Number Four

Written by: on 15th September 2010
Number Four  |

R. NADAL/N. Djokovic

6‑4, 5‑7, 6‑4, 6‑2

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Congratulations.  It’s a remarkable achievement what you did out there tonight and in such an impressive fashion with such great play.  Now you have the career Grand Slam.  Talk about what tonight means to you and this trophy means to you.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, well, just thank you very much, first thing.  Yeah, it was amazing feeling.  I think win against Novak is always very, very difficult, and the results say that lots of times, I lost against him.

So I think for the first time in my career I played a very, very good match in this tournament.  That’s my feeling, no?  I played my best match in the US Open at the most important moment, so I am very, very happy for that, for sure.

Q.  In the career Grand Slam, though…

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, I know, for you, very important, that.  (Laughter.)

You know, I still 24.  I have, I know, for me, it’s a dream have the career Grand Slam, but this is more dream have the US Open.  Is some moments unbelievable feeling because ‑‑ I worked a lot all my life, in all difficult moments to be here, but I never imagined have the four Grand Slams.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit how you’ve improved your hardcourt game?  Because obviously you started on clay and then you made a big adjustment for grass.  What have you done to become a champion on hardcourts?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I did, in 2009, I won in Australia, too.

Q.  But you’re better now.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Maybe, or maybe not.  I don’t know.  (Laughter.)

Is part of the moment and part of the situation, no?  And part of the confidence.  So always when you are playing well and when you are in the right moment with big confidence, seems like you improved a lot.  But, you know, there are moments when you are not playing that good, when you lose your confidence, you lose matches, and seems like you are not playing that good and you forgot to play tennis.  It’s not like this, and it is not like this I improved a lot since 2009.  I think I improved my tennis a little bit but is not a radical change, no?

Sure, to win in here in the US Open I think is the more difficult tournament for me to play, more difficult conditions to adapt, to adjust my game on this court, for the balls, for the court, for everything, no?

In Australia, anyway, if it’s hot, the ball, the bounce are higher.  And in Wimbledon, is true I have to adjust a lot my game to play in Wimbledon, but in my opinion, play in Wimbledon for me always wasn’t that bad, because one of the most important things on Wimbledon is the movements, and I think my movements are good to play well in that surface.

The surface help me, because my serve was not that good, that I have today, and with less serve I can do it the same, the same to the opponent as what I have today at this tournament especially and with this serve and with the US Open.

For that reason I think the hardcourt always was the most difficult surface to play good for me, especially with the serve because I have to play almost every point, and probably the serve make the big difference in this tournament.

Q.  I think you’re strong mentally keep point for completing Grand Slam.  How you keep your mental so strong, consistent?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t know.  I think my ‑‑ the practice is done a lot of years ago, so is not the moment now that I have.  I am strong now because I think practice everything ‑‑ you can practice everything.  I think the mentality, I practice it a lot, my mentality, a lot when I was a kid, so right now for me it is a little bit easier, I think.

Q.  What do you think you have to accomplish to convince yourself that you’re ahead of Roger, maybe the greatest ever?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Remain a lot of titles, so that’s no doubt about that, no?  I think I am more than happy that with my titles, for sure ‑‑ I think is talk about if I am better or worse than Roger is stupid, because the titles say he’s much better than me, so that’s the true at that moment.  I think will be the true all my life.

But, sure, for me, always, always Roger was an example, especially because he improved his tennis I think during all his career, and that’s a good thing that you can copy, no?

So I try to copy this, and I know Roger and me are different, much different styles.  Being better than Roger I don’t think so is the right moment to talk about that, because I am ‑‑ I don’t think that.

Q.  What do you think the future of your rivalry is with him?  How long do you think it will last?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t know.  Well, now Novak is, too, but he has to defend a lot of points now in the end of the season now, Novak, too.  He gonna have his chance to be win the year No. 2, Novak, too.  But Roger is there, too, to finish No. 2.

You know, we start every year, and a lot of new players and good players are there like ‑‑ well, not new, Novak and Andy are not new, Andy Murray, but always come new players, very good players.  But for the last six years, Roger and me was ‑‑ we were No. 1 and No. 2, no?  So that’s probably a great rivalry since that six years.  We will see what happens in the future.  I am not a genius.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about today’s rain delay, what you did during that time and what you told yourself about the match?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, well, the delay, it wasn’t in the right moment for me, but just go back to the locker room, have a shower, and have all the tapes another time.  That’s what I did.

Q.  What did you tell yourself about the match at that point?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Nothing special, no?  I think ‑‑ I thought before the match gonna be very difficult for me to win this match today, because the style of Novak is very difficult for me, because he play aggressive, he play very inside the court with very complete shots on the baseline, forehand and backhand, and difficult for me.

But I started the match feeling the ball great, and for me what I said to myself is I did another time, so I can do it another time.

So just be there, fight every point and try to play with high intensity all the time, so I know if I play with high intensely, put a lot of balls inside and play long.  Finally, I think he can be more tired than me, so if the match is long, I think I gonna have a little bit of advantage, and that’s what I thought before the match.

But if he starts to play like he did in Paris, is true indoor is different, my level is completely different now than what I did in the Masters 1000 in Paris last year, but when he’s playing at his best, he’s very difficult to stop.

Q.  I’m sorry we broke a tradition.  Normally when the winner of the Grand Slam comes in the media room, everybody claps.  We didn’t do it tonight.  (Applause.) Second thing, you’re ahead of Roger being 24 years old of three Slams.  I’d like to know, now that you lost only five times the serve in all tournament, only one set, what is your goal now?  Because you won already everything, Davis Cup, Olympic Games, all the four Slams.  Is the major goal to reach Roger or something else?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Is very, very ‑‑ is too far.  16 for me is too far for me to think about that, no?

Q.  So what else?

RAFAEL NADAL:  My goal is all the time and all my life was the same, is keep improving and feel myself better player next year than what I felt this year.  Being better player doesn’t mean you gonna win more than you did, because win or lose sometimes is part of the moment and part of the confidence.

But my goal remains for me that the Masters Cup is the big, yeah, probably the last big tournament that I didn’t win.  That’s true is the most difficult title for me to win, because we play it in indoor, and when indoor, indoor very quick surface, so gonna be always very difficult if we don’t change that.

But at the same time is a challenge for me to keep improving to have the chance to play well there and to have the chance to win.  So that’s what I gonna try this year.  For me right now the next goal is try to finish the season much better than what I did in other years.

The last part of the season always was difficult for me.  Well, today it started to be less difficult, that’s true.  But, yeah, I want to finish the season if it’s possible with a good feeling.

Q.  I spoke to Mats Wilander, and he said that you are the most improved player this year.  You’ve won 21 matches and only dropped 2 sets.  He says you’re one hell of a special athlete.  What could you do to improve since you’ve done so much with all these titles?  How do you think you can improve?

RAFAEL NADAL:  For me the most important thing is try to keep serving like I did during this tournament.  I think that’s ‑‑ if I can do it, this most of the times gonna be a big change for me and my tennis career, because if I have that free points that I had during all this tournament gonna be different for me.  I can play more aggressive.  I can play with more calm when I am returning.

So can change a lot.  So that’s, for me, the first very important part to keep improving.  After that, I can improve everything:  volley, keep improving the volley, keep improving the position on court, being more inside the court.

I improved a lot since last year, but never is enough.  I am not a perfect player, so everybody can improve.

Q.  Did you expect such good play from Novak in the second set?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I expect everything from Novak because he’s the No. 2 of the world, and his level is very, very high.  I’m sure he gonna win this tournament very soon, no?  Because his level is unbelievable, and I think he has the right game to win here and to win in almost every place, no, or in every place.

So I wish him the best of luck, because he’s a great athlete, but at the same time is a great, great person.  When he lose, is not easy to do it what he do all the time when he lose matches.  That’s very positive for the sport and great example for everybody.

Q.  You’ve achieved so much over these brief years starting maybe with the clay court streak and then winning in so many different circumstances.

In the big picture, we sort of debate what are your greatest strengths.  What do you think your greatest strengths are as a champion?  Is it strokes or focus, willingness to make changes, attitude?  What do you think are your two or three greatest strengths?

RAFAEL NADAL:  What’s my best thing?

I think the mentality, attitude on court I think always was good for me.  I am positive on court, and I fight all the time.  But not the only thing.  Positive attitude is not only fight on court.

I think I was able to listen all the time to the coach and to have adjustments and to be ready to change things to be better and to improve.  So probably that’s was the best thing for me.

If we talk about the game, for sure for me I think the best thing that I have is my intensity on court, no?  When I am playing well, the intensity always is high.  The rhythm is high.  Sometimes yes but not always I have easy winners or with one‑shot winner, but I can have winners after three, four shots having a great rhythm all the time, no?

So the focus on court I think was ‑‑ that’s similar, no, the rhythm and focus.  I can, I think, play at the same rhythm and the same level long time.  So that’s what I think my best thing is.

Q.  He did a great job fighting off breakpoints.  Did this make you nervous, or what did you think when he actually converted with so many great shots?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, on the statistics of the ATP I was No. 1 on breakpoints converted, so I think after this tournament I don’t want to be No. 1 on breakpoints converted.

Sure, because the second set I had big chance to go for the second break and decide the set before.  I had to serve for the set with 5‑4, and that’s always dangerous.  That’s when I didn’t convert any chance of the ‑‑ to do the second break.

For sure was a little bit nervous for me, because especially on the 5‑4 I have 15‑30.  So that was a very important moment, and at that moment I did something that I never did:  three serves, one ace and two service winners.  So that’s the big experience for me, and believe me, that’s good.

Q.  Can you describe how much things have changed for you in the past 12, 15 months, whether you’re surprised at how fast things have changed?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, the life change sometimes, no?  Ten months ago seems like I never gonna be another time the same.  Now seems I gonna be one of the greatest, so I don’t think that’s not that bad in that moment and not that good in this moment.  So always is in the middle, I think, no?

Last year I had a difficult year.  Well, I had a great year because when you win a Grand Slam and three Masters 1000 you have a great year, but is true the second half of the year was very difficult for me, have some personal problems, home, and after, I have a lot of injuries, here the abdominal, before, the knees.

So, yeah, wasn’t an easy year.  But is, at the same time, for sure, is not good have these moments but live these moments but at the same time, yes, because after that, when you come back, you are ready to (through translation) value how difficult is win titles and how difficult is be there all the time, no?

When I came back and I started to win in Monte‑Carlo, you know, the emotion is completely different.  So when you are winning and winning for a moments, you forgot how difficult this is do, is do it, no, is win tournaments no?  So I didn’t win a tournament for 11 months.  I played for six months very bad.

So after that, I think I was ready to come back in January of this year.  I started the season playing really well, but the titles didn’t came since ‑‑ I started in Monte‑Carlo, so was four months of playing well but hard moments, too.  I was ready to win but without a victory.  So I think I was ‑‑ I had great mentality at that moment.

Q.  This is not a criticism, but what took you so long to get in here after you left the court?  Were you celebrating with your family?  Taking a shower?  What were you doing that took you so long to get in here?


Q.  To come over here.  What took you so long?  It’s not a criticism.  But what were you doing?


Q.  Yeah.

RAFAEL NADAL:  I had the control antidoping, and saying hello, all the US Open staff and say thanks, everybody, for the organization, for the facilities that they give me, they give to me.  After that, I was with the authorities, they came, thank you very much.  Infanta, she came.  Cristina, sorry.  Cristina came.  And the president of the Spanish Federation and the family.  Just be out there for the family for a few minutes, and afterwards I was in the locker room organization, and having (through translation) ‑‑ planning?  No.  Organizing all the clothes.  I have show in the locker.

Q.  I know you don’t like to compare, all right?  You don’t like to compare this and that and that, but you had so many celebrations, so many great moments in your career, and I saw you last ‑‑ this summer celebrating like if you were crazy when Spain won the World Cup in soccer.  I’d like to know which is the emotion that really, you know, that causes you more joy in your life as being the most, the biggest that you never forget more than others?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Every feeling is different and at the same time is good, no?  Every victory is special, if we speak about my victories.  Some ones are more than other ones.  This one is very special for me, because is the last one remain.

So when Spain won the World Cup was amazing.  I was crying like ‑‑ like today, maybe, no?  But is different feelings, but at the same time every feeling is unbelievable.  But is very difficult to compare.  Football is unbelievable.  You know how big is football in Spain, or maybe you don’t know, but we deserved that title.  (Laughter.)

We deserved that title a few years ago.  Maybe you forgot.  You forgot about the World Cup of ’94 here?  (Laughter.) (Motioning with elbow .)

But we don’t forgot.  It was very emotional moment for us, for World Cup.

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