MC: Preview presser transcript

Photo by Beth Wilson

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.

22 Responses

  1. kefuoe says:

    I kind of want to hear him say, “invincible”.

  2. Atch2 says:

    Yeah. Rafa hardly sucks on hardcourt. 1 Grand Slam and about 5 Atp Masters Serious titles, and a lot as a finalist on hardcourt is pretty damn great. Even many who are more hardcourt specialists can’t match that.

  3. tiemyshoe says:

    I love how practical he is…althought part of me wishes just once he’d say, “Of course I gonna win the whole thing.”

    To be followed by snort-laughing, of course.

    Yes, he’s more vulnerable on hard courts, but it’s not like he sucks on them, no?
    Exactly. Does any player besides Federer have a better winning percentage than Rafa on hardcourts? I highly doubt it.

    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.
    I thought it was his standard answer until you wrote that, and I re-read it, and you’re right! The last “I am thinking about this right now” suggests that he’s definitely feeling the tension, the pressure.

    It kind of reminds me of how he was during those summer hardcourt tournaments in 2008, where he knew that if he got good results he could finally be #1. He was tense and you could tell he was thinking about the big picture all the time, when he usually doesn’t let himself do that. This is a more serious and arguably more important time for him, and I suspect part of the nerves being felt in IW/Miami might be because Rafa was thinking ahead in a way.

    • miri says:

      I thought it was his standard answer until you wrote that, and I re-read it, and you’re right!

      I thought it was the standard “one match at a time” thing until I re-read it too. I hope I’m not reading too much into it and coloring opinions wrong, but I do agree that perhaps this is part of the tension/match problems we’ve been seeing lately.

    • Ch F says:

      It’s certainly different from what he usually states, ie I’m only focusing on this tournament and on my first match. So sad to hear him say that and not quite sure what to make of it. I’m sure he feels the pressure, which wouldn’t have been the case had he won a title before the clay season.

      What really worries me is whether he still has the same motivation. Seems to me the standard “I’ll keep trying and if I’m always in the semis or the final one day I’ll win” attitude is fading away. It’s probably the frustration of the injuries, it must be really horrible. Not only did he have to recover but he also had to change his game to adjust to the new order of things. The injuries have been a huge blow. It’s frightening how the fact of winning (or not winning)a title almost becomes a decisive factor from now on. Cause even if the knees continue to suffer, winning a title will help him through this all and give him courage to carry on.

      • tiemyshoe says:

        I don’t see anything defeatist or sad about what he says – only an expression that he sees the importance of these tournaments and might be feeling the pressure. There’s no indication, in my mind, that he’s lost motivation. Where are you seeing that?

        • tiemyshoe says:

          Sorry, left out a sentence:

          If anything, in my mind he’s actually admitting here that he really values the big tournaments, and sees succeeding at the small ones as the precondition for being able to get big victories. (This is about as close as Rafa’s going to come to admitting that he’s in it to win Slams – he usually goes the “every match is important in itself” route.)

          • Ch F says:

            I probably didn’t express myself very well! In the second half of my post I was basically expressing my worries about what the injuries might do to his motivation, not that I read any lack of motivation into this specific statement. I just thought it was a statement a bit out of the ordinary for Rafa, expressing some anxiety or tension. It could of course mean nothing at all.

            • tiemyshoe says:

              True, a bit out of the ordinary. ‘Course, maybe even the Rafabot goes slightly off message once in awhile. ;)

              Let’s distract ourselves with how pretty he looks:

              • CC says:

                This is all very interesting and I kind of wish I could say something about the pressure Rafa must feel and the motivation that I’m sure he still has, but reading Rafa’s presser and I’m just left with the usual feeling of not having a clue what he really thinks or wants or feels. To me the questions are just the usual journo stuff and his answers, although charmingly Spanglish, just…the same as always, no?

              • Nic says:

                LOL rafabot :) Very apt descriptor for the presser version of rafa. And yes, he is oh so pretty there in MC

      • JK says:

        I think we all are reading too much into this. He did start out saying most important match is his next match on Wednesday. He always had one match at a time attitude and he still has that. Its obvious he would like to go into French Open winning something before that – I am sure he feels the same way at the start of every clay court season and this year it would be no different.

  4. natch says:

    “I think I improved on hard.”
    Oh! So many things to do with this sentence. It brings back memories of getting meat well into him. ;)

    • sia says:

      Not sure I can put into words my reaction to this:
      “I think I improved on hard.
      Oh! So many things to do with this sentence. It brings back memories of getting meat well into him. ;)”
      More of a visceral reaction. ;)

      • natch says:

        Aw. I meant it like there were so many uses of that phrase – “getting meat well into me.” Mine are all pleasant!
        So…naturally, all the ways I could use “improved on hard”…gives me quite a thrill.

        Like: Rafa, you can put your clothes back on and go see sia. You’ve improved on hard quite a bit today! ;)

        • sia says:

          :) natch … don’t get me wrong my visceral reaction was related to deep inward feelings … as in … I wonder what that might feel like.
          But hey I’m up for a bit of …’why don’t you show me what you learned at natch’s place today.’ blink .. blink.

    • Rafangel says:

      Where did he say “getting meat well into me”???????? How did I miss that? Was I temporarily dead?

  5. faeaki7 says:

    The fact he was so dominant on clay made him look weak on other surfaces no?

    Great comment and so true, never really thought of it this way and yeah next time some ass says to me that Rafa is a clay courter and isn’t no good on h/c (some jerk at the O2 selling programs said this to me, made me so mad and I reminded him that Rafa had won no other than a GS on h/c’s that year.. followed by Indian wells!), I will put it to them just like your comment!

  6. arwen says:

    I want him to win the monte carlo title so badly.And if he manages to dominate the clay court season as he did last year,
    it would be lovely.I believe that if he wins one title the rest will come easily.He deserves that,he is a true,great champion.come on rafa, play aggresive and take care about the knees.vamos…..

  7. rubik says:

    miri, thanks for the transcript. Nadal’s answer to the last question is very interesting. As you mentioned, that’s an usually clear statement from Nadal on his confidence building for a future 2010 GS BEFORE the actual start of the clay season for him in Monte Carlo. VAMOS, Nadal!