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An Interview With: Rafael Nadal (Round 2)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Q. How much kidding have your fellow players given you about the Tommy Hilfiger brand you're endorsing?

RAFAEL NADAL: I haven't talk much. Somebody told me few things, but that's it.

Q. It's gotten some attention.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. You like it? (Smiling.)

Q. How would you describe your level of play and whether you're satisfied so far?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think I serve well today. My serve was working well. I think I had the match under control at the beginning playing well. Then I played a bad game with the 5-3. Then the match became a little bit more crazy, no, some ups and downs.

Today I felt that I was practicing great before the match, and yesterday, too. I felt that during the match I didn't arrive to that high level that I was practicing before.

But it's true that he played really well. Even if he had break up in the second and in the third, I think, too, I had a lot of Love-30s, 15-30s, a lot of opportunities during the whole match to have I think a more comfortable victory.

So remain a little bit more to convert more opportunities.

Q. With these ups and downs during the match, do you find a specific reason why you can go through some ups and downs like this during a match?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I didn't have an up and down today. The other day, yes. Today I didn't have an up and down. I just played a bad game with the 5-3 in the first set and then I didn't play great, but I didn't play bad. I played a normal match.

But was not an up and down like the other day. I was a single level the whole time. For moments better, for moments little bit worse, but that's not up and downs crazy like I had sometimes this year, no? Not a bad place to be.

Q. He felt like you were trying to be a little more aggressive today than he's seen before. Is that something you're consciously trying to do now?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sure, no, he was trying to play very aggressive. When you play against a player that they are able to take all the risks with not much pressure, so then is a little bit more difficult to have the control of the point. Because if the opponent decides to hit every ball then is tougher, no?

But tennis is tougher if they playing well. Today he played well, I think, so that's it. Accept that. I fighted well. I fighted until the end.

I came back, even if I had lot of opportunities is the real thing is I was break down in both sets and I came back well to win both sets. That is an important improve for me, and I'm happy for that.

Q. You said you came back in the tiebreaker, too, the next two sets. How much does that boost your confidence?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, this season I lost lot of matches having amazing opportunities. I don't want to say every one now, but if you follow the sport - I believe you do - you know that I lost lot of matches this year that I shouldn't because I had lot of opportunities, no?

I was not that close to lose the match today, no? I was break down in some sets, but is important to come back and feel that mentally I am enough strong to play well when I had to play well.

Q. Now you have Fognini. The history of matches between you and him says that many times you have problems with him. You lost. Even on cement in Beijing you had problems. What don't you like in his game? What does he do very well that creates problems for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, he beat me twice this year. Before he didn't beat me. He played great in Beijing. Finally I won the match. He's a big, talented player. He's a tough opponent for everybody when he's playing well.

So for everybody is a tough opponent, not only for me.

Q. You've been very honest about some of your struggles on the court this year. Obviously people have asked, Why don't you bring in a new coach, extra coaching help? Lots of other top players have part-time coaches. Can you explain again why you don't want to bring in any kind of extra help to your team? What is the thinking?

RAFAEL NADAL: I talked enough about that, no? I always believed that when I am playing bad, when I am not winning, you don't have to find excuses outside or reasons outside. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, That's my fault. That's the real thing. It's not the fault of other people.

I had an amazing career with this team. I believe in my team. We are working a lot to find the right way. I think we are in the good way.

I don't know what's going on in the future, but the real thing is if I have to change something is myself, not the people around me. If I am able to change myself, to play again with confidence, to play again with less nerves that I played for a lot of moments this year, I am able to touch the ball the way that I am touching the ball this week of practice before the US Open, I will be again where I want to be.

So is not a question of coach. Is not a question of physiotherapist or physical trainer. Is a question of myself. I am really decided to work hard to find my way.

Q. The nerves, the uncertainty, do you now understand what the problem was? Are you still in the process of trying to understand?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I understand. I understand all the time what happened, no? When you are hitting a forehand and you don't have the tempo to hit the forehand. If you want to hit the forehand here and you hit the forehand here, or you want to hit the forehand here and you hit here, it's because you don't have the mentally relax. You are not enough relax in your mind to do what you used to do.

So if I have nerves, is not the problem of my coach. If I have nerves, is the problem of myself. If I am playing bad, is the same.

During the season I feel that that nerves goes down, so I think I am at the end of all these processes that I had. With the work, with the talks with my team, with the determination to improve something, I think I am at the end of that process.

If is not 100% result, is close to be forget that nerves. Still there, but much less than few months ago. And now remain to keep competing, play well, and be passionate. I believe things are going to arrive well.

Q. When you were in your prime winning championships, they loved that Rafa, that strength that you gave. Do you understand why they're confused or worried about you?


Q. Do you understand why your fans are worried about you and pushing for you to come back?

RAFAEL NADAL: I am No. 8 in the world. I am not No. 100.

Q. I'm saying, they remember.

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. Seems like I am No. 200 in every press conference. I am not so bad. After I arrive here with the victory, I come back to the locker room saying how bad I am. Every day.

No, no, the fans, is normal that they are worried because I am worried, too. If I am not playing well, I am the first one who am worried.

You know, seems like I come here, and seems like if I am saying the true, if I am being honest, is bad. So then if I am being honest with you guys and I explain what happened to me, I explain if I playing with nerves or with anxious like I did in Miami and I say after in the press conference, then I don't know what you want of me.

And not telling about you. But in general, the people say, Why you say that? Why you are that honest? You give confidence to the opponent.

I believe what happens outside the court, what we are talking about here don't gonna affect zero percent in the next result.

The thing is you play well you have chances to won; you play bad, you gonna lose the sport is simple.

Q. I apologize. What I meant to say was I was out in the crowd. The crowd was pulling for you. I could feel that they want you to come back.

RAFAEL NADAL: I feel that love. I feel that energy. I always felt that energy when I'm playing in New York and a lot of places around the world, no?

I think I was always nice with the crowd around the world trying to do as much autographs, as much photos with them. I think on the tennis court normally I have been doing the right things during my career, not breaking the racquet no one time in my career, not saying stupid thing on court, celebrating the point, saying bad things when I am not playing well.

So the fans are happy with me. For me is the biggest satisfaction possible to feel the support of the crowd and the people, because that means a lot to me.

Q. What is it like, do you think, for you and for Roger, that with all you've accomplished - and you're still playing at such a high level - that the questions seem to be about what you're not doing as in, You haven't won a major in whatever length of time it is?

RAFAEL NADAL: That's part of the career. But, you know, don't forget that for everybody is a start and for everybody is an end. We still here, but tomorrow we not going to be here.

Sampras was here. He's not here anymore. Connors, McEnroe, everybody pass. The sport continues. We need to promote well our sport, promote well the new generations, too, to keep coming our sport in a very high position of the world of sports.

Q. When you're playing on Armstrong, especially in the first set today in the sun, is it more draining with the heat and sun on that court?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. Was okay, no? Is obvious that I prefer to play in the Arthur Ashe that I am little bit more used. The real thing is that the crowd in Armstrong was great this afternoon.

Was great feeling to feel the crowd that close to me. I enjoy that fact. Was a victory, so is a good memory.

Q. Stan said he was asked in Cincinnati if he were to give a mid-match interview on court. I wonder if someone asked you to and if you would accept to do it.

RAFAEL NADAL: Is not my feeling. I don't know, but my feeling is not the thing of one player is doing another thing another playing is not doing. I never heard about that before two days ago.

So the normal thing when one improvement or one new thing like this can happen, the good thing, in my opinion, is if we have a meeting together, the players, we accept, we don't accept. That's how normally we work in our organization, no?

Is about the most of the player, if they are open to do it or they are not open to do it. For me, I going to do it what the most of the players want.