Friday, 29 June 2012

Did That Really Happen?

I have left it until today to write so as not to make any rash comments.

I was travelling to Wimbledon yesterday and could not get into the grounds at 19.30 to watch the match.  Instead we went off for some food and I kept an eye on the match via my phone.  We made it home in time to see Rafa broken in the 5th set.

I don't know how Rafa was playing during the first 4 sets but in the 5th he seemed lost.  All the kudos in the world to Lukas for playing some beautiful tennis and serving like a demon.  He really had nothing to lose and just went straight for the jugular.

So what now for Rafa?  I thought back to a few years ago, when he won the Aussie Open, as much as some seem to like him I don't really care for Toni.  I think Rafa could be a much better variety player if he had someone else on board. 

Like I said, I did not see the whole match but I can bet for a good part of it Rafa did not change his gameplan when it became evident that he was in for a rough ride.  I saw him try to S&V a bit in the 5th, you don't start to play aggressive and finish off points when you are knee deep in the shit, you stay before you get that far.

Anyway Toni talk is for another day.  Rafa needs to go and think, think hard about his career and what he wants from the remainder of it.  No doubt he is king on clay but that part of the season is short.  Still idea maybe but how about asking if he can play Hamburg on the clay, if anything just to get him back into a winning mindset?

So no Rafa for me at Wimbledon this year but I do have Novak and today I am on Centre Court so I will be shouting lots of "Ajde Nole".

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Rafa Not Happy At Olympic Set-up

It always makes me laugh when I see the words "Wimbledon fast grass".  It's not fast, certainly not in the way it should be.  Surface homogenisation gets worse with each passing tournament.  But Rafa ain't happy that, apart from the Gold Medal Match, all matches will be the best of 3 sets.

Is this fair? 

"That's makes the tournament a little bit more crazy. Everybody can win even more than on hard or clay, because playing best of three sets, the match can be decided in just a few points.

"So that's probably the negative thing. In every match, you are at the limit.

"I don't say it's a 'crazy idea'. But it is a little bit more difficult to predict what's going to happen."

Is that not want we want, unpredictable tennis?  Or should everything bow down to the top players?  I say no, the playing field should be level.  If players are as good as they are made out to be they should be able to find a way.

Full story is here

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Rafa's Round 1 Wrap-Up

Rafa's Presser:

Q.  What happened in the first few games of that match?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, happened that I had the breakpoint in the first game, so I think I played a good first game.  But he had a few chances at the first, and then two great serves in the advantage in the middle to the tee.

Then I played bad game with my serve.  Even I think I have game point for me, or few chances, but I had a few mistakes with my forehand.

And then he hit a fantastic returns in the 3‑0, so he played a great game.  I was lucky to be back, that’s the thing.  I feel lucky after 4‑0 to be able to win the set.

Q.  Thomaz said you don’t have any weakness in your game.  Is that what you think?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I think I have, but thank you for the words of Thomaz, no?

I think today I didn’t play my best match.  I think especially at the first set I played little bit too nervous, little bit not knowing exactly what to do.  My movements were a little bit in defensive way, not in aggressive way.
But I was able to keep winning the first set.  That’s the important thing and the good news.  Then I started to play better.  The second and third set I played better, even if I had a big mistake in the third with 2‑0, 30‑Love to probably close the set with 3‑0.

I felt in that moment I started to hit better the forehand.  That’s the most important thing for me.  And in the beginning I didn’t really had the best feeling with my forehand.

But then I started to feel a little bit better and I was able to hit a few forehands in a row with positive feeling, knowing that I don’t want to miss the ball.  That’s a very important thing, no?

I think the serve worked great almost all the match.  Just the beginning I start with not the best percentage, but I finished well, so I’m happy...... Read it all here

Match Report:


Photos (Daylife & Yahoo):

Monday, 25 June 2012

Novak Round 1 Reports & Photos

Daily Express Match Report here

ESPNStar Match Report here

Pictures from Daylife & Yahoo:

Novak's Round 1 Presser

Once again we tip our hat to FreedomTennis.

Today started a little iffy but then it was a solid match from Novak.  This year Pierre is here so Novak will be a happy chappie with his doggie.

Q.  One of the websites was saying you took a golf club out on court.  Can you clear that up?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It was a little joke we wanted to do with my sponsor, Head.  They provided me with a junior golf club.  They have, I don’t know if you noticed, but all the Head players, they have the bags which look like golf bags because you can place them the way the golf bag is standing, you know.

So it was a little funny thing.  Being creative, that’s all.  But fans corrected me right away.  They said, This is not a golf course.  I said, Okay.

Q.  Could you hear them?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I was talking to them, yes.  Just a couple of people.  It was really nice.

Q.  Were you tempted to go out in the warmup and see how you got on?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s too short for me.  We do play golf.  There are a lot of golf courses here.  Royal Wimbledon Golf Course is really nice.  We do get to play on off days.  Not really good at it, but enjoying the walk in the park.

Q.  Was it your idea?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It was kind of mutual.  Obviously they came up with the design of the bag.  So if I remember, I proposed to have a golf club just to fit into that creative idea of theirs.

Q.  Yesterday you spoke about what the Federer/Nadal rivalry has meant to you.  What are your thoughts on what playing against Rafa has brought out of you and what you make of your rivalry with him at this point?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it’s certain that we played a lot of matches and a lot of finals in last 15 months.  You know, since we are two top players, we meet mostly in the finals of the events, in Grand Slams.

For a change, it was great to win against him in some of those finals because, you know, I wasn’t managing to do that in last couple of years.  He always got a win against me whenever we played in Grand Slams.

I think the first Grand Slam win I had over Rafa was actually here in Wimbledon, if I’m not mistaken.

You know, when you’re playing your top rivals, you need to be focused on every ball.  It looks like you need to be on a top of your level in order to get the win.  So whatever surface it is, I mean, Rafa over the years, people were maybe talking maybe four or five years ago that he can only play on clay courts because of his style of game, producing a very hard topspin that does not really go with a grass court style.

He’s proved them wrong and he’s coming back and always improving, always wanting to be better on the court.  He won two Wimbledon titles; played a couple of finals.  There is not anymore I think advantages in favors, my favor, Rafa’s, Roger’s, whenever we are playing each other on any surface.  We’re all kind of equal in a way.  I think we have equal 50/50 chances to win.  I think that’s the case right now.

Q.  Just to follow up, what do you think Rafa has brought out of you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Like I said before, both Roger and Rafa made me a better player.  They made me understand what to do tactically, mentally, against them when I’m playing in the later stages of a Grand Slam.

Q.  What was it like to walk out on Centre Court, first match on Monday as the defending champion?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s a very unique feeling.  I think that’s the first time I experienced that in my career.  I think this is the only tournament that actually allows you to have information 12 months in advance when you’re playing.

It is great for a change, because in tennis we don’t really have that many cases that we know exactly when we’re playing.  Usually second or third after 11:00 or things like that.

So it was great.  You know, the grass was untouched.  It was so soft, so smooth.  It was great to play in.

Q.  Could you speak a little bit about the atmosphere of the Centre Court.  A lot of players used to say it’s very quiet.  Do you agree?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes.  It is quieter than maybe comparing to the other center courts of the other Grand Slams.

But you feel that tradition and the history of tennis, of sport, in this tournament, especially Centre Court.  So many legends have won the trophies here, the trophies that made them big tennis stars.

This is, in my opinion ‑ and many players’ opinion ‑ the most respected, the most well‑known tennis tournament in the world.

It is quieter.  It feels like a theater in a way.  But the crowd gets into it when they have reason for it.  I was participating in a couple of long matches on Centre Court with I think Olivier Rochus.  We played under the roof and went to the late hours.  That was really exciting.  The crowd loved it last year against Baghdatis.

The crowd here understands.  I think they have a great knowledge about tennis.

Q.  Do you remember your first game against Ferrero seven years ago on clay, and how much do you think your game has changed?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  To be honest, I had to look up the head‑to‑head score because I didn’t know how many times we played if we played.  I mean, first match we played 2005 I think in Umag where you lost in straight sets, and then I won against him two years after that in Madrid.  We haven’t played for five years.  That’s a long period.

You know, as I was saying before the match, he’s a former No. 1 of the world.  That says enough about his qualities.  Obviously he prefers more slower hard courts and clay courts, but he’s been playing here quarterfinals, if I’m not mistaken, a couple of years ago.

So he understands what he needs to do.  The grass is not like it used to be, you know, more suitable to maybe serve and volley players.  Now it’s more about baseline players, which made him more dangerous for me in this match.  The first two sets were exciting and close.  I was very satisfied with my performance.

Q.  Earlier in your career you went through a tough time where you had some injuries and people were critical.  Andy Murray is going through his back injuries.  Some are questioning what’s happening.  What are your thoughts about Andy and when an athlete has injuries and there’s skepticism about it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s hard to really make a judgment or say what is going on, you know, if you really don’t know an exact nature of the injury and to what degrees he’s hurt or not.  I mean, I know him for a long time.  I know he’s a great competitor.  He’s a great fighter.  I mean, he has a lot of pressure.  There’s no doubt.  A lot of expectation, especially here in Great Britain.  A lot of people want him to be a first British winner in many years here in Wimbledon.

I think he’s got three or four semifinals.  He’s always here.  He’s just missing that extra step.  Maybe that little bit of confidence and self‑belief on the important moments against the top players in the semifinals of Grand Slams.

But he has all the qualities to be there, you know, to be a Grand Slam winner.  There is no doubt.
And regarding the injuries, yes, I went through that period in my life where people were questioning my injuries.  But I never, ever been in doubt if I want to use my injury timeout to, you know, provoke my opponent or do something similar.

If I’m hurt, I’m hurt.  If something is wrong, then something is wrong.  I never asked for any medical timeouts or things like that if I have no reason.  So I believe that’s the situation with him.

Q.  How do you relax when you’re in Wimbledon, and is your girlfriend here at the moment?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, she is.  We have a little dog with us.  So we are staying at the house.  It’s a little fluffy toy poodle.  It’s four years old and cute as candy.

Q.  What is the dog’s name?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s Pierre, a French name, bought in Germany, and we consider him Serbian.  He has a little bit of everything.  Has three passports.

Q.  Is he gluten free?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  He definitely is.  He has to go along with his daddy.

Rafole Round-Up

Rafa is promoting online gambling with PokerStars.  Not too sure about this, gambling can be a very slippery slope if you don't know what you are doing.  Hopefully if people decide to have a look they use the "play money" tables instead of the real ones.

Both Rafa & Novak will be the flag bearers for their countries at the opening ceremony of London 2012. 

Both players spoke of their pride -


"For me the chance to carry the flag representing all the Spanish athletes in London is a true honor," Nadal said in a statement. "I think carrying the flag will be one of the most moving moments of my entire career.
"I can only say thanks and wish my fellow athletes the best of luck."


"We are all very excited about the Olympic games in London, such a magnificent sporting event, and it goes without saying what a great honour it is for me to carry the flag for Serbia," 

If you missed the Google+ "hangout" with Rafa there is a link to the video at TheTennisTimes

Uncle Toni speaks about Paris:

"I was very happy at the end because for us it was a very important tournament," said the man universally known as Uncle Toni. "We had lost three times against Djokovic in Grand Slam finals. Another defeat would have been terrible for us....The rest of the article is here

Sorry that is is mostly Rafa news.  I am sure we will be seeing more of Novak during Wimbledon :-)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Nadal & Djokovic Practice Photos From Wimbledon

Rafa & I At The Presser In Paris

Presser's From Halle - Audio

Novak's Pre Tournament Presser

And here is what the Defending Gentleman's Champion has to say ahead of tomorrows title defence.

Q. How would you describe your game on grass and what are maybe your weaknesses and your strengths on this surface?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, over the years, you know, I’ve been playing better on this surface. Obviously the grass courts are slower than they were maybe 15, 20 years ago. They are more suitable to the baseline players.

So it goes to the favor of my style of the game.

You know, especially in the second week where on the main courts you don’t see as much grass and the ball bounces a bit higher, and so it gets a bit slower.

But, yeah, I mean, as I said, it’s suitable to the baseline players. You can expect a long rallies. But still grass is the fastest surface we have in sport, so it takes time to adjust obviously from the long clay court season.

But I always try to be more aggressive, to get more to the net, try to play a shorter points.

Q. There’s been talk recently about the time between the French Open and the change of surfaces. Any comment you’d like to make about that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There have been talks. The bottom line is that we are all trying to work for the good of the sport. The players, the officials, tournaments, everybody who is involved in tennis, we all love this sport and all try to make it better for everybody.

We had this schedule forever, I think. I thought that there has been maybe a slight change over the years, but it has been always exactly the same with only two weeks between end of Roland Garros and start of Wimbledon.

My personal opinion, of course, is that this it is too short. We need an extra week, because it would work in the favor of players because it would give especially the top players a little bit more time to get used to the surface.

Logically speaking, it is the slowest surface that we’re talking about, clay, moving to the fastest one, which takes time. Over the years we all had to adjust.

So the schedule is as it is and we all accept it, but we will try to find the better solution and work for the better of the sport.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your first match? What do you expect from Ferrero, and if you would keep trying as he’s trying at his age?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, he was a former No. 1 of the world; idol of many generations back in Spain; he’s a Grand Slam winner; Davis Cup winner; somebody really that people appreciate. Everybody who follows tennis, especially us, the tennis players, we really respect him a lot.

As you said, after everything he has been through, he is still trying to go back to the top. He is always dangerous. If you look at him now, I think he’s playing equally well as he was playing four, five years ago. Now it’s just a matter of his fitness obviously and his confidence on the court.

He definitely has a lot of experience playing on the big stage, so I’m not underestimating him, that’s for sure. It’s going to be a good first‑round match.

Q. How would you describe the emotional and competitive meaning of the Olympics to you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, Olympic Games are pinnacle of all sports, in my opinion. I had this honor to be representing my country four years ago in Beijing. I won the bronze medal, so it was one of the best achievements and best feelings I had as a professional athlete.

Most of the tournaments that we play ‑ actually all the tournaments we play ‑ we play as an individual tennis players. There are very few competitions as Olympic Games where we can feel the team spirit, as in Davis Cup. But this is even more.

It makes you really proud of wearing your national colors, having athletes from your country coming to support you, going to the Olympic Village, of course the opening ceremony and everything.

It is very emotional because it is not just you who matters there, it’s the whole nation. So there is a huge excitement going on with all the tennis players prior to the Olympic Games.

Q. Last year you won here the first time on grass. How much does it change your attitude and self‑belief to know that you have done it on this surface entering this tournament?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it gives me a lot of confidence, that’s for sure. I’m playing with more self‑belief on this surface, which is the rarest surface we have now in sport. We don’t get much opportunity to play on grass, only couple weeks a year. But this actually the surface that our sport has been started to play on firstly over the years.

But I realized my dreams last year. I played a perfect tournament. I like the conditions here. I’ve been in several locations in semifinals, so I’m confident before the start of 2012.

Q. Andy Murray is coming for a bit of criticism for showing exactly how he’s feeling on the court. To what extent do you think about the image you project to your opponent? How much of an impact do you think it has on your opponent?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it’s very subjective. Every player has a different behavior, different character, different way of presenting himself on and off the court. This is, as I said, very subjective. I cannot judge anybody. I respect everybody’s decisions and freedoms to do whatever they want.

But, of course, on the court you always try to, in my opinion, hide whatever you’re feeling from your opponent. You don’t want to show your opponent that you’re struggling too much because you’re revealing your weaknesses, obviously.

Q. Rafael Nadal could very soon again take over the world No. 1 spot in the ranking. Does that make you worried or nervous or more determined? Is that an issue for you at all now?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s not an issue at all. I mean, I’m feeling great on the court, and that’s what matters the most for me. I’m focusing on my next tournament.

Rankings are following up all the results, the good success that you achieve as a player, I think. If you worry too much about calculations, you’re going to lose that necessary focus on the court.

That’s my mindset right now.

Q. It may be a silly question, but the ATP recent forbade blue clay. We’re on green grass; hopefully it never turns pink. What traditions should be kept and which ones can we redo?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There’s a lot of talks about the blue clay this year. It’s a very sensitive subject. The fact of the matter I think is that we had too many players complaining about it in Madrid.

As I said before, and I’ll say it again, I like innovations in sport. I like people who are creative and brave enough to, let’s say, think outside of the box and try to bring something new, something interesting.

But, of course, that only counts if you have the support of the players. Unfortunately, most of us players didn’t even try the blue clay, so we didn’t feel comfortable playing on it.

In one way I’m happy we’re going back to the red clay there. But look, you know, I’m always supporting the new ideas, as long as we are all aware of it, as long as we all understand what is going on.

But tradition is something that this sport was always nurturing, that we should always respect.

Q. You were so close to the Djoko slam. How did you turn the page?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I had to do it. It’s behind me now. Yes, I was so close, even though there was a slight disappointment after the match because I was aware of the chance that I had in Roland Garros.

But the day after I felt good about my tournament, about my achievement in Paris. It was the first time I ever have been in the finals of Roland Garros. That’s a step further from all these years that I’ve been playing in Paris. That’s something that made me satisfied.

You know, I’m still only 25, so I believe that I have a lot more years and a lot more chances to win Roland Garros.

Q. It seems from what you said earlier, if you could win one tournament this year it would be the Olympics. Is this kind of a dress rehearsal for that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t believe that Wimbledon can be rehearsal for anything (smiling). It’s most respected, most well‑known, most valuable tennis tournament in the world. This is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of our sport.

Of course, Olympic Games are something outside comparison with any other tournaments.

But it’s going to be interesting to see colors in Wimbledon, I believe, because we always go out on the court all white dressed. We’re going to have the opportunity to wear the national colors, so it’s going to be interesting to see that.

Yeah, I mean, knowing that I had great success in 2011 on Wimbledon grass, you know, actually gives me confidence before this year’s Wimbledon and Olympic Games.

Q. Watching the Federer/Nadal rivalry over the years, what did you take most from the way those guys played and the way they conducted themselves that may have influenced the way you’re dealing with your rivalry with Nadal and everything about your career today?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, their rivalry is one of the most respected rivalries in the history of our sport, if not the biggest rivalry. They’re two great champions, two tennis players that made the history of this sport. Every time you a see a Federer/Nadal match, everybody is excited. Even I’m excited to see it because it’s something that goes on for many years.

Of course, playing against both of them made me a better player. Just competing at this top level, I was going through a lot of emotions. I was going through the years of doubting if I can really win more Grand Slams, overcome the challenges of Nadal and Federer at the later stages of major events. I managed to do that.

As you said, they also made me work harder. They also made me a better player and made me understand what I need to do on the court and off the court as well.

The fantastic FreedomTennis once again coming up with the goods.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Rafa @ Wimbledon Sans Shirt


No More Blue In Madrid, Thank God!

Madrid will not be able to continue its experiment with blue clay next year after the ATP announced they were banning the change of colour for 2013.

The courts caused huge controversy at the Masters Series tournament in May, with clay court maestro Rafael Nadal and world No 1 Novak Djokovic particularly vociferous in their opposition.

The courts were criticised for being slippery and too different from the traditional red clay courts on which all other tournaments, including the French Open, are played.

Unhappy: Novak Djokovic slammed the blue courts in Madrid
Unhappy: Novak Djokovic slammed the blue courts in Madrid

The colour change was the brainchild of tournament owner Ion Tiriac, a former top 100 player, but he will now have to revert to red clay for next year's event.

ATP executive chairman and president Brad Drewett announced the decision at a meeting of the ATP board of directors in London, saying: 'After careful consideration, I have decided that blue clay courts will not be allowed next year.

'I very much believe in innovation and exploring ways to enhance our sport.

'While the blue clay may have offered better visibility on television, there were clearly issues with the quality of the courts in Madrid this year, which were not acceptable at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, one of our top events worldwide.

Gone: The blue courts will be replaced with the traditional red clay
Gone: The blue courts will be replaced with the traditional red clay

'Regardless of colour, we must first ensure that courts are safe and fair for players. I know that Ion Tiriac was also disappointed with the court quality in Madrid this year.

'Ion has been a great supporter of the game for many years and I continue to encourage his ideas, including the testing of blue clay at non-ATP World Tour events.

'At this time, however, it's clear that further development is required before it can be considered for use at the ATP World Tour level.'

Courtesy: Daily Mail

Team Rafole Is Back On Court

And soon enough so will Rafa & Novak.

Rafa has been talking to the press before Wimbledon starts on Monday.

Thanks again to the wonderful FreedomTennis:

RAFAEL NADAL June 11 2012

Pre Wimbledon Press Conference

Q. You had a very successful but tough Roland Garros, and then you went to Halle. How tough was it to recharge the batteries after that?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s something that is nothing new in my career. Since today is the same like another season, no? But what’s going to make little bit more difficult is later, no, when normally after here, if you have a very good tournament here, you have four weeks, four weeks and a half of rest.

Is not the case of this year because you have the Olympics. But since the day of today is something very similar to the rest of the years. I had the chance to be in Mallorca, to enjoy a little bit with the friends, with the family, and that’s what I did.

I am here another time.

Q. You mentioned the Olympics. What do they mean to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: The Olympics is the most important competition of the world of sport. So that’s the first thing. For everybody, all the sports, all the people who are involved of sport, competing in Olympics is something probably the most special thing that can happen, no?

The experience is great for me. I played two Olympics already. I have one record in Athens that I am the sportsman who spent less time in one Olympic Games, because the week before I played in Sopot. I won my first tournament. I arrived that Saturday night, I lost on Sunday, and I went home. I don’t remember a lot.

But in Beijing I was able to spend one week before, then all tournament there, all the competition. Enjoyed the experience in the Village with the rest of the friends, of the colleagues of the sports family. Was great, no? Was probably one of the greatest experiences I ever had in this world.

In my opinion is something that everybody from the popular sports, that we are very lucky to have a circuit like tennis or basketball football. I think is great if we are able to go to the real sport, because there there is a lot of sports that they don’t have the lucky that we have. You really experience what means really the sport, playing just for ‑ I don’t know how to say ‑ just play for the passion of the sport, for nothing else more.

In my opinion, that’s the real spirit of the sport. Is great for us that we have almost everything, go there, and enjoy that experience.

Q. Coming off winning your seventh French Open title, how confident of winning your third Wimbledon and how confident are you of beating Djokovic on grass?

RAFAEL NADAL: I’m very happy the way things went the last couple of months ‑ since the beginning of the season this year, in my opinion. Thinking about winning another title here in Wimbledon is arrogant and crazy. That’s something I cannot think about, no?

I can just think about the practice of tomorrow, to keep preparing my game, to arrive to Tuesday with the right conditions, being competitive to try to win the first match, no?

That’s the goal. I try my best in every practice. But sure, every hour on grass help me.

Q. You’ve been a part of two great rivalries with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Many matches against both. Many Grand Slam finals against them. Could you maybe compare them at all, whether fans enjoy watching you against Novak or Roger?

RAFAEL NADAL: That you have to ask the fans. I cannot answer this about the fans.

For me is little bit different situation, because when I arrived here on tour, especially when I started to play well, Roger always was there. With Novak, it’s little bit other way. I was there and then he came.

So is difficult for me to analyze which rivalry is more important, less important, more attractive, less attractive for everybody.

The only thing I can say, all the classic matches are because you played a lot of matches in very important circumstances between each other, no? That happens a lot of times with Roger, a lot of Grand Slam finals, a lot of Masters 1000s, competing for very important tournaments in our careers.

But with Novak we start to have all of this, too. Is great. For me I feel very lucky to be part of these two rivalries. I think is something that brings special motivation to the game, to the motivation to keep improving my tennis. Because if you are not able to improve your level of tennis you are dead, no, in this very competitive world of tennis.

That’s what I tried all my life. I think I really enjoy being part of these rivalries, no? I don’t gonna answer your question which one means more to me, because will see when at the end of our careers.

Q. What do you think of the specificities of the game on grass nowadays, and what do you think are your strengths and maybe weaknesses on this surface?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the important thing is play ‑ play with the surface, not play against the surface. That’s the first thing, no?

At the same time you cannot change something crazy your game, because you are good doing what you usually do. In the past, I don’t know the years, but in the past my best points on grass was that I played very regular with my serve. Probably not serving bombs, because I am not this kind of player. But playing very solid with high percentage, with enough speed, and then my movements and my decision to play on this surface was good the last couple years.

I enjoy playing here. Brings something different to me. Seriously, since the first time I came here, probably was in 2002 ‑‑ no, 2003 I played professional. 2002 or 2001 I played the juniors. I always loved this place. I always loved this surface.

My opinion is the game here is great to watch, especially if you don’t play against a big server (smiling).

Q. Outside you and Andy and Novak and Roger, who would you say are the most dangerous players? Berdych, Raonic, would they be the ones who are maybe most dangerous?

RAFAEL NADAL: For me is difficult to say. Depends. David Ferrer is playing a final today I think in Hertogenbosch.

Q. He won.

RAFAEL NADAL: So he won already. His level of tennis is higher and higher every year.

Berdych knows what is to play a final here.

Tsonga played semifinals last year.

But you have Raonic with this serve, without touch a ball from the baseline, you will be in trouble.

So there is always very competitive players. The real thing of this surface, you see the draw, and you never see an easy opponent.

I don’t say that in other surfaces you see easy opponents because you are playing against the best players of the world. You have the feeling, for example, you play on clay and your match is your in your hands. If you are playing your game you will have good chances to be through.

Here everything is a little bit more crazy, because sometimes you played two bad points in not the right moment and you lose a set. You don’t have real time to come back if you have a few mistakes in a row.

Q. You talked about the fascination of the Olympics. Are the Olympics more special for you this year because they are played in this historic tennis place?

RAFAEL NADAL: The Olympics are important for themself. Playing wherever are very important, no?

That’s true, that play in Wimbledon is gonna be little bit bigger because what means this place in the world of tennis is just the top. We gonna enjoy playing another time here.

But my opinion we can say can be more special to play in Wimbledon, but not more important.

Q. (Question regarding adding another week between Roland Garros and Wimbledon.)

RAFAEL NADAL: I always say is great to play more and more on clay and grass because those surfaces are historic in the world of tennis. In the past, most of the tournaments were on clay and grass. In my opinion for the body the worst surface to play or the most aggressive surface to play is the hard court.

In my opinion, I will never have nothing against to play more weeks on grass or clay, because I think is easier for the physical performance, for the injuries of the players.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Novak's Post Final Press Conference

Courtesy: Freedom Tennis

Q.  I guess of course you’re disappointed.  What maybe are you regretting the most about this final in two days?  How have you lived with this tension?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, this has been a strange final with delays and conditions and two days’ length of match.  I’m just happy to be in this position, you know, to be playing finals at Roland Garros.

I could easily have lost the match in fourth round or even more against Tsonga, but I managed to come to the finals for the first time in my career.  I should be happy about that, of course.  I will be and I am, but in this moment I am disappointed about this loss because I thought I started to play better in the third set and felt like I could take this match to a fifth set, and then, you know, everything could be possible, but, yeah, unfortunately there has been a rain delay yesterday when I started to feel really good on the court.

But look, you know, I don’t want to find an excuse in that, because the first rain delay maybe helped me a little bit; the second helped him.

So that’s the way it goes, and the better player won today.  So congratulations for that.

Q.  Just to take you back to last night, did you think that the conditions, when you went off, were any worse than the conditions when you actually resumed?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, they were really bad, the conditions yesterday, because it was raining for a while, but, you know, going back now, it’s really hard to say and to put a ‑‑ you know, there are decision‑makers, and there are people who know what is good for players and what is not good for players.

Of course we were all communicating in the locker rooms with the ITF and ATP officials and tournament organizers in order to come up with the best decision, and I was ready to continue on and play last night.  I thought around 8:00 the rain stopped, but they decided to stop because the weather conditions were not good and the court was not in a good condition.

So I was okay with that.  You know, I am not putting a blame on anybody.  No, no, look, you know, I’m not going back and saying, Okay, it’s your fault, your fault, because I lost.

It’s unfortunate, because I think I was playing better and I was feeling really well on the court.  Today he started off really strong.  I started a bit slower.  It was a little bit unfortunate in that first game, and things turned around.

Q.  Regardless of the outcome, what could you say about the quality of tennis you played the last two days?  Is it probably some of the best you played this tournament?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Oh, for sure, you know.  First two sets I was serving really bad, and I think I allowed him to put a lot of pressure on my serves and made a lot of breaks.

After that, I started serving better and I was in the court, and, you know, I was playing really aggressive. 

Finally I felt, you know, great on the court.

You know, we almost played four hours.  I thought we played a fantastic match where people hopefully enjoyed yesterday and today, and I was even surprised with the number of people who attended this match today.  It was a working day, but it was still a full stadium.

It’s beautiful, you know.  These matches make you feel like all the work that you put into it is worth ‑‑ you know, you’re living for this moment to play finals of any Grand Slam, and sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.

I lost this time.  But I believe that there are still many years to come, and hopefully I can come back stronger.

Q.  You have been chasing the dream of the Novak Slam, and I know that you said that it’s been in your mind but not in the front of your mind all year.  Do you think that the disappointment that’s now gone for a little while will affect you now for the next few days?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Disappointment is there because I lost the match.  You know, I lost the finals.  Yes, there was obviously opportunity to make a history, as well.

But it was not a primary thought in my mind, so right now I am still under impression of the match, so I have now a week off.  Then I’m going to go to practice on grass before Wimbledon.

Q.  I have two questions.  First one is you played much better always in this tournament in like the second half of the match against Seppi, Tsonga and even the final.  So starting from zero today, how long did you make your warmup before, and was it a problem for you, the fact that the second half was that now the beginning of the match?  And the second question is do you think that you won the hearts of the French crowd with this final more than ever?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  As I understood the first question, you are questioning my warmup, if it’s good enough or…

Q.  You always play better…

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I understand what you’re saying.  You are saying that I’m not warming up well?

Q.  (Off microphone.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I warm up very long, trust me.  I’m warming up very long, and we are taking care of the routine that I have, so maybe it happened now, but usually I am always aware and ready for the start of the match, okay.

Maybe it happened that a couple of matches I started worse than I’ve played in the second part, but okay, you know, I cannot get into the details now.

But regarding the French crowd, I hope I did, you know.  I thought I had lots of support, and I’m very thankful for that.  You know, in these matches, when you’re playing top player, somebody that is recognized all over the world, you know, a true champion, Nadal and Federer and all these guys have so much fans and so much support, and to be able to have, when I play against them, this much support, is really something, you know.  I appreciate that.

Q.  I know it’s very early to look back on stuff, but it’s the only chance we’ve got to ask you.  How much of a factor going through this tournament was the four Grand Slams in a row, and did that affect you moving through the rounds?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It didn’t.  It really didn’t.  I mean, I was excited about this opportunity.  Nothing more than that, really.

Q.  Were you at all distracted by what appeared to be a noise from the crowd before that last serve?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  There was a lot of noises between the serves throughout the whole match, so I can’t really ‑‑ no, I wasn’t.

Q.  What can you say about Rafa?  Still you feel like the best clay‑court player in the history of tennis?  Do you recognize him like still is big, big rivalry between him and you in the coming years?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, he’s definitely best player in history, I mean, on this surface, and results are showing that he’s one of the best‑ever players that played this game.  I mean, he’s only 26 years old.

We are very young, and we played over 30 times against each other, and hopefully we can have many more battles in the next years.

Q.  This is obviously the fourth Grand Slam that you have played against him in the final.  Do you think it’s good for tennis that you two are so dominant at the biggest tournaments?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I think so.  I believe so.  I mean, obviously Federer and Nadal have still, I think, the biggest rivalry in the sport, I mean, because they have been at the top for so many years, they have been so dominant.  I mean, I just joined that rivalry, I think, you know, just recently, couple years ago.

You know, I think the sport is experiencing some really good times now.  We’re attracting a lot of attention to men’s tennis because we have, you know, these two great players, and Murray, myself, and we really have some great players, some charismatic players, a lot of personalities.  This is good for tennis.

Q.  This season on clay, Nadal was the most consistent player while you were less consistent than him.  Do you think the final reflected the season on clay?  If you could look back on the clay‑court season, is there anything you would change?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I don’t think I was not consistent enough.  I mean, I was less consistent than him, if you want to say that.  Yeah, I played three finals.  He has won three finals against me.  It’s tough to be more consistent than that, you know, on this surface.

Okay.  Last year I lost only one match on clay, French Open semifinals.  But look, you know, things happen for a reason, you know.  As I said, I could have lost in this tournament earlier.  I managed to get to the finals for the first time, so I wouldn’t change anything, you know.  I don’t like going back and saying, Okay, maybe this could have gone better.

Everything in life is a lesson, and that’s the way it goes.  I hope I can come out stronger and better from this experience.

Q.  How difficult is it to win eight games in a row against Nadal on clay?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Very difficult.  Very difficult.

Rafa's Post Final Press Conference Transcript

Q.  Two very small questions.  First, when you were sitting down, everybody was taking your photo.  You picked up the trophy, and you were looking at the names on the trophy, counting them.  Whose names were you looking at, yours or someone else’s?

RAFAEL NADAL:  No, I was looking at the winners.  No, no, no, no.  For me is very small, and I wasn’t counting.  I just go year by year.

Q.  Downstairs your Uncle Toni was telling us that he thinks that you are unlucky to be playing in this era of Djokovic, Federer, you.  Is that how you see it?  Do you think you’re unlucky to be in such a fabulous era for tennis?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I feel very lucky to achieve all what I achieved until today.  I have great rivals, but, you know, even if it’s good era of tennis, playing against fantastic players, no, I’m more than happy to enjoy matches like I had.  I enjoyed a lot the final of Australia, today.  I suffered, but I enjoyed.

A lot of important finals for me, a lot of important matches that I was able to enjoy against fantastic players like Novak, like Federer, like Andy.

For me, you can feel unlucky or lucky, both.

Q.  Congratulations, Rafa.  You had a hard two‑part final.  Since last night, how did you prepare technically, physically, morally?  Analyze the situation where you lost eight games in a row on clay, which is very unusual.  How did you handle it this morning?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, the conditions were really unusual, too.  No, the ball was heavier than ever.  At the end, the bounces start to be bad last half an hour of match yesterday.

In my opinion, the conditions were much more favorable for Novak than for me.  At the same time, I am playing against the best of the world, the best of the world with good conditions probably for him.  He played, in my opinion, fantastic that eight games in a row.

He didn’t have mistakes.  He return fantastically well, and he did probably everything very well in that part of the match.

That’s true that I lost meters behind the baseline.  I really felt that I wasn’t able to push him back like I did, especially at the beginning of the match and then for moments.

He was able to push me back almost all the time.  I felt that I was in a completely, you know, negative positions almost every time on that period of match.

So, for me, the last game was very important after eight games in a row, losing the last one and before the stop.  That game that put the 2‑1 on the score was very, very important.

Q.  Congratulations.  Were you happy that the match was stopped last night?  Was it easy for you to sleep last night?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Seriously, I was very nervous during all the night.  I was a little bit anxious to play what remain of the match.  But even if was clearly good thing for me, I stop the match yesterday, because with that conditions, well, seriously, the last couple of games, the conditions of the court was not the right ones to play a final of a Grand Slam, you know.  We had to stop.

Anyway, I felt that was a positive stop for me.  I really felt that the stop against David Ferrer in the semifinals with set and 4‑1 was not positive for me.  At the end was positive for me.  And the stop before that we come back to the court that with 6‑4, 5‑3, I felt that was not positive for me, too, neither.

That’s true.  The last stop was important for me, especially because the conditions of play was not the normal ones in this court.

Q.  Congratulations.  You’ve won this title seven times.  Can you talk about that?  Novak said you’re definitely the best male player to ever play on this surface.  Can you address that?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, thanks for the words, what Novak said.

I don’t know if I am the best or not.  I really ‑‑ I am not the right one to say that.  The only thing is I have probably one of the best results ever probably in this kind of surfaces, and for me is great.

For me is a real emotional day, win another time here.  Sure, the seventh is important because I am the player who has more today, but like I said yesterday:  that’s after.  For me, the important thing is win Roland Garros even if it’s the first, second, third, or seventh, no?  That’s what makes me very happy, very happy the way that I played today, because I played much more aggressive.

In my opinion, I started very well yesterday the first three games, played fantastic levels.  But later, after that, I felt that I didn’t play fantastic yesterday after that first games, no?

I felt that today this set I played better than yesterday.  My serve especially worked very well, and my forehand, my movements, were more aggressive.

Q.  You say that you enjoy winning every title, but the emotions, when you went up to be with your family in the player’s box, they seemed very strong this time, maybe even stronger than normal.  Was it not that way?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, was that way, sure.  Was important victory for me.  I really spend a really hard day since yesterday.  You know, I am playing this match since Friday afternoon, so is a long time preparing the match.  Yesterday with all the stops and today, I really felt tired and nervous before the match.

My feeling was I wasn’t ready for the match one hour ago, two hours ago, two hours before the match, and I felt ready to go on court three minutes before.  That’s the first moment since we stop the match yesterday ‑‑ the first moment that I really felt that I am here to play and I feel confident to try was three minutes before go on court, because for the rest of the time I was a little bit too nervous, more nervous than usual probably for the situation.

Q.  Djokovic lost with you making a double fault on match point in Rome.  Then double fault on break point at 3‑All.

RAFAEL NADAL:  In three of them.

Q.  Three of them.  And then one in first game of the second set and match point today.  Do you think something change in his attitude that last year when he was invincible it would never have happened, or do you face him like he’s a little bit more tense than he was, for instance, last year or not?  Do you have a feeling that he’s changed or not?

RAFAEL NADAL:  The things are like this, you know.  You cannot expect to save all the moments fantastic well.  You cannot expect to be in every tournament playing at your best and saving the important moments with fantastic shots.

Seriously, if I say something wrong about Novak probably gonna be a big mistake, because don’t forget that he won in Australia, he won in Miami, played semifinals in Indian Wells losing 7‑6 in the third, playing final in Monte‑Carlo and final in Rome and final here.

So his season has been great, and the double faults, that’s only coincidence, in my opinion.  Don’t forget that last year he saved unbelievable match in the semifinals of US Open.  This year he saved two unbelievable matches at semifinals of Australian Open and final of Australian Open.

In this tournament he saved two sets down against Seppi.  He saved four match points against Tsonga.  You cannot expect save all the time like this, playing great like he did in the match points against Tsonga.

He’s doing fantastic, but is impossible for anyone play every time perfect.

Q.  Last year this time you won here, and then you didn’t win another title.  Do you think your level is higher now than it was a year ago, and will you be able to carry it over to other surfaces especially with success this time against Novak?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I won four titles already this year in my favorite court.  That’s clay.  I don’t have that chance to play in my favorite court the rest of the season.  That’s the thing.  No, no, no.  That’s the calendar.  The calendar says we only have this period of time on clay, and I don’t have more chances to play on clay.
Don’t forget that I play the last five Grand Slam finals in a row.  That’s not a victory, that’s not a title, but that’s fantastic results.

I don’t remember last year, but after here I played ‑‑ I played very bad in probably Montreal/Cincinnati.  Yes, I played a great US Open, and I played probably bad in Shanghai and in the end of the season in the World Tour Finals, but in the Davis Cup final I played great another time.

You have to find your moments, like I said.  With Novak I say the same to me.  Is not possible to be perfect every time, be 100% in every tournament.  And I gonna try to keep having chances to win, produce chances to win.  I produced a lot of chances to win last year, but I lost almost every one.

Hopefully I will keep playing well, and I will keep having chances to win and try to win.

Q.  I’m from Germany, and the German fans are a bit worried you might not go to Halle now.  Can you say if you decided yet?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, I decided few months ago that tomorrow I will be there, and I will be practicing tomorrow afternoon there.  We play doubles on Wednesday and singles on Thursday if no one injury comes this night.  (Laughter.)

Q.        At the age you were last week, Bjørn Borg decided he didn’t want to play tennis anymore.  The way you feel right now, how many years do you think we have left of you?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I really don’t know how many more years I will be here playing.  Is impossible to predict the future, no?  I will be here until my physical respect me, until the injuries, you know, respect my chances to keep playing and until my mind stays with motivation, with passion for what I am doing.  Hopefully for a long time.  I don’t know.

That’s what I will try, and that’s my goal.  I work hard every day.  I wake up every day with enough motivation to go to practice and to keep improving.

When that change more days than usual, probably will be the time to say, Good‑bye, Guys, and see you in a lot of things.

That’s not the case today, I hope (laughter.)

Q.        You’re always very humble, but if I could ask you to brag a little bit, what would you point to as an explanation for why you have been so successful on clay, and particularly on here, so much better than everyone else?

RAFAEL NADAL:  In my opinion, not particularly here.  On clay, in general, yes, because I didn’t win more titles here than in Monte‑Carlo or Barcelona, won more than Rome, yes.

But in general, all the tournaments that I played on clay I had a good success the last eight years.  I don’t know.  I think I worked hard all my life.  I think my game naturally adapts very well to this surface.  My movements are probably the right ones to play here, and my natural shot probably is the right one to play on clay, the normal conditions, no?

So then probably my mental part probably on clay is one of the most important things, especially on clay, more than in the rest of the surfaces, because you have to run, you have to suffer sometimes, you have to play with more tactics, because you have more time to think, to do things.

Probably the reason is because I always was scared to lose.  That’s why I go on court every day against other opponent with the full respect, knowing that you can lose and you can win.

Then I think I was very focused for the last eight years, because winning as much as I did in this surface the last eight years is not because I played great every time.  Is impossible to play great every time.  Because when I played so‑so, I was there mentally.  The mental part was there 100%, so probably that’s why the reason.

THE MODERATOR:  Spanish questions, please.

Q.  Congratulations, Rafa.  So apart from this magic number, seven, after all these years when you were fighting hard, you managed to get the support from the crowd.  Did you learn French?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I spent quite a lot of time in France, and I understand French very well when people speak it slowly.  And don’t forget that the French language is very close to Catalan language, so this is probably the reason why I tried.

Maybe I made a lot of mistakes, but I tried and people understood me, I think.  And the most important is that the crowd was great.  They supported me.  I want to thank the crowd, because it’s a fantastic feeling. 

The crowd was really supporting me, and that’s also why I want to make efforts and speak French.

Q.  I’d like to know if you think that this final today was the most difficult final in the seven you played here because you were playing against No. 1, because the conditions were appalling, and because the match was stopped.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I had already played against the No. 1 on quite a few occasions, and Federer was No. 1 for several years.  So this is not the reason.

It was very difficult because ‑‑ well, I think we need to analyze this match a bit more and analyze all the others, but this was a very complex final except for the last two sets.

I had lost three Grand Slam finals in a row to him.  That’s why it was important for me to win, and this is why I was a bit more nervous and there was a lot of emotions.

But the result was important for me, just as important as my final against Federer in 2006 or against Puerta.  But when I played Puerta, I had three set points, which was not the case here.

In 2010 it was difficult, but I didn’t suffer too much.  I was quite focused.  Last year was a difficult match with a lot of emotion.  I had had a few losses before.  Actually, this year I had won three finals on clay before, which gave me a lot of self‑confidence.

Of course I have great respect for the No. 1 on the other side of the court, but as I say, these are great moments, and in an athlete’s career, you need and remember those moments.

I feel better than last year.  Things change.  We all have ups and downs, but at the end of the day we were very close during that final.

Q.  As compared to the previous years, what is the salient point from this final?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, from a tennis standpoint, be realistic.  In 2010 I had won the final without losing any set, as in 2008.

This year I played better than in 2010, and this year, all along the tournament, if you take everything into consideration, I qualified for the final without losing any set.  I just had a tiebreaker against Almagro.
As for the rest, I had won quite easily to David, Monaco, Almagro, and when you play that well, means that you’re in great shape.  That’s a fact.

Then, for the final, I was obviously a bit more nervous than usual.  I started playing very well in the beginning, 3‑Love, 30‑Love.  I made a mistake.  Then the set became more complicated.  Then my game was no longer as clean as it used to be.  I made a few mistakes.

I think the three first games yesterday were my best level, and today when we resumed, I was slightly more aggressive with my forehand and I moved well on the court.  I was more aggressive.

I don’t like talking about the tournament.  I like to talk about the clay season.  But I can’t deny that this was probably my best season on clay.  I won three tournaments, and I managed to make it to the final of the fourth tournament before I lost my first set.

So Rome, Monte‑Carlo.  You all know it’s not easy to achieve such result without losing one set.

So of course I’m very happy.

Q.  I wanted to ask you a question.  This awards ceremony in Paris is quite special with the National Anthem being played.  It’s quite special.  What do you feel?  You were probably feeling great emotions.  What came to your mind at that moment?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, as I said before, there was a lot of emotion.  There is always in such moments.  You don’t know if you will ever win another victory.  You don’t know if this year is going to be the last one.
I achieved it this year, but as time goes by, you give more value to those very precious moments.  When you play at a very high level with such beautiful seasons ‑‑ look at what happened last year, for instance.  I lost three Grand Slam finals in a row.  And you realize that you’re about to win, as in the US Open, and I felt I could win the match and I didn’t.

In Australia I was pleased with the tennis I played, yet I was a bit disappointed, as well, because I had the opportunity of winning.  I have four opportunities in a year, and you can’t expect to play your best tennis all the time.  And to win a Grand Slam, you have to play your best tennis.

There are very few opportunities, so you have to make the most.  If I had lost a fourth final, this would have been very difficult for me.  So I felt it really was worth it giving my best, given everything I have achieved since the beginning of the season or even since the beginning of my career.

When you lose, it’s because you don’t deserve the title.  So in my mind, this was the final I had to win.  This is why there was a lot of emotion.

Q.  I remember during the US Open when you said, I know what I have to do.  Now that you’ve won all those titles here in Paris, what kind of feelings do you have, or will you start feeling something in a few hours’ time?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Of course I’m very happy.  I want to think my Uncle Toni, my family, my friends, all the people who supported me.  After the US Open when I said, I know what I have to do to win, of course I know.  Now the question is:  Am I capable of doing that?  There is theory and there is what you do.  So I just wanted to give a bit of context to that sentence.

In Australia I was not in a very good shape, mentally speaking.  I could have won, but for mental reasons, as I had lost, I was probably not in the best mental status.  Now I’m here, I made it, I did everything I could to win this match.  For me, it’s great emotion.

Maybe at the beginning of the year you start thinking, okay, what’s the tournament I really want to win and I want to start playing in a very good shape?  Well, for me, it’s this one.

I also know that my season is going to be good moving on, because I’m in great shape, but I’m very pragmatic, and I need to prepare for the others.

Q.  Did you sleep well last night or did you see the match in your head or did you watch the soccer team?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yes, I watched the soccer match in the locker room.  I didn’t see it when Italy scored a goal, but I didn’t want to watch my match nor read any articles or anything, so I looked at TV, the news a bit, and the football game.

Then I watched a series, and strangely enough, I had no movie to watch.  So I went to bed at midnight.  Then I looked at chapters of Sengoku and that was it, because I had no movies.  So I read a few chapters of my favorite comic book.  I read those three times, and I fell asleep.

Courtesy: Freedom Tennis

Rafa Has The Record

7up for Rafa now. 

Bad luck to Novak.

I have seen nothing of the match today as I was travelling from Paris to Halle.  I will hopefully be able to speak to Rafa at the Gerry Weber Open and ask him how he feels now he has broken Borg's long-standing record of Roland Garros titles.

Novak has chose not to play this week so he will no doubt be back home now.

I will once again be reporting for The Tennis Times so be sure to check out the site daily and sign up to my Twitter for updates.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Rafa's Pre Final Press Conference

New post on freedomtennis RAFAEL NADAL Pre-final press conference June 09 2012 by freedomtennis RAFAEL NADAL   Q.  There are a lot of talk about the weather tomorrow, that maybe it is going to rain all day, and the final could be moved to Monday.  Have you been said anything about it?  What do you think? RAFAEL NADAL:  What I can think?  What can I think?  If rains, rains, then we play Monday.  That's all.   Q.  Nobody told you anything already? RAFAEL NADAL:  I heard things, that there is chances to rain.  But I cannot think about that.  I have to think that I gonna play tomorrow and be focused for tomorrow.  Then if rains, wait, and if not, come for Monday.   Q.  Novak describes this as the ultimate challenge for him, the final tomorrow, because there is so much riding on it more than just the title, with all the records that are attached to it.  How do you see it? RAFAEL NADAL:  For him?  To win four in a row?   Q.  Yes. RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, it's good.  Is an opportunity for him.  He's the No. 1 of the world.  He is doing fantastic season.  We'll see tomorrow. Gonna be a difficult match ‑ for me; hopefully for him, too.  I will try my best, as every day.   Q.  The Melbourne final was the toughest, most brutal tennis match most of us had ever seen.  Do you foresee even greater physical endurance and strength being needed in this final? RAFAEL NADAL:  Before the final is difficult to imagine another match of six hours.  Difficult to imagine a match like this. But I will be there fighting every ball.  We cannot predict what's going on.  The only thing that I have to predict that he is playing well, he is playing with confidence, and I have to play aggressive, I have to play my game. Try to keep playing the same way that I am playing.  We will see what is happening then during the match.  Try to find solutions if the things are going wrong.  But I don't know what can happen.   Q.  Do you feel more pressure this year because you can break Borg's record, or is it pressure as usual? RAFAEL NADAL:  I had the chance to break the Borg record because I won already six.  The pressure is the same every year.  I am here because I try my best every day and because I have a lot of motivation, the illusion to try to win the tournament, not because ‑ I said it almost every day ‑ not because it's the seventh, because it's Roland Garros.  It's one of my top tournaments of the year, if not the most important. So seriously, extra pressure for me for being the seventh is zero.  The pressure is the same because is another final of Roland Garros, and that's the most important thing for me. In the end, if finally happens, gonna be another thing that maybe is important, maybe not that much important like the people say.  For me, the important thing is Roland Garros.   Q.  Does your solid match from yesterday makes you maybe a bit more relaxed? RAFAEL NADAL:  You cannot be relaxed against the No. 1 player of the world.  The match of yesterday just give me confidence.  That's confirm that I am playing well.  I play well almost every day.  That's the most important thing for me, no? For sure, I will have my doubts for tomorrow.  For sure I have to respect the other opponent.  He beat me a lot of times. But I am here to fight every ball and to try my best in every moment.  We'll see.   Q.  Can you talk about what the rivalry with Novak means to you since last year and this year? RAFAEL NADAL:  No, tomorrow is another match.  You know, we played a lot of important matches throughout our careers, both of us against each other, so that makes the rivalry, no?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Novak's post semi final press conference

Many thanks to FreedomTennis

Q.  Was it a little difficult to keep your concentration at a level where you wanted today, considering the ebbs and flows of the match?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it’s always an effort and it’s always a challenge, you know, to be focused and play, take the maximum amount of your abilities out of these matches.

That is the ask, you know.  That is something that you need to do if you want to be a winner at the end of matches against one of your biggest rivals.

Q.  The Australian Open final, what recollections do you have of that amazing final now, and what do you draw from that?  And also wanted to ask you about the one shot which Rafa mentioned in his press conference, that easy backhand he missed in the final of the fifth set, if you have any recollections of that moment, if you know what I mean.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it’s definitely the most exciting match I ever had in my career, you know.  The longest for sure.  You know, considering the fact that it was a final, it was just incredible historic match to be part of.

Obviously we both wanted to win and win the trophy, and in the end it had to be only one winner.  But I thought we played an incredible match.  And, yes, he did have his chances.  Obviously that backhand that you mentioned, I think it was 3‑2 or 4‑2 up and 30‑15.

But that’s what happens at this level:  couple of points and couple of mistakes decide the winner.  It’s going to be quite different on Sunday because this is a different surface.  It’s different circumstances.

You know, he plays always his best here in Roland Garros, and so I expect to do that as well on Sunday.  I know that I have to be consistently playing consistently well on very high level in order to win best‑of‑five against Nadal here.

It’s an ultimate challenge.  But, you know, I believe that today was the best match of 2012 Roland Garros for me, so I’ve raised my game when I needed to.  I played really well when it was the most important, so that’s something that gives me confidence obviously before the finals.

Q.  In the previous rounds you came out of some very difficult situations in this Roland Garros, and today especially in the second set again you have had a very tough second set.  What happens in those moments?  Like it’s as if you’re becoming a master in crisis management.  What happens?  Your concentration is like getting to its peak?  What happens?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it’s up and down.  I think I would really want myself not to have the downs that I had in the beginning of the second set, you know, losing two times the serve.

But I regrouped, you know, mentally, and I came back.  That’s really a positive, you know, especially when you come back from double break down.  Against a player like Federer it is a success.  You know, it is a great achievement.

But look, you know, I cannot allow myself to have that many ups and downs, especially the next match.  You know, I know, I am aware of the intensity that I needed to play today and on Sunday, as well.

I’m not for the first time in that position.  I have let’s say the experience playing semifinals and finals against these two guys so many times in the last five years.  But never against Nadal in the finals here in Roland Garros, so it’s going to be a challenge.

Both of us want this title.  We’ll see who will prevail.

Q.  Can we have an answer in French for French radios, please?  (In French.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, I understand.

Q.  (In French.)  This is your most important match in your career.  What is your mindset?  How did you feel?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  (In French) Well, I’m happy with my game today.  I think that today this was a very important moment for me.  I played even better.  It’s very important before I play against Nadal.  It’s the first time I’m going to be with him in the finals here in Paris.  I hope I’m going to play a good match again, and that the level I’ll play will be high.

That’s the best can I do at this moment.

Q.  (In English.)  The last three times you played Nadal in the Grand Slam final you came in with a winning streak against him, and this time it’s different.  Do you feel like even though it’s on clay that the dynamic between you two has changed?  And how?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, he won the last two encounters we had on clay in finals in Monte‑Carlo and Rome.  Everything counts.  I did have a little strange circumstances in Monte‑Carlo.  But look, you know, I’m not looking for excuse.  He was a better player.

You know, things change at this level, as I said.  You know, I didn’t expect to win every match till the end of our careers against him, even though I won what, six, seven in a row?

But I won against him on clay last year two times back to back in eight days, and that’s something that is back of my mind.  That’s something that can give me confidence, you know, I can think of when I step on the court with him on Sunday.

But obviously it is different because now it’s best‑of‑five.  He has lost what, two matches in his career here?  So that’s ‑‑ or one?  (Laughter.)

That says enough, I mean, about his quality on this court.  I lost to him I think here I think maybe three times.  I haven’t won a set against him in this court.  You know, all the facts are on his side.

But, look, you know, I feel different nowadays.  I believe I’m at the peak of my career.  I’m playing the best tennis of my life in last year and a half, and I should use that, you know.  I should use that as a confidence boostance [sic] and try to get my hands on title.  Why not?

I have won against a great player today.  First time I find myself on Sunday in Paris.  Let’s see what I can do.

Q.  Roger Federer said that Rafa was clearly the favorite for the final.  Do you agree?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I just mentioned all the facts, so you can say that he’s a favorite, definitely.
It’s a final, so, again, I think it’s unpredictable what’s going to happen because we are top two players, and we have played so many times last year and a half in so many finals.

He is a favorite because of all the facts that we just mentioned.  But I believe in myself.  I think I have a chance.
Q.  What’s the difference between, say, controlling a match and points on grass and hard courts against Rafa than it would be on clay, which you’ve done a very good job with obviously on the other surfaces?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, because here you get an extra ball back.  It’s a slower conditions, which obviously suits him better.  The ball bounces a bit higher for his topspin that he plays, you know, on this surface.  It works at his advantage.

But between, you know, I think the conditions on the center court here in Roland Garros maybe comparing to other clay court events that we have, like Monte‑Carlo or maybe Rome, I think they are a little bit faster.

So that can maybe work in my favor.  But you can always expect him to play on a very high level, you know.  He doesn’t have much flaws in his game on this surface, so I need to step on the court believing I can win.

I mean, that’s the only way really I am aware of the differences in the surface.  But I’ll try to make ‑‑ to have a right mindset and believe.

Q.  I don’t want to insist so much on Rafa being the favorite and so on, but I would like you to give us a number, like the final is 50/50, 60% for him…

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I have to disappoint you.  I’m really not good with numbers.  I’m not good with percentages.  (Smiling.)

Q.  Can you just talk about the historical importance of this match?  I mean, for both of you there is a lot on the line.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, there’s a lot on the line.  It always is when you’re playing finals of a Grand Slam.

Obviously, you know, considering the matches that we played against each other in last 15 months, you know, we expect another emotional match, another big challenge for both of us, fighting for one of the four biggest titles in our sport.

So there’s always that on the line.  And of course the other side, for me personally, is that I have this golden opportunity to, you know, make history.  This motivates me, you know.  It really inspires me.

You know, I’m really grateful to be in this position, obviously.  And look, you know, I’ll try to prepare for that match and get my hands on that trophy if I can.

Q.  Can I ask you how much your grandfather is still in your thoughts?  If you don’t mind me asking.  How much of a motivation and inspiration kind of his memory is during this run?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, he’s always in my thoughts, you know, in a very positive way.

You know, I overcome the sadness that I had, you know, in that period during Monte‑Carlo tournament and afterwards.  Life goes on, and remember good moments.  Yeah, it was nice to see most of my family today there, even my cousins from Geneva.  They all came.  It was really nice to have my box full with the closest ones.

Q.  Just go back to the motivation.  You were talking about being motivated to make history.  When Roger was beating you in finals and Rafa was beating you in semifinals, did you ever think, One day I could actually eclipse them and do something that they haven’t done, which hasn’t been done in our sport?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s very hard to find anything they haven’t done and achieved, you know, both of these guys.  But if there is one thing they haven’t done and I can do, I would be very happy.

But I’m not thinking about that, you know.  It’s not about really, you know, okay, prestige or whatever, being better than one person.  I’m thinking about myself, my career, and just trying to win every match that I play on.

And obviously I had a lot of doubts, you know, in last couple of years if I can really overcome the big challenge of the two strongest players in our sport, most dominant players in our sport.

I’ve matured, you know.  I got stronger over the years.  You know, it’s because of them, as well, you know.  They made me a better player.  This is I think the beauty of today’s tennis in this moment, is that we make each other better players and better persons on and off the court.

So it’s, you know, it’s nice to see that.

Q.  When you prepare for a very important match, either with your entourage or yourself, do you sometimes watch videos of another match you’ve done with this player and analyze the situation and say, I should have done this or I should have done that?  Do you sometimes use video?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, sure.  We do have a different ways of preparation.  That’s one of the ways to prepare the strategy, yeah.

Q.  Do you intend to do this for the final?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I will keep my own routine, yes.  Yes.

Rafa's Semi Final Press Conference

Q.  Of your many memorable matches on this particular court, how highly would that rate amongst your victories, do you think?


Q.  Yes, today.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Sure was one of my best matches in this court, yeah.  I think I played really solid match with not easy conditions out there, a lot of wind.

In my opinion I did almost everything right, because my serve worked very well, changing directions.  My backhand was the best day so far today.  The forehand, I hit well the forehand during all the tournament.  Today wasn’t an exception.

But probably today the only difference is today I played close to the baseline and last day when I came here after the match after Almagro, I say that I would like to play a little bit more closer to the baseline, more inside, than the last match.

I will need to try to beat against the next opponents.  I did today.  I am very happy; sorry for David.  He deserve it.  He’s a great fighter.  He’s always there week after week.

Sure, it’s very important victory for me, and to win with this result against one of the best players of the moment, one of the best players of the world, is because I did very well.  If not, is impossible to win against David like this.

Q.  How close to perfection is your game at the moment?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t believe in perfection, no?  I really don’t like to talk about perfection, because that, my opinion, doesn’t exist.  You can play always better.

But, sure, I am very happy the way that I am playing.  Probably today was my best much on the tournament.  That’s fantastic, play my best match in one semifinals and against probably the more difficult opponent that I play here.

Q.  It’s easier to break serve on clay?  You have been broken only once in the tournament.  It’s pretty amazing.  How can you explain that?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I say the other day, sure, is easier to have breaks on clay.  But I say the other day, the first two rounds, in my opinion, I didn’t serve very well.  My serve didn’t work very well.

But I only lost one time my serve in the first round against Bolelli.  In the second set I think.  Or the third, second, I don’t know, but I was 4‑Love, 30‑Love.

I played very well from the baseline during all the tournament.  I played without mistakes.  But that’s true, after the first two rounds my serve started to work much better.

And the combination of serving well with good percentage, changing directions.  After that, we followed that with very good game from the baseline.  Playing aggressive with my forehand with no mistakes is more difficult to have breaks.

But, anyway, only lose one time is a coincidence, because I have break points against.  I saved a few ones like today on the beginning with lucky.

Is impossible only arrive to a final of Grand Slam with only one break on clay without a little bit of lucky in some moments.  But that’s true that probably I saved less moments than usual with my serve.

Q.  You’re obviously totally focused when you begin a match.  Are you a bit surprised, disappointed, that a Grand Slam semifinal, the first set, the stadium is half empty, particularly around the court?

RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  Is the timing probably wasn’t the best.  1:00 is probably not the best timing.  That’s the reason, no, in my opinion.  I played almost every day ‑‑ I can’t say every day with a full court.

Is not disappointing when you play since the first round, you know, with full crowd, full stadium in every round and you arrive to the semifinals, you play 1:00 in the afternoon.  At 1:00 is a little bit early, no?  I see after, at the end of the match, the court was almost everything full.

The normal thing, in my opinion ‑‑ I don’t remember very well, but last couple years we started at 2:00?  1:00, too?  Always at 1:00?

I had the feeling that we started at 2:00.  I don’t know why.

Q.  There was one great point during that rally with more than 30 strokes.  You fell on your back.  How did you react?  What went through your mind when you slipped?  And then afterwards, what do you think about such a point?  What does it say about tennis?

RAFAEL NADAL:  You know, is a combination of a few things, you know.  Confidence, because I was playing well in that moment.  I was playing better and better, and I fell down ‑‑ it was in the second set or beginning of the second, probably, yes, with 30‑All.

So, you know, I came from a few very good games after the 2‑1 against me in the beginning of the first.  I played like five, six games, very solid ones, playing better and better in every moment.

So you arrive to this situation, 30‑All, you play a fantastic point, you fall down, but seriously I saw the ball all the time.  Sometimes even if I lost the balance of my ball and I fell down, I was watching the ball in every moment.

So even if I am on the floor, I had the time to hit the ball in reasonable good position, no?  That’s all.

Q.  You lost two games to Juan Monaco in a previous round, very good player, highly regarded player.  Today the No. 6 player in the world gets five games off you.  What do you think that says about the level of competition to you on clay, on this surface, at the moment from the rest of the players?

RAFAEL NADAL:  The level of competition always is very high.  We cannot expect to have less competition this year than last year.  For example, that I saved a few different difficult matches.  I lost matches on clay.

The reason is probably playing one of my best levels on clay the last couple of matches.  That’s the reason of the results.  You know, I only remember these results on me in 2008 here.

To have these results always you have to unify a little different facts.  Today, for example, I saved a very important point at 2‑1 in the first set.  You never know if he have the 3‑1, he was playing better than me at the beginning of the match, just beginning, and you never know what’s going on.

But that’s tennis; that’s the sport.  Sometimes you feel great.  Seems like everything is going in your favor.  Sometimes you feel the opposite.

But the reason is I am playing well since the beginning of the season.  I am having almost perfect clay court season, and we’ll see what’s going on in the final.  It’s gonna be a very tough match, and doesn’t matter what’s happened during all the tournament.

That’s going to be a special match against No. 1 or No. 3 of the world.  I will see what’s going on, because it will be a very difficult battle for me.

Q.  I got the microphone three questions ago, and now you answered a bit.  So you’re more confident than ever now the way you’re playing since this is the fourth time already that you are in the final without losing a set?  This is different from the other times when you got to the final without losing a set?  Are you even more confident because you are playing much, much better, you don’t give any chance to any player or?

RAFAEL NADAL:  No, no.  The only thing that I don’t think is I am in the final without losing a set.  The way that I think is I am in the final; I am playing well; hopefully I can play one more match at this level.  That’s all.

Difficult to compare the feeling of 2008 with 2010, with 2011, because every year you have a different feeling, different situations, different experiences you arrive with.  You know, you are very much older, I am today.

The experience give me that you can lose when you are playing fantastic; you can win when you are not playing that well.  You have to be with calm, with feet on the floor and fighting every ball, and try to be ready for Sunday.  Hopefully I will.

But more or less confidence than 2008 and 2010 or 2005, that really doesn’t matter, because only thing that’s going to matter is how I’m going to play on this Sunday.

Q.  We’re now guaranteed that 28 of the last 29 Grand Slams have been won by three players, whoever wins the semifinal.  But can you give some thoughts on this kind of dominance from three players?  Never really seen that in men’s tennis before.

RAFAEL NADAL:  I am not the right one to say that probably, because any word I will say will sound arrogant maybe.  So that’s not the way that I like to answer the question.  So you can answer, and other people.

But I think that’s much the answer, no, because is difficult for me to answer this question.

THE MODERATOR:  Spanish questions, please.

Q.  We saw you when you were there on the court.  Nelson Monfort was speaking in Spanish and you were answering in French.  Why?  Well, by the way, this was a good thing to do; we could understand you clearly.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, French and Catalan are languages that are quite similar.  You know, at the end of the day there are a few words that I’ve learnt, you know, after coming here.

Sometimes I dare; sometimes I wouldn’t dare to speak French.

Q.  You’ve probably said this in English, but I’d like to ask you how you feel now that you’re going to play the finals.  Are you as happy as before, that is, the previous years?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, thank you very much.  I’m really glad.  I’m highly motivated, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.  I’m really happy.  I’m looking forward to it.

And, you know, you can’t save a country if you’re not motivated enough, if you haven’t got enough energy.  You can’t look forward to it.  So I’m really very happy and looking forward to the finals.

Q.  It’s your seventh finals here in Paris.  What does this mean for you now that you’re going to play the finals?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, you know, this means I play well.  I’m playing a good type of tennis.  I’ve improved since last year, and things have turned out quite positively for me since the beginning of the year.

And then I’ll be playing the Grand Slam finals, which is something quite special for me.  This tournament is special for me.  I’m really happy to reach this level, that is, the finals.

Considering what’s happened so far, I’d say this tournament has been excellent for me, and then we’ll see what happens next, what is is going to happen during the finals.

I mean, if I were to win I’d be very happy, but the best thing for me is to reap the fruit of these so many years of work.

I’d like to change my style a little and be more aggressive, slightly more aggressive.  Anyway, I’m really happy to reach the finals irrespective of what might happen during the finals, because I’ve improved.  I’ve gone a notch up, if you will.

My level has improved slightly against last year’s.  I’ll see if I win or lose.  But I’m satisfied and happy, because I’ve already improved.

Last year I had the impression I didn’t really play that well; whereas this year I’m playing really well.  But that’s sport, you know.  So far, so good.

I’ll still practice and work on a number of things.  Of course, on Sunday I’ll play my best tennis.

Q.  You’ve said you’ve gone a notch up or you’ve gone through a step.  Do you think you’ve reached your best type of tennis on clay, or close to it?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I don’t really remember.  Are you talking about 2008 or are you talking about 2010 or 2005?  I don’t know.  You know, it’s a bit complicated.  I don’t really realize.

But anyway, the thing I can tell you is that I’ve changed a number of things in my game.  My level is still very high, which is something very positive.  It’s equally important to have the right feelings, and to have the impression that you’re improving is something important.

It counts to be motivated.  I’m still very much eager to learn and do things all the time better and better.

This is what motivates me, what makes me happy.  I’m not talking about my results, which is the logical consequence of what I’ve just said.  But my objective, as I’ve always said, is to always improve day after day.

Q.  As we’ve said, it’s your seventh finals here at Roland Garros.  The score was 6‑2, 6‑2, 6‑1.  You have 51 victories and 51 consecutive sets won on clay, which is incredible.  All of these statistics and records are incredible.  It’s extraordinary, as if you were not a human being.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, no.  I am, of course.  I think that there are things I understand today better than before.  I work daily; I practice daily; I meet these objectives daily without really thinking about them.

Each time you’re on the courts, you know, you know that you might lose, as well; you might be defeated.  So I have to keep a low profile about it; we have to be humble.

By the way, you know, these statistics don’t come out of the blue.  This is the result of the work I’ve put in day in, day out.

Also it’s thanks to this desire that I have to improve that I’ve had all of these results.  Without all of these ingredients I couldn’t have done what you have said, all of these numbers that I was not really aware of.

Then I’ll have to continue and practice and work and keep my focus until Sunday so that I can continue and then finish the season.  So far I got off to a really good start.  I’m really satisfied with what’s happened.

I’m really happy about the things that life has given me so far.

Q.  Some of your points were incredible, and the games, as well.  There was one where you were on the clay seated; that was incredible.  Has this happened to you before, to win a point this way?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I think so.  I think in Wimbledon almost the same type of situation, a passing shot.  I can’t remember how I won the point or not.  It was either Wimbledon or Queen’s.  I think I got the point once against Federer, the other one against Djokovic.

So Federer was the finals at Wimbledon, and Djokovic was at Queen’s, I think, almost.  So I fell at that moment, but I knew I could still hit the ball.  You know, I wanted to come to the net but the ball had not bounced high enough, so I couldn’t volley and I fell.

In any case, my eyes were always on the ball.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  I didn’t feel like it was easy.  But my eyes were constantly on the ball.

Then when I realized I couldn’t volley, I thought, Okay, it’s still within reach.  I can hit it, I thought.

Q.  In a nutshell, since 2005 how did you manage to learn more and more?  How did you acquire more and more experience?  Would you say that your tennis today is richer than before?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, yes.  You know, you constantly learn new things.  You have to remember a number of things, a number of ingredients.  Sometimes you might lose some of these ingredients.

Maybe I’ve lost some of my energy.  When I was younger I could rally longer, I think.  Everything was a novelty for me.  Today perhaps there is less novelty about it for me.

But otherwise I think that tennis will very much depend on the surface you play on.  The game will be different on a different surface.

As I said before, that is, during my first press conference, I said, In the past I will try and play as many tournaments as I could.  Now I play half of the tournaments on clay compared to what I would do in the past.

I think that in terms of my moves, I move better on clay.  I don’t feel as much electricity as I felt in the past, but I think that it’s true to say that my tennis has improved.

Q.  In another conference you said that this year you have more confidence, you’re more aggressive, you play better tennis compared to last year’s tennis.  You also said that this started in Australia, even though you were defeated in the finals.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, yes, if I lose again I will say exactly the same.

Q.  The question is:  You’ve played excellent tennis in Australia; that was your best level probably.  Now with your victories against Djokovic in Rome and Monte‑Carlo, would you say these victories were very important for you so that you could come up with this level of tennis at Roland Garros?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, no.  You know, these are two victories, okay, but you can win only if you have enough confidence, if you’re serene.

You know, this level, I had it in Australia already.  This is when it started, even though I lost seven points in a row in Australia, I think.

However, my level in Australia is similar to today’s level.  The surface was faster, the conditions were more complicated, but yet I played an excellent type of tennis.  I was defeated during the finals, which might again happen this year.

So after losing the finals in Australia, I thought, however, I’m satisfied.  I played good tennis.  I’m satisfied with my tournament so far.

I was sad because I had been beaten; yet I was proud, proud of my style, the way I had fought back.  There was a passing shot, a backhand along the line which I missed, which was otherwise easy.

But that’s sports, you know.  We have to accept this.  And the fact of winning or losing is one thing, that’s true, but we should never forget the reality of things.  I won in Rome and Monte‑Carlo because my tennis was better against Djokovic.

Maybe I’ve won today because my level was better.  And the fact of beating and defeating Djokovic, that’s true, gave me more confidence.  Sometimes you have positive streaks; sometimes you have negative streaks.  They don’t come out of the blue.

So it’s all very nice to look at things from a distance or afterwards.  But one should be careful in doing this so as not to come up with misconstrued ideas.  We have to look at reality.

If today I win a match, that’s okay.  If I lose one, it’s due to a number of ingredients.  That’s life.  You know, that’s sports.  We shouldn’t look too far or too deep for reasons sometimes.

Q.  I think sometimes that you said in Australia you found your way.  Where did you find this new path, this new way?  Was it in New York or somewhere else?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, in New York, that’s true, mentally I was better.  I was more demanding.  I know how far I can go, which is something I couldn’t do before; whereas in Australia, in Melbourne, I decided to try and find his limits, the opponent’s limits, because I believed in what I was doing.

Mentally the situation was different in Australia, in Melbourne, compared to the US Open.  According to me, I was mentally better in New York.

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