Q. I have a different question for you. Everyone in tennis loves Roger, respects Roger. He is said to be the best of all time. Yet two out of every three times you play him, you win. You’ve won six of the last seven times. Who’s a better player?
RAFAEL NADAL: You like this. You are focused on the Roger thing, eh? (laughter.)
Yesterday with the clay. Today with the if somebody says I am better than Roger, I think this person don’t know nothing about tennis. That’s my answer.
Oh yeah, a question about Federer – that’s different *rolls eyes*
Q. How so?
RAFAEL NADAL: Why?
RAFAEL NADAL: So you don’t know nothing about tennis.
You see the titles of him and you see the titles of me? It’s no comparison. So that’s the answer. Is difficult to compare Roger with me now, because he has 16 Grand Slams; I have 6. Masters 1000, yeah, I have more than him. But for the rest of the things the records of Roger is very, very almost impossible to improve.
Heee! That might be the most abrupt I’ve ever seen him be to an interviewer – and more freaking power to him.
Q. Still, it is interesting when you step out on the court…
RAFAEL NADAL: What?
Q. Still, it is interesting, Rafa, when you step out on the court…
RAFAEL NADAL: (Through translation.)
Sorry, I interrupt you. What’s the question? Sorry.
What was he getting translated or talking to the translator about? In my mind, he was asking him, “who let this idiot into the press room.”
Q. The question is: Still, for the fans, it is interesting when you step on the court with him, you usually win.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I am No. 2 in the world for five years, so I think I am a good player, too. Sure, I can beat him. No. 2 can beat No. 1. That’s the thing. It’s not a lot of difference between No. 2 and No. 1 or between No. 1 and No. 10. That’s the tennis, and the tennis very close, the level, all the time.
But I can beat him, yes. The same time, the thing is I beat him a lot of times on clay. I beat him on other surfaces, too. But the most of the times I beat him on clay, so I played with him more times on clay than on the rest of the surfaces.
Psst. Rafa, only surfrace you have a losing head-to-head with him on is grass.
Q. How do you feel at this point in the tournament? Do you feel like you always feel at the French Open coming into the second week, physically and mentally?
RAFAEL NADAL: Physically I’m fine. I don’t have any problems, so I happy for that.
Mentally, too. I am with a lot of allusion to play well and to play a good tournament here. And I am doing, you know. I defend my points already, so I think now is all to win.
It’s bonus time from now on out points wise. That’s got to feel good.
Q. You will follow the World Cup for football, especially Spain?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure. I love the football, yeah? I know we won 3 2 today.
And now we enter the footie portion of the presser.
Q. Spain is your favorite to World Cup?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me, yes. But for the rest, for the Brazilians, it’s gonna be Brazil, and for Argentines, Argentina. That’s football, no? And gonna be difficult to say something.
I think we have, my opinion is we have the best team, but in one competition that all decides in one match. Gonna be very difficult to say something, because just little thing can change the rest of the match.
So, take things one match at a time, Rafa? Would that be what you suggest?
Q. If you could predict the opening round against Switzerland, what will the score be?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, here we are better. (laughter.)
Not in tennis, but here we are better. That is no comparison to.
Wasn’t this covered in his ESPN interview yesterday? Oh, yes. It was.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.
Q. On the subject of football, on Monday Mourinho is going to sign to join the Madrid team. What do you think about him and his charisma?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I’m no one here to talk about other people’s choices. As a trainer, he’s always been a good trainer. He’s always done a good job. We’ll see.
And also, I think this is simply a follow up of what has been taking place in the last few years.
*nods and acts like she knows what’s going on*
Q. Can we go back to tennis? We’ve seen you happier here than when you were on the court. You seemed to be fairly tense. You weren’t happy?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was a little bit worried. The weather conditions weren’t very good. I don’t know. The weather conditions can make for a difficult match.
I saw the clouds gathering. When I walked on the court, I looked at the sky, and I kept looking at the sky because I really wanted to wrap up this match. I did not want to continue playing this particular match tomorrow.
I really want to have tomorrow off to take a break, and also to work. In the first set I believe I played well, then I believe I had a bit of a dip. The second wasn’t so good, but the third one, until 6 3, I played well, really well.
I had to play against the wind, I played the whole match really well. I was very comfortable with my forehand, my backhand, but there was the wind. Because of the wind, you know, Hewitt takes the ball really early, and so the ball came to my side fairly low.
Sometimes I had trouble catching the ball because I was playing against the wind. But those were my main difficulties. In spite of all these difficulties, I felt fairly comfortable.
I didn’t think he looked too grumpy – just a few times. He was definitely nervous at first, though. I could really see his nerves pre-match and during that first game.
Q. Such a wet day and rain threatening, are you still with your 25 25 strings, or are you going to change?
RAFAEL NADAL: I play 5.5; 26 in Madrid; 25 here. I decided to go for 25.5. I did ask myself the question before the match, but already I had already four racquets at 25.5, and I thought, I’m not going to change everything.
Not going to change everything…that sounds about right.
Q. (Question off microphone.)
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, the balls were heavier, and therefore, the fact also that there was no sun, that the courts were slightly wet. This all made for heavy conditions. The balls were heavy, so these conditions were not favorable.
Because the spin that I like to give to the ball simply does not work in those conditions, and Hewitt plays really flat.
Let’s hope for some sunshine and dry conditions Monday.
Q. Several times we saw you looking at your racquet.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I only looked at my racquet once, because I took a backhand and I hit the ball. I hit the racquet, sorry, against the ground, and I thought maybe I had broken it. I checked it, but it wasn’t broken.
I looked at the frame simply to check for a crack. In Spanish I don’t know how to say this, but in my language, in Mallorcan, we say cruit (phonetic.) It’s a kind of a crack. (laughter.)
A very specific kind of crack, I guess.
Q. Can you say a few words regarding your next opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, he’s top level opponent. I think in 2008 he went really deep into the tournament. The last time I played him he was very difficult. He’s a clay specialist. He has recently beaten he has just beaten Ljubicic, so he is quite confident.
It’s going to be very difficult, and it will also be a test for me to check my level of tennis.
Yes. Your last (well, only match per the ATP site) was a bit tough, but you still won 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the 2008 French Open.
Q. Three Spaniards reaching the fourth round this level in the tournament. Is that a surprise for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, it was a surprise, the fact that Juan Carlos lost. I could not watch his game, so I can’t really make any judgments. But I’m quite surprised that he lost. I saw him he lost the first few sets, and I saw him sort of coming back into the match, but apparently he didn’t come back.
And also, I think that David played in a Kamikaze way, and it was difficult for him to stop on time. David played too flat. As I said, the weather conditions today are not favorable. He had a very good serve. That, I noticed.
David was rushing and not showing confidence in his game. It was sad.