Q. You were up 6 2, 5 2, then what happened? You lost four of five games. Was it because of him or you, or both?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I was playing very well. I think I had the match under control, playing well, playing with good tactic, too, I think good strategy. And, yeah, I thought my chance was in the 5 2. That was the moment for me. With the 5 3, yeah, I play a little bit shorter.
Well, Andy’s amazing player, no? He has this ability of, when he needs, he can put it to a little more level. He did anyway. I have the match point at 5 3. I had one forehand to try to have the winner. I played so so, cross forehand, and later he has good drop. So, yeah, nothing to say. He play better.
I am very happy about my match. I play much better today than the other days. So that’s a good match for the final. I’m very happy to be in this final. Very happy to beat Andy because always a very good player. Very tough.
Yep, he played shorter – that’s the book on Rafa when he’s a little nervous and it was the case here too. Andy started to tee-off on the short balls.
Q. Did you feel he improved since the last time you played him on clay last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know if he improve on clay; he improve his level everywhere. That’s the thing, no? Last year I play with him, I don’t know what was his ranking. Wasn’t top 10 I think.
Q. 11 or 12.
RAFAEL NADAL: Anyway, the ranking and the results are totally different, yeah.
I love how he refuses to feed the “improve on X-surface” story-line for other players just like he does when asked the same question about himself.
Q. Can you talk about playing Novak.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, always is a very tough, tough match. He’s a good player. I think he’s playing well. He is having a very good tournament.
Sure, I have to play my best tennis if I want to have chances to win, no? So I gonna try to play aggressive and try my best. I know gonna be tough, but I expect play like today or a little bit better.
Better is always good.
Q. Do you feel unbeatable here?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Sure not.
SuuuUUuuuure. (Actually, I think he’s smart enough to never let himself feel unbeatable. That feeling? Sure sign you are about to be beat.)
Q. Not many people expected that Murray could play so well on clay. Maybe you did. What is your impression about him in terms of development of game? Can he adjust to clay so he can become your toughest opponent, as it was Federer until last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: A lot of players can play very well on clay. Andy’s one of these players. And when one player have results, winning in Rotterdam, winning in Doha, winning in Miami…
Q. I’m talking about clay.
RAFAEL NADAL: Doesn’t matter. If you are good player, you are good player in everywhere, no? In the end, everybody talks about my game wasn’t good for Wimbledon, and I had three finals. So when you have a level, when you have a very good level, you can play at the best level in every surface. And Andy gonna do that for sure, yeah.
And sure, he gonna continuing improve on clay because he gonna win a lot of matches. When you are playing more matches and more matches, and you have more wins, you have more confidence, and you watch a little bit better how to play on this surface.
Is the first year when he arrives with this level, so sure he gonna has his chances in the future to win in Roland Garros. ‘In the future’? In five weeks maybe, but sure in the future.
It ain’t about the surface, people! For Rafa it’s all about the confidence and he seems to view other players the same way.
Q. You have won 30 sets in a row in Monaco. What does it mean to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I never thought about that, no? For me the only thing and important thing is I started the season, the clay season, well, playing the final here. Anyway, the result tomorrow is a very good start. I’m very happy for that. And happy today because improve my level more than 50% than the other days, no? That’s very important for me.
I refuse to talk about your silly numbers and streaks.
Q. What was your strategy coming to the net against Murray? Before the match, what did you think about Murray?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I thought try to play with topspin, try to play long balls against his backhand, try to put him outside with my forehand and wait my moment to go inside.
I know he play sometimes three meters behind the line, have some dropshots. When I have the chance, go to the net.
But I think he play long. He play some high balls. So, yeah, was tough to attack because when the ball is coming soft and long and high, is really tough to have important shot, no?
So I think I was waiting all the time my moment. But I did well, yeah. That’s what I think before the match, what I thought, no?
He thought about playing with topspin? Shocking!
Q. Is it an advantage to have beaten Novak in Davis Cup recently on clay?
RAFAEL NADAL: A lot of things change from that moment. He’s not the same player. Yeah, it was his second match on clay. Right now he having very good wins here. He has more matches on the shoulder. Gonna be totally different match, I am sure.
Nole does seem a lot more confident than he was around DC time. It could be a tight match, but I’m still putting my money on Rafa.