The transcript of Rafa’s post semi presser is up.
Q. If you win tomorrow, it will be the sixth time in a row and you will become the first player in the Open Era to do that. It’s crazy, no?
RAFAEL NADAL: Somebody won five times?
Heh, so much for Rafa not being aware of the numbers. No, Rafa – you are the only one to have won this tournament five times in a row.
Q. No, in any tournament.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, don’t put more pression on me (smiling).
Well, for me that’s the statistics. We going to see the statistics when I finish my career. Just right now I focused on try to play like I am doing.
Tomorrow going to be a tough match anyway to play. Both players are very good. So for me it’s very, very important be in this final after play good start of the season. But losing two tough matches in Indian Wells and Miami, so that is close, no?
Important be another step. Is important points for me. For sure be in the final of Monte Carlo is a dream. So I will try my best to try to play my best match tomorrow.
No more pression! Given how nervous Rafa looked serving for the match in the semi and how head-casey Nando can be, I hope we aren’t in for a head-casey match tomorrow. Confidence, Rafa – you can do it!
Q. I understand when you say you want to finish your career before deciding what is the best record. Up to today, what do you consider your best record of all? You have so many already. Which one is really standing out?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me 81 victories on clay. I think I have 81, yeah. So for me that’s difficult to do it another time (smiling). Yeah, that’s a lot.
That’s not a lot. That’s an obscene amount! (And just to be sure everyone understands: that’s 81 wins in a row on clay.)
Q. And of all the records that Roger Federer has, what do you think is the one that stands out, the most impressive?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me, the semifinals in Grand Slams in a row.
Q. More than the 16 slams?
RAFAEL NADAL: 16 slams are unbelievable, no? But be, I don’t know, five or six years without lose no one time in Grand Slam and playing every Grand Slam and being in semifinals, minimum of semifinals every time, is unbelievable.
I agree with this one – to show up over and over again and not let your concentration slip so much in an early round match against number 200+ in the world… Not to mention being a genetic freak of nature who never gets injured…
Q. You always say it’s been a tough match. After Ferrero, after Ferrer you said the same. How do you explain the easy looking score line every time?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am playing well. I am playing very well. I think I play a very good match today. The last two games, I was a little bit more nervous than usual because I lost two semifinals in a row, in Indian Wells and Miami. But for the rest, I think I played very, very complete match.
No nerves! Be confident! No head-case moments! You can do this! (Was that too cheerleader-y? Sorry.)
Q. Is this the best you’ve felt you’re playing for some time now?
RAFAEL NADAL: I told you, I don’t know, one day during this week, I think I am playing well. But since I start 2010, I am feeling I am playing really well here on clay. On clay probably is a little bit more easier for me to play. The surface adapts a little bit better to my game, or my game adapts a little bit better to clay.
But since I start 2010, I am playing well in almost every tournament. I play really well in Doha, Abu Dhabi, too. Australia maybe was the worst. But when I was playing in quarterfinals against Murray, I was playing at very high level, no? I didn’t win the first set or the second. I don’t know why. But I was playing very high level.
Later in Indian Wells and Miami I had good chance to win, to win both. But I played terrible match in semifinals in Indian Wells. Anyway, I was a little bit unlucky there because I had too many chances. And Indian Wells and Miami, Roddick played well, but I was doing well. I don’t know.
“I told you” and then forgets when. Heh.
Q. With all the airplane problems going out, do you already know how you’re going to get back home or to the next tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me is not a big problem because normally I go by car to Barcelona here. Better by plane because by car is a little bit long, but for me is no problem. I go by car. That’s it.
That’s it. Oh, need someone to ride shotgun?
Q. Do you agree to say you play much better here this year in Monte Carlo than last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s not very difficult.
Heh – was it last year here or in Rome when Rafa said after a set against Nando that he’d just played the worst tennis of his life? (Said it on court while standing right in front of Nando’s team.)
Q. What’s the biggest change?
RAFAEL NADAL: Last year I was in a – you know, seems like is, you know, not easy for me say that. Seems like is strange because I won here, I won Barcelona, I won in Rome, I played the final in Madrid. But seriously, I didn’t play well, you know. I played terrible matches here against Lapentti, against Ljubicic. Another one, I don’t know. The first round, I don’t know against who I played. Chela? I don’t know.
But semifinals and final was better last year. But I started to have a problems in the knees here. I had a little bit personal problems in that moment and mentally wasn’t at the top for me part of the year.
And this year I think I am playing much better because I am running a little bit better, I am playing more aggressive. That’s very important. Forehand is going well. The backhand, too. I am playing much better from every place.
More aggressive is good; running better is good; Rafa is good.
Q. You seem very composed, calm, when you’re playing.
RAFAEL NADAL: Very?
Heh – did they miss a joke? “Very?” as in, “Did you see the game when I was serving for the match?”
Q. Calm and composed, relaxed. Is this because you had maybe some problems before, you’re not feeling this frustration, your mind is clear?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, I am playing well. Finally you feel you are playing well, you can be more calm because, you know, if I am playing like this, is just time. I need time. I need more tournaments. That’s it.
In every tournament that I played this year, I had my chance to win the tournament. So when you are there every week, finally you gonna have your chance and finally you gonna win. I don’t know if tomorrow, I don’t know if next week or the next, but the important thing is be there and play well.
Last year I was there. After the injury when I came back, I was there every week, but playing bad. When you are playing bad, if you are there, you have less chance. This year change everything.
Feel free to change everything except for the winning result. ;)
Q. The other semifinal is not over. Djokovic lost the first set. How do you see it different for you to play Djokovic, to play Verdasco? One is more a friend than the other or both are friends?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have very good relation with both players. Sure, with Verdasco I have more relationship because he is Spanish. I know him a little bit better.
But with Novak, I have excellent relationship. Is a very good guy.
We will see what’s happen.
Q. Technically what is the difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: First thing, one is a lefty, another one is righty. The game is completely different. I don’t know if I have to start to say everything.
But is different, completely different styles.
Rafa’s record against lefties is amazing.
Q. How proud are you to have so many Spanish players, Verdasco is not so strong before, how proud are you when Verdasco is playing at this level?
RAFAEL NADAL: Verdasco playing at this level since a year. Since last year in Australia I think he’s playing at very good level. He’s doing well. He’s playing regular all the weeks. That’s good for us.
‘Cause being regular is a good thing.
Q. Do you think because you’re playing so well, the other players are playing well, the Spanish players?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t think so. I think Verdasco always had amazing potential. He can play very well. Important thing is if he is focused mentally, his shots are unbelievable, no? So he can be at very high level.
Yeah, sure. He only plays well when other Spanish players are doing well. The heck? And Verdasco has potential…hmmm…is that code for, “He’s been okay until now, but he really could be good. If only he had a head on his shoulders.” ;)
(Thanks to JC for pointing this out to me as it appears to have gone up while I was either out and about or napping.)