Rafael Nadal: I’m Not Far From My Best Level, It Was A Positive Week
by Tom Gainey | April 19th, 2015, 10:11 am

Despite suffering a one-sided loss yesterday to main rival Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal was upbeat in his post-match presser, saying that he feels after an injury-marred 2014 he’s close to returning back to his old self.

Nadal picked up his first Top 10 win since the French Open Friday beating David Ferrer, and showed some glimpses of his old self yesterday against Djokovic.

Nadal will now head to Barcelona where he is a 9-time champion, but lost last year in the quarterfinals to Nicolas Almagro.

After his semifinal loss, Nadal, who will move back to No. 4 in the rankings, met the press.

Q. It is a defeat, but is not a terrible defeat.
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I think I played well for moments. Remain to be played a little bit more. As I say yesterday, maybe I don’t know if was too early. I was able to play at the right level for moments to compete against very, very tough player, best player of the world like Novak is today.
But I get a little bit tired and little bit too early. Then when you get little bit tired, you play little bit shorter. Then is impossible against him, no?
If I’m able to play like the beginning for three hours, I can do it, then is a different story, no?
But in general, I think I was not that far. For moments I was playing at very high level. Him, I think he played great. Just congratulate him for the way that he’s playing, the way that he’s winning almost every match of the year.
For me is a very positive week ‑ the most positive week of the season, without any doubt. I think if I am able to keep doing that in the next tournament in Barcelona, that I have a tough draw, I will say that I am very well again.
The way that I played yesterday and for moments today is the way that I want to play. Just with more matches playing like this, I will be enough confident to play. That level will not be the exception, will be the normal thing. That is the thing that I need to make happen.
But in general, from where I came one week ago, two weeks ago, after what happened in Miami, I go to the next tournament with the feeling that I make a big improvement in my game, in my mental part.
I hope this tournament is a key moment for my season.

Q. Do you think the game at 3‑All in the first set was kind of a turning point because you started very well. This game was super long, amazing.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, that game was very important. Yes, is true. I had a breakpoint that he played unbelievable. That’s it.
Was 6‑3, 6‑3, but can’t be much closer. I know that. I think he knows that, too. Everybody knows that. 3‑All in the second, 40‑Love for me, too, for 4‑3, and let’s see.
But today was 6‑3, 6‑3. Just congratulate the opponent, congratulate Novak, accept. I know without a doubt if I’m able to keep going the same way that I was doing this week, I going to have my chances.

Q. Just looking at the numbers of this match, I notice that he played 12 winning forehands, and you just six.
RAFAEL NADAL: David or Novak?

Q. Yes, Novak. On the unforced errors with the forehand, you made 14 and he made nine. I want to know if you had the feeling that your forehand was today a little more problem than other times or not?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I was hitting great the forehand. I had some mistakes when I lost little bit the intensity of my legs. When I was the right intensity, when I was playing with the right intensity in my legs, I was able to control the point all the time.
But when I lose little bit that speed, that extra movement on my legs, he’s a fantastic player, no? He’s phenomenal the way that he can move the ball to everywhere. If he take advantage from inside the court, you are dead. That’s what happened, no?
I had more mistakes, yes. I had less winners than him, yes. But at the beginning of the match, I was having enough winners with my forehand. I was having enough times the control of the point. That’s the way that I need to play.
No, I think was more in terms of movements. The forehand, in particular, I am happy the way the forehand moves. I was able to play, again, with that high topspin, changing directions.
Remain little bit more, but definitely I think the forehand is close to be back.

Q. How do you explain the drop in intensity? The fact that you are not used to playing big games since the beginning of the season?
RAFAEL NADAL: Probably. And I play a very tough match yesterday. We cannot forget that I get injury last year for six months. So for six months I didn’t play no one match of intensity because when I came back I played three tournaments ‑ well two tournaments. Shanghai we cannot count. The rest of the tournaments is the first come back after four months. Is difficult to have a feeling on that.
Then Basel, having that appendicitis, probably is like I was not playing also. So six months without. I started the season without playing that kind of level matches. Only once for me. That was Indian Wells against Raonic. That is a different story, different style, different thing. But was a long match, high‑level match, only that one. Then yesterday, before yesterday, two more. That’s it. Today another one. Even if it was 6‑3, 6‑3, the level of intensity and the level of tennis has been high again.
That’s what I need. I am sure that if I am able to keep going, as I said before, in Barcelona, keep playing at that level, I will have a chance to be competitive again. If that happens, will be a big improvement for the season.

Q. Don’t you think that the change of racquet at this stage of the season affected your game at all?
RAFAEL NADAL: Positive or negative?

Q. I’m asking you.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I played the best tournament of the season this week, so I don’t believe. If I am having mistakes, it’s me, it’s not the racquet. I was having mistakes with the racquet that I was playing all my career the last couple of months.
The racquet is helping me. But the most important thing, what’s helping me really, is I am with the motivation, the right motivation, to play tennis, the right motivation to work hard every day, and with the right attitude. That’s why I was able to play better this week than the previous week.
I am working hard since I came back. But, you know, everything is a process. Arrives the moment that is a very important moment in my season, and I need to make that click that I need to be competitive again at 100%. This week was the first very positive news of my game after my comeback in the beginning of the season.
So the racquet, I don’t need to talk about the racquet. The racquet worked well. I was able to play at a very high level with that racquet.

Q. Compared to last year’s French Open final, do you think Novak has changed a little bit his way of playing on clay, or was it the same player you faced last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, I don’t know. I am not in condition to answer that. Let’s see how the things are improving during the whole clay court season.
Always when somebody wins against the others, and the opposite is always the same thing: the opponent changed something. Novak was able to beat me in 2013 here in the final, too. He beat me in Rome last year, too.
He’s a fantastic player. He can beat me all the time. But I am confident that if I am able to keep playing at that level for more matches, I will have my chances in the next couple of weeks. I going to try it.

Q. How much would you be surprised if tomorrow Berdych is going to beat Djokovic?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, one player is winning everything. That player lose, always going to be a surprise.

Q. But for you.
RAFAEL NADAL: I answered you. I don’t know how much. Oh, what a surprise! I don’t going to be like this (laughter).
But Berdych is a fantastic player. He’s playing very consistent. Almost in every tournament he is there fighting for the final rounds. But is obvious that Novak is the favorite.

Q. You said yourself in the beginning that Novak is winning pretty much every match at the moment. He’s won the only Grand Slam, all the Masters, on his way to another here. Is it possible for one player to win all the Masters and all the slams in one season?

Q. Do you think it’s possible in this season?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, always is possible. Difficult, but possible (smiling).

Q. Will you be 100% for Paris, 100% fit?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know what’s going to happen in three weeks, one month. I cannot predict the future. I am not that arrogant to say yes because tomorrow anything can happen in life. You have to respect all the things that can happen in this life to answer yes or no.
The right answer is that we’ll see. I will do all the things I can to be ready for Barcelona, then for Madrid, then for Rome, then for Paris, if I have the chance to do it. Every tournament is very important. We’ll see what’s going to happen.

You Might Like:
Rafael Nadal Calls Indian Wells A Positive Week
Rafael Nadal: I’m Feeling That I’m Getting Better And Better
Rafael Nadal Likes The Red Clay Courts In Madrid: They “Cannot Be Better”
Is Reaching Semifinals Now Success For Novak Djokovic?
Svitolina Closes on Top 10 After WTA Taiwan Open Title

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

27 Comments for Rafael Nadal: I’m Not Far From My Best Level, It Was A Positive Week

Humble Rafa Says:

Contrary to lies that some people are spreading, I was not injured. I just lost to a better opponent.

Gordon Says:

Rafa is such a trooper at these post match interviews. Good on him.

Anyone seen his draw in Barcelona? First up is Almagro, who beat Rafa at the tournament last year. Winner gets the winner of Fognini (beat Rafa in clay in Rio this year) and Verdasco (has beaten Rafa last 2 times he faces him, most recently in Miami this year).

Michael Says:

Very candid comments from Rafa as his usual self,very much humble and down to earth. He must not get disheartened by his loss to Novak and keep trying the way he has been doing to get into his groove. This time quite surprisingly Rafa is struggling on his come back and the lull is too long for his comfort. Nevertheless, you can write him off only at your peril. He is really too good.

FedExpress Says:

same story as always

novak loses 2nd set only to thrash the opponent in the final set

AO 15 6-0
IW 6-2
Miami 6-0
MC 6-1?!?!?!?

jalep Says:

Break back for Berdych

jalep Says:

Sorry wrong thread

Hippy Chick Says:

Michael sure Rafas playing crap ATM,and Novaks the man to beat and equals Roger on Masters,but whos to say Rafa wont win more Masters yet?….

Giles Says:

Rafa is NOT playi g cr@p at the moment. He is trying very hard to get his form back and is pleased with his progress. So HC . ..

Okiegal Says:

Great interview from Rafa……as always!

sienna Says:

what does it mean ‘not far from best form’?

For him to beat Djokovic there will have to be a significant rise in form. So claiming he is almost at peak level doesnot bode well.

courbon Says:

Nice interview. I like his honesty…

Hippy Chick Says:

Courbon in my Oasis of dissapointment,you are indeed a breath of fresh air ;)….

Bob Lewis Says:

Beating Nadal in Best of five on Phillipe Chatrier is definitely a different challenge altogether. In fact, it’s the ultimate one. Novak Nation knows that. But the win should be used as a confidence boost.

For Nadal, “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn that will keep his spirits up. Though he does know where he would like one of those meetings to be.

courbon Says:

Oasis of disapointments?You are having a tough day?Do this:Switch off computer, go to sofa and cuddle next to your hubby and watch some crap romantic comedy.That should apparently work ( told by numerous women ) (-:

Hippy Chick Says:

Courbon The French Connection with Gene Hackman,i dont do cheesy romantic comedies yuck,thanks for the advice though,niether does Mr Chick but the cuddle bit sounds nice cheers ;-)….

courbon Says:

Popey-one of the best film characters!If you like Gene, check his movie Heist-quite good.

danica Says:


I also like Rafa’s interviews. He is always honest and down to Earth, very realistic and has some special philosophy that I admire. He is one great guy.

” Was 6‑3, 6‑3, but can’t be much closer. I know that. I think he knows that, too. Everybody knows that.” With this he perfectly summed the margins between them. Although the result suggest an easy win, it was everything but. Nole had to work hard and earn this and it was tough.

I wish him luck and no injuries ever again.

danica Says:

before I get corrected :))) (although I am sure there will be something ;) )

Okiegal Says:

Here’s a little Barcelona Bull tidbit…..

2014 Kei
13 Rafa
12 Rafa
11 Rafa
10 Nando
09 Rafa
08 Rafa
07 Rafa
06 Rafa
05 Rafa…….But this ain’t no bull! When you see it like this, puts the numbers in perspective. This will be another thing that will go against my fav at Barcelona this year…..the dreaded LOA…..But win it or lose it, this stat takes my breath away! I know everyone is well aware of this amazing record…just a little friendly reminder. I’ll not do MC or FO…..check with WIKI. :)

peter Says:

Rafa is close to his best, he just ran into a djoKovic in his 2011 form. Remember djokovic in 2011 beat him 6 times in a row, and rafa was beating everybody else that year. Also rafa had a long match with ferrer the day before. The loss is expected based on above.

Expect more classics from these two in the next few weeks. Scorelines going to be closer.

Michael Says:

Alison @ 12.25 pm,

The only thing I am afraid will derail Rafa’s come back this time is his age and surprisingly he is still only 28. Rafa’s disability comes from the long years he had dominated this sport and the physical fatigue that he has accumulated all these years battling injuries. He is not young any more and gets tired very quickly just by playing a hard first set. I am not sure how can he withstand the rigours of five setter from here on ? But still Rafa can surprise us as he has done all through his career. Let us hope for the best.

Hippy Chick Says:

Michael sorry but im not feeling particulaly optomistic at this point,i enjoy tennis still but the outlook is looking bleak for me ATM,not all of us are feeling euphoric and doing cartwheels,to add the Rafa fans dont seem to want to post and get behind the guy anymore,and posters are now poking fun at his relationship with his girlfriend and thinking its funny….

Hippy Chick Says:

Okie nice stat thanks for that,also just read what you said on the other thread about the Oklahoma bombings i didnt know that very sad :((….

the DA Says:

I don’t get why some people find his statement about tiring so incredulous. As he stated he was out of action for nearly 6 months *and* had an operation. It takes some time to reacquire the peak level of fitness demanded by the game nowadays. And no amount of drills can compensate for match practice. Tennis waits for no player.

Andy said something similar after just 4 months away. He sensed that all the players had improved by a small percentage while he felt a step behind. His movement – probably his biggest strength – was clearly not as it used to be for most of the season. Similarly, Delpo took quite a while to compete at a peak level over just 3 sets.n

Unless you’re someone who goes on the court to play these extraordinary athletes on a regular basis, there’s no way you can have the insight to form a valid opinion on the matter. I certainly can’t – but I’m willing to take them at their word when they admit tiredness. my $0.02

django Says:

I like rafas interviews. He seems sincere when answering. Good character.

lyle nubbins Says:

Agree love Rafa’s character and outlook. Hats of to Nole, at his best he plays the greatest tennis I have ever witnessed. He is definitely the favorite for the French, which might not be so bad for Rafa in that it takes some pressure off.

Top story: Home Favorite Djokovic Leads New Belgrade Tournament; Berrettini, Karatsev In Draw