Thanks to Atch2 for pointing out that Rafa’s preview presser transcript was posted.
Q. How does it feel to be back here?
RAFAEL NADAL: Like every year, no, always is a pleasure play here in Monte Carlo. For me is one of the nicest tournaments of the year.
For sure for me always is a special tournament to come back, and very happy.
Are there any that aren’t special?
Q. How did you find the transition from hard court to clay? Was it easy?
RAFAEL NADAL: You need some days. Yeah, I am practicing well. I am with every motivation to still playing like I did the last few months, and I think I’m doing well.
Just try to keep play like I did. Need few matches to try to play my best tennis on clay. But I think I am okay.
I wonder if he asked for a Wednesday start to give in an extra day for the transition…especially since he isn’t playing doubles.
Q. Last year everyone was expecting you to win because you already won here. Maybe this year everybody expects you to win because it’s been a long time since you have not won a tournament. What do you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am coming here with I don’t know sure I try to play my best to try to win. I’m another one that I hope have my chances to play a tournament and have a chance to have a very good result.
But, you know, is a Master 1000. Is a very difficult tournament. Almost all the best players of the world are here. I did well last years on clay. I hope continuing doing like in the past, no?
But Monte Carlo, it’s, well, if I’m playing Monte Carlo…
THE INTERPRETER: It doesn’t mean that since I won Monte Carlo five years in a row, I can win for the sixth time.
I love how practical he is…althought part of me wishes just once he’d say, “Of course I gonna win the whole thing.”
Q. A few words about the French guys and their chances on clay this season?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the French player are good players in every surface. Tsonga can play in every surface. Mathieu, too. Gasquet, too. Sure Monfils, too. I don’t know how is him.
Well, I don’t know, no? Everyone will have his chances and depends how they are playing like everybody.
“How is him” – never lose the Spanglish, Rafa.
Q. You played at a very high level in Miami, although you didn’t win the tournament. How encouraging was that coming into this clay court season?
RAFAEL NADAL: I played well in all the tournaments this year. I didn’t win yet, but I was there all the time. I had the problem on the knee in Australia, but I was playing really well.
And in Doha, for sure, best level probably in Doha. In Indian Wells, I was playing very good tournament. I played a terrible match in semifinals, but the rest of the matches I was playing a very high level. And in Miami, too. I played well. I played good match against Nalbandian, very good match against Tsonga. And later in the semifinals I was playing very well in the beginning. Then he played well and I played little bit worse.
That’s important, always play well, because that gives me a lot of confidence, give me know how I can play well another time, because the last year, the last six months, anyway, if I didn’t have bad result, having semifinals, one final in Shanghai, quarterfinals in other tournaments, I feel I wasn’t ready to win important tournaments.
But this year since I start, I feel ready.
Ah, that journalist was slightly smarter than average. Didn’t phrase the question as “how much does the title drought suck.”
Q. Do you think psychologically it’s different now because the players, the other players, think maybe you are beatable on clay, when before they thought you were unbeatable?
RAFAEL NADAL: You can ask them, the rest of the players, not me.
Heee! You tell ’em, Rafa. You can’t speak for them.
Q. Does it change the mental game with you, as well?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I lost a match, one match, no, in Roland Garros? I lost in Madrid in one final. I won the last, I don’t know, lot of tournaments, no, on clay? I won Davis Cup final. Important match for me, too, against Berdych.
I never felt I am invincible in no one surface even on clay. Sure I’m not feeling the same now, no? For me, doesn’t matter what the rest of the players think.
What a polite way to say, “Have you seen my winning percentage on clay your stupid idiot?”
Q. You’ve improved a lot on hard surfaces, hard court. Do you still think that clay is your best surface?
RAFAEL NADAL: I hope so, yeah (smiling). I think I improved on hard. But I didn’t improve the last year. I think I was playing well since 2005. I did very well in hard court, too, no?
Sure, I improved a few aspects of my game. That gives me more chances to play better in every tournament on hard because I playing well the slice and volleying. My volley’s a little bit better. Sure, the serve, too. Probably on clay I did very well. But I only play four, five tournaments on clay every year. Is not a lot. But for last years was enough. I don’t know.
I think always the clay gonna be a little bit more easier for me, but… I don’t know.
As always, the fact he is so dominent on clay makes him seem weak on other surfaces. Yes, he’s more vulnerable on hard courts, but it’s not like he sucks on them, no?
Q. After last year, what is more important for you this year, to win Roland Garros again or win Wimbledon? What is your main objective?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me the more important thing is the match on Wednesday, first round here. That is for me the most important thing for me, no? I always thought day to day. Doesn’t change, no?
You know, the big victories, you can have a big victories if you have the small victories before. Every year is important for that. Every year I’m practicing, try my best, and in every match I going to do the same.
So probably if I don’t have a good result here, in Rome or in Madrid, my chances in Roland Garros or Wimbledon will be for sure less chances than if I have the good results here in these tournaments.
So I am thinking about this right now.
Hmmm…this might qualify as one of the strongest admissions I’ve heard from him that results in Tournament A might affect results in Tournament B when he hasn’t even started play in Tournament A yet.