an interview with Rafa for Reuters news. Excerpts:
REUTERS: The U.S. Open is only grand slam event that you have yet to win. How does it feel going in to the tournament, especially since you were out of action for more than two months with your knee injury?
NADAL: “I think I am going to have more options in the next few years. The important thing is to feel confident with my knees and when I feel confident with my knees, I’m going to be able to practise harder and find my best performance as soon as possible.
“It’s tough to say if I am going to be ready 100 percent for the U.S. Open. It’s normal, isn’t it, because after a long break and major injuries, it’s difficult to be ready. But I will try.”
When he feels confident with his knees he will be able to practice harder.
REUTERS: How does it feel back to be on court after the long break you had to take because of the tendinitis you suffered in your knees?
NADAL: “It seems like my knees are much better. But you never know. I have to play at the top level to see how it affects my knees.”
Yep, still not confident. *sigh*
REUTERS: How far do you think this is going to affect your long term career?
NADAL: “Not at all.” [snip]
That sounds good.
REUTERS: How much is the ATP Tour and its schedule to blame for what happened to you? Do you think the way the calendar is packed with tournaments puts a lot of pressure on players?
NADAL: “Well, it’s clear that the calendar can’t be perfect for everyone but I think that we—the players, the ATP—are working hard to try to develop the best possible calendar for the players and for the tournaments.
“I think that everyone knows that starting on January 1 and ending on December 5 is too long of a calendar but it’s not easy to fix because there are many tournament interests at play and everything is very difficult and you can’t scorn any tournament. We must try to find the best possible solution that more or less pleases everyone.”
REUTERS: What needs to need to change?
NADAL: “Things need to change. What is bad about the calendar is not just that is starts on January 1 and ends on December 5. I believe the bad thing about the calendar is how it is made and obligates you to play tournaments all year. If you want to achieve the most you can (and) go as high up (in the rankings) as you can, you have to play from the start to the finish because there are important tournaments from the beginning to the end.”
Dear Rafa – I agree with you, the schedule is brutal. But if you want to make this argument, you must never play any optional tournaments, no? I know you get pressure from different fractions (including yourself) to play some tournaments, but…stop it! ;)
REUTERS: Three months ago you were the defending champion at three grand slam events and the world number one. Now you only have the Australian Open title in your possession and are no longer ranked number one, has that changed your outlook going into the U.S. Open?
NADAL: “I am not number one right now but I always say the same thing. My motivation and aspiration is the same, being number one or being number five. So that’s the truth. And my goal is the same—it’s to always be happy playing, it’s to enjoy the game and improve always.
“That’s what I work on—improving my tennis. And to be happy playing because if I’m not happy playing, it’s very difficult to play well. I need to have the right attitude. I am going to play the next tournaments with the same aspiration and motivation as last year. Doesn’t matter.”
Always the same; never matters.
REUTERS. Was this break good in any way for you? Did you enjoy taking time off from the game?
NADAL: “It was tough because with this injury I couldn’t move a lot. So the doctors told me to relax and I am a very productive person. I like to always be active and playing a sport, and well, I did important things like travel around Majorca in a boat. It was unbelievable. Very nice.
“But mostly, I didn’t do much because I had to be on the sofa more than ever. I was going through more than five hours of treatment everyday.”
Around the whole island on a boat? That sound wonderful (and important).
REUTERS: Although Roger Federer won the French Open and Wimbledon titles this year, some people said his victories might be devalued because he did not beat you at the two tournaments. What is your opinion on this?
NADAL: “The important thing is to win the tournament. It doesn’t matter who you win against in the final. For me a win against Roger is always very, very special but I would love to win any grand slam against someone in the final. (laughs). Doesn’t matter who the rival is.”