RG: 2nd round presser

Photo by AP Photo/ Lionel Cironneau

Rafa’s presser video and transcript is up on the official site. Check it out here. Caught playing with his phone? :)

Q. You said against Mina you don’t play well. Do you think today you play well as you want to play?

RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I think I improved a little bit. I improved a little bit. I played a little bit better. But sure, not perfect, no?
But sure, is a little bit of improvement. That’s always important to play a little bit better every day, no?

So I did. Today I happy for the victory. Never easy. He’s a good player. He’s a young player and he’s coming well. So it’s a good win for me, and I’m happy for that. But I hope to keep improving.

“He’s a young player” who’s 2 years older than you!

Q. What would be the difference in your tactics, the way you play compared from 2005 the first year you played here to now? How would you say your game has changed on the clay?

RAFAEL NADAL: I forget. I think I improved. 2005 I think I played well. Probably not here I played here some matches well and others not that well. But I think I am serving better, I have a better backhand, a little bit better forehand, too. I have the position on court much better than 2005.

Probably I am running like I did in 2005, 2006, no? I can win a lot of matches without run crazy all the time, so that’s a big improvement.

He forgot? He’s in a cheeky mood. Must have been a good text message ;) (And I’m pretty sure he said he wasn’t running like he did in 2005, 2006.)

Q. You obviously had problems coming into Roland Garros last year. Could you compare how you’re feeling now after a couple of games and compare it to the same stage last year?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, impossible to compare, no? I answered these questions a lot of times, and, you know, is very difficult to compare every year. The conditions are different.

But you never know what’s happened this year. Last year I arrived one of the favorites, too, and I lost. That’s difficult to compare.

Never ask him to compare years – it’s not going to get you anywhere. Ever.

Q. I have a question on the balls.

RAFAEL NADAL: The what?

Balls, Rafa. They want to ask you about your balls.

Q. The balls.

RAFAEL NADAL: Ah.

Q. Do you choose the balls in a different manner? Do you prefer to keep the ball if you win the point, or you change?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I never play two points with the same ball, no. No, no. I don’t like. Is slower.

Oh, they wanted to ask about tennis balls. That’s much more boring.

Q. I was just watching Djokovic play. I didn’t see your match. Do you try to serve and volley maybe one, two, three times? If you do, is it for surprise, and do you do it on the first or the second serve? Which do you think is better? Just to try to surprise, to use the serve and volley?

RAFAEL NADAL: I am not doing.

Wait. Didn’t see the match? Should they be allowed into the post-match presser when they haven’t seen the damn match?

Q. But why would you not do it one, two, just to surprise your opponent?

RAFAEL NADAL: We’ll see. We will see if I did. I did a few times. Not here yet, but, you know, my idea is not before the point, matter my idea is never gonna have serve and volley. I never gonna have desire. Not here on clay.

But if I serve one good serve outside, good slice to the backhand of the opponent, I see if I see I can go, I go. But it doesn’t happen yet here. I am not serving that well. (Smiling.) Not yet. I need to serve a little bit better next match.

So, when we see a serve and volley, I guess that means he’s happy with his serve.

Q. If I could, I’d like to ask you a difficult question.

RAFAEL NADAL: Very difficult? Gonna be difficult to answer.

*snort*

Q. Right, exactly. Roger recently said that on clay you don’t need a volley or serve. You just need legs, an incredible forehand, and backhand. You can be competitive even with a very incomplete game. What are your thoughts on that?

RAFAEL NADAL: Everybody has his every guy’s free to have his own opinion. No, I think probably a lot of years ago when you play with the slower balls, with the slower racquets, you know, with the small racquets and you can’t have a winner, was very difficult to have a winner, probably.

But in my opinion now, in the sport is important to think how to win the match. Probably in very fast surfaces that’s not happen, because you can have one serve and one forehand. That’s the only that’s the only way for the moment, one serve or one volley, only one serve.

Here you can play with more tactics. You can change your style. You can play attacking; you can play defending; you can go to the volley; you can play with the baseline.

So you have many options to do, and I think that’s nice for the sport, too. I think every surface has difficult things. But sure, have a good forehand, good backhand, good legs and good movements, that’s not an easy thing.

That’s a very long way to say, “I disagree, but you aren’t going to pull me into drama like you were trying to.”

Q. And if you had to, in terms of being an athlete, athleticism between clay courts, hard, and grass, where do you need to be the best athlete? How would you rank them in terms of being an athlete?

RAFAEL NADAL: You can be a good athlete on every surface. For me, doesn’t matter that moment, no? Sure, if the court is very fast, you don’t need to be you don’t need to have unbelievable physical performance, no? You not gonna have very long points.
In the rest of the surfaces, you have to be fit. You have to be fast and you have to be an athlete to be in the top position. Not one player in top 100 is not fit.

Damn. I thought I stood a chance of playing Wimbledon since only clay requires you to be an athlete. *sigh*

Q. When you were No. 1, were there extra mental pressures? We always talk about your physical, sure, but were there mental pressures?

RAFAEL NADAL: If you are No. 1?

Q. When you were No. 1, yes.

RAFAEL NADAL: No, less. No, no. Sure, no not. For me, I never thought about that. Probably I was more relaxed when I was No. 1, because I won a lot in that year. I won Australia not Australia well, I was in I was No. 1 when I won Australia; I won Olympics; Roland Garros; Wimbledon.

So I was very relaxed, because nothing to I won a lot, and that gets a lot of pressure out.

No. Yes. Well maybe. No. I’m sure this time!

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. In London you said you were not at your best tennis, but you said that with practice you would be able to reach this level, your best, that is, but you’re not far from this.

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, let’s face it. I don’t know if I’m playing my best tennis today, but I think I have almost reached this level for several months. I don’t think that much has changed. I feel good this year. And what are you referring to? 2008?

I don’t know. I think I’ve played really well throughout the year here. That’s true, that’s not yet my best tennis. But if you look at the season in general, I think that my level is more or less the same. My level is good, and I’ve worked hard on this.

I’ve always practiced, believing that I could improve. Every day I practice, every match I play, I focus very much on the aspects I have to improve so as to reach the level I’d like to reach.

Then I try and reuse this experience during the matches I play. That means you have to practice a lot and gain confidence. I think that I have worked hard for a long period of time. And then, you know, when we work a lot, when we practice a lot, when we’re very positive, when we’re highly motivated, then after a while things go on nicely.

If it’s not nicely, at least you’re satisfied because there’s nothing you could reproach yourself with.

So…try prepare and try your hardest. (And eat a lot of french fries.)

Q. What do you think about this very rainy day? Do you think we would need to have a roof, just like they have at Wimbledon, so that we’re less subject to weather conditions?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, rainy days happen. Everybody was probably bothered. You were bothered. I was staying in the cloak rooms and the match was canceled. Then it rained again, and I was bothered. I didn’t know if I had to stay or if I would practice later during the day.

But then we thought we will have a rest. It was not easy, because I’m not used to doing this. Then they covered the court. It’s better for the players. It’s better for TV channels, as well. So yes, I would say I’m in favor of a roof.

Oh, so he still had to stick around for a hope at a practice opportunity? That sucks.

Q. I’d like to pick on this question. Would you like Roland Garros to stay in Paris? Would you like to move?

RAFAEL NADAL: Where?

Q. Would you like Roland Garros to stay here?

RAFAEL NADAL: As I said before, I think that Roland Garros has a long standing history, which is here. I think that Roland Garros should remain here, because here we can breathe the history of tennis within these walls.

It’s very important, whereas if we move elsewhere, maybe the site is going to be bigger, we’re going to lose part of our soul.

Tradition is important – check!

Q. The other day when you played a match you said, I didn’t really play well. What do you think about today and how you played?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I played better today. I played better than the other day. I didn’t really play badly. I wouldn’t say this was an exceptional match. It was a normal type of match.

I didn’t have enough rhythm. He was a lefty, and he wanted to change the pace with dropshots. But sometimes I had the impression I was playing well or very well, mainly when it was 3 2 during the second set. And then 6 2, 3 0, I think I was playing very well during all of these games. But then at the end I lost my concentration.

Wait, didn’t we already cover this? Oh, in English. When I see how repetitive the pressers are day after day, I forget they are repetitive in the same day!

Q. During the first match you had opportunities to break. You only lost or dropped four points on your serve. During the second set it was 1 1; you could have broken then. What did you feel? What about your serve?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think I changed my serve strategy at that moment. We discussed this in the locker rooms before we started getting on the courts.

I thought I should have more first serves in, and then if it’s a second serve, I should hit the ball more strongly so as to dominate.
With the second serve it’s always more complicated. So I think I have a good percentage of first serves, and I should put some spin into the ball so that the ball would bounce very high. And also, I should work on my forehand.

I was gaining confidence except for the very last two or three games. But anyway, otherwise it was okay.

One of the few times I’ve heard him be very specific about strategy.

Q. When the press conference started, Hewitt and his opponent Istomin were playing their fifth set. What do you think about this?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know Istomin at all, and I’ve never played against him. I’ve not seen him play. I know he’s on the tour. I know he’s played really good matches, but I’ve not seen him play.

Whereas Hewitt, I know him well. It’s the fifth set, so that means Istomin is really playing well. That’s an excellent match for him. We know Hewitt. He’s a very dangerous guy and he plays at a very high level. He’s going to do his best to win, of course.

Well, you got Hewitt. It would be nice if that went as well as last year.

Q. What do you think about the balls and the court compared with two years ago?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the balls are the same. I think so. Monte Carlo, Barcelona, all this was okay. I don’t know about Barcelona, but Madrid and then Monte Carlo. There’s a difference, a slight difference.

But let’s be careful about one thing: Let us not change the balls between the tournaments. It makes things more difficult for us. At least this time any matches played on clay were played with the same balls. Well, if it’s a sunny day, that’s okay. The problem is that when it’s wet, the balls are heavier.

No changing the balls! (And no wet heavy balls either)

Q. Can you tell us what you think about your opponent today? He’s Argentinian, and he’s a bit more than 20, I think. He played here during the second round against you, Zeballos. What do you think about him? Do you think he has great potential?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think he’s 24. I think he’s probably 44, so he’s well ranked. He’s not been on the tour for a very long time, so he’s improved quite a lot, and we’ll see what happens in the future.

His forehand is really good. He serves well, as well, and this is very important on quick courts. He’s got a very good slice, as well. He’s a very good all court player.

And despite him being an Argentine, he says he prefers hard courts – you could see that in his game too.

12 Responses

  1. fay says:

    I do find that most Argentines are good on h/c’s (del potro, Nalbandian for example) so this is no surprise here. Its interesting that Rafa is so open with some of his stragedies normally he would give nothing away. I like the way he respects tradition, thats nice, it was indeed a tricky match today and when he got broken in the 7th game was it? I couldn’t watch and decided to switch off, he hasn’t found his A game yet, he isn’t looking as comfortable as I would like, his serve % isn’t as good as it should be either, still a loss of 7 games isn’t too bad but I am thinking that he could be doing alot better, nervous times! for Rafafans.

    • sharon says:

      Um. His first serve percentage was 80%. You’d better not be holding your breath waiting for it to get better!! :D

      Why don’t we just cheer for all the success that he’s having and not expect him to be perfect? He’s playing well, as well as he has to. It’s good that he’s still got a few more levels in him that he can strive for when the going gets tough.

      I love watching these early matches and just enjoying what he does on the tennis court without frazzling over whether he’s going to win or not. It’s easy to see that the toughest challenge he’s had so far is whether or not someone might be able to break his serve. There’s never been any doubt that he’s going to win.

      • fay says:

        Thanks for the optimism sharon, no I didn’t worry about him losing and its true he shouldn’t exert himself early on but today he might or will have to against the gritty Hewitt.

  2. Nana says:

    Repetitive questions didn’t annoy me as much as the serve-and-volley question that was asked by someone who didn’t see the match! Stupidest question ever. Or at least try to phrase it like a general question about S&V!

    I went to journalism school and was never taught this way.

    On another note, his answer in Spanish about the moving of RG sounds almost poetic!

    • Inés says:

      I would like have seen the face of Rafa when he was questioned about the balls, priceless I bet, LOL

      • Atch2 says:

        Yeah, why don’t they show clips of the parts of the presser we want to see his facial expressions/reactions? like the ‘balls’ question, the ‘Fed quote’, and the pushy ‘serve and volley’ question by a reporter who didn’t have the courtesy to see Rafa’s match before coming to the presser for it.

  3. CC says:

    You think he was playing with his phone? ;)

    That presser is faaar too long for me to read right now, but Rafa sure looks amazing in that pink tee. And when he’s stroking himself…his face, I mean…I nearly die… So. Hot.

    • Atch2 says:

      That face when he looks up is classic Rafa.

      Freshy showered Rafa, stroking himself. Yes, it’s been a good day.

      • CC says:

        I believe that would be my definition of a good day too… :D

        Oh, and Rafa won today as well!

  4. ang says:

    I though there was something off about this statement when I read it on the RG website… but I have been up since 5 am and it’s almost noon so it didn’t click till I saw this: ““He’s a young player” who’s 2 years older than you!”… lol…

    • Ramara says:

      Young in tennis years? Ability? Rafa had to ask how old Mina is in his last presser. Guess he doesn’t check out ages.

      Love it that Rafa’s wearing bright pink again.

  5. Rafangel says:

    FLOVE Rafa’s response to FedHead’s previous comments. Would love to see a vid of him handling those diplomatic questions. He’s also rather poetic about RG (and loved his ‘sunshine is like happiness’ quote recently, too). The man is pure class (our man).