami. Lendl said that he was Slicing the backhand a lot more than he remembered, and that was allowing guys to sneak inot the net, further saying they were unable to get to the net against Nadal when he could drive through his Topspin Backhand. So Lendl said unequivocally atthe start of the clay season this year with regard to Nadal: “…the question will be, if they come at him hard like at The French last year, can he defend with his Topspin Backhand? If he can, he will again be dominant.” As always is the case, a former great knows a lot more than anyone about what they see their heirs of greatness struggle, then overcome. Lendl had it right on the money.

Nadal’s movement throughout the clay season has been back to what it was before he struggled through his injury last year. Any Slice Backhand he hit this year was out of strategy to change up a rally rather than out of necessity because he was late getting to the ball. We all know the damage Nadal does with the Forehand. But when his Backhand is firing like it has been, these guys facing him at The French will suffer greatly. As Federer pointed out in 2008 during The French: playing Nadal there was tough because it’s like playing against TWO Forehands (given he’s naturally right handed), plus he hits Open Stance on both sides – making it tougher to get anything past him. Maybe Brugera knows what he’s seeing, just like Lendl did before the start of the season.

jane Says:

Good feature on Rafa. It’s great to see him back to his best on clay or any surface for that matter. Can’t wait until the French!

skeezerweezer Says:


Agreed. Just saw the piece myself. He has matured ( a little, ha ) in his language skills, and it’s nice to hear him speak from his own words, not someone else’s. That said, his comments were impressive, classy, and honest. Wish the best for him!



In explaining Lendl’s theory about Nadal slicing backhands you said “surmising it was either his own fear of re-injuring the knee or his lack of match play when he made the SF’s at Indian Wells and Miami.”

Then in the 2nd paragraph you said “Nadal’s movement throughout the clay season has been back to what it was before he struggled through his injury last year. Any Slice Backhand he hit this year was out of strategy to change up a rally rather than out of necessity because he was late getting to the ball.”

Am I correct that your analysis is saying that he was slicing more backhands during last year starting at the French and continuing all the way until MC this year? I would disagree if that is what you are saying.

Nadal was completely healthy for the AO this year and hitting a normal amount of topspin backhands until his right knee injury at the end of the 2nd set vs Murray. He was clearly hitting a lot of slices in the 3rd set after treatment.

His backhand was suspect at IW when he played Ferrer. He had a fair number of unforced errors when he tried to come over the ball and started doing a lot of slicing as the match went on. I’d have to go back and watch some of the other matches, but I don’t recall excessive slicing when he lost to Ljubicic or played against Tsonga and Roddick in Miami.

Voicemale1 Says:


My point is Nadal isn’t slicing this clay season out of necessity. It was a problem for him at IW and Miami – that’s what Lendl pointed out. He wasn’t sure if Nadal was trying to “protect” his knee by not running full bore on the hard courts to get his feet set to drive the backhand, or is the slowere movement was just because he lacked matches. That’s why Lendl said if Nadal can defend thsi clay season with his backhand rolling over it, he’d be dominant again. He was right.


I agree with Lendl’s observations of Nadal at IW and Miami to some degree as I stated above(match vs Ferrer), but Lendl’s observations are just referring to play at those 2 events. I don’t have the quote or sound bite so I am just going off your 1st paragraph where you say Lendl is only talking about IW and Miami. This makes sense because he injured his right knee at the end of the AO which is the plant leg on his open stance two handed backhand, where on the one handed slice backhand he usually steps across his body with the left leg(closed stance).

Where I have the issue is it looks like you are expanding Lendl’s analysis to include the entire period of time from the clay court season last year to the beginning of the clay court season this year. He was moving great in Doha and the AO and didn’t lose those matches because he had to slice out of necessity due to knee concerns. I remember Nadal spoke very confidently about his play vs Murray at the AO up until the injury.

Voicemale1 Says:


I didn’t extrapolate backward, to answer your question. Hernan Gumy coached Safin after Safin’s knee injury which knocked him out for a while. Gumy had watched previous matches to get an idea of how to work with him & asked Safin about something he noticed watching his matches: whether he was afraid to exert to the side of the injury out of fear of injuring it again. Safin in fact was, subconsciously. They had to get the fear of re-injury out of his head before they could move forward.

And his injury in Australia this year was in fact an injury: he tore a ligament in his knee. It wasn’t the condition of tendinitis. On clay Nadal knows the surface is far less likely to injure him; and since he spaced his schedule better the tendinitis is unlikely to reappear. He’s hitting as boldly as he used to do before he went on the shelf last year because he has no concerns that clay is going to do any damange to him. That’s why he hits his backhand with authority now.


Well then I think we are in agreement VM. Regardless of any past injury, moving onto the dirt will always give Nadal the opportunity to hit more topsin backhands because the ball slows down when it bounces and you can easily slide into the shot. As you said, this year the transition onto the dirt may have been more pronounced as he was being conservative(or one could say not being reckless) in his movement on the hardcourts which resulted in more slice backhands.

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