The transcript of Rafa’s post quarterfinal presser is up on ASAP Sports:
Q. That was some occasion, but perhaps not quite the match we were anticipating. How did you read it?
RAFAEL NADAL: I played great the first set. I played a fantastic first set, in my opinion. The second set was strange. The second set I think Roger didn’t fight as usual. Probably he had some problems and he didn’t feel enough comfortable to keep fighting.
But for myself I have to take the first set. The first set was a good match, my opinion. Both of us tried to play our best. I played much better than yesterday. My movements today were much, much better than what used to be yesterday, so very happy for that – especially after a long match yesterday, to be able to compete well next day.
What to say? Two weeks ago I didn’t know if I can be here, and tomorrow I will be in semifinals here. A lot of positive energy, and very happy.
Wonderfully positive energy. It’s amazing to me that he’s made the semis after being away this long. I’m also happy his knee held up playing a hard court match two days in a row.
Q. Can you talk for a minute about how it felt walking out there? You hadn’t been there for a while against Roger; it was a packed crowd. Did you have different or strange emotions walking out? How did it feel for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: In the end, you miss these moments this whole time, but play against Roger in any moment in any situation is special for what means this kind of matches, for what happened in the past, you know. All very, very important matches against him for our careers, you know.
This classic match is always special and means a lot to me to go on court to play against Roger.
It means a lot to your fans too.
Q. You moved very well today. Do your knees feel stronger as this tournament is going on? Do you have any more worries about your knees right now?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, is hard for me because you are asking me that every day and I am having an incredible results. It’s not easy for me to talk about that, seriously.
aka, STOP ASKING ME ABOUT MY KNEES! I wonder if he’d be happy to never hear the word “knee” for the rest of his life.
Q. Obviously after you beat Ferrer in Acapulco people said you’re back. Now you seem back at full strength and now you’re in a semifinals of a Masters. It seems to give evidence that you’re getting back to where you were before the seven months off. Do you agree with that? Do you think you’re close to all the way back?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am here so I am back on the tour. That’s the most important thing, no?
I go day by day as I did all my life, and that’s not gonna change. If the things are not working well, so change, but the things are working well don’t change, no?
I go match by match, practice by practice, and I try my best in every moment. We’ll see. I said you know, one of the first interviews after we decide to come back on the tour, I think I didn’t forget my tennis. I didn’t forget my tennis in seven months.
Important thing is be healthy. And if that happens and I’m able to practice as much as I can, as much as I want, probably that the comeback will be a little bit less difficult, no?
But is a big surprise for me have these results. That’s the true. Is for me a big surprise because I really was not able to practice a lot. I was able to practice just a little before the comeback.
It’s true that playing on clay give me a lot of positive feelings, but even playing on clay tournaments I didn’t practice a lot before every tournament.
Things go well. I am happy for that. Is a big surprise for me, but I just can say thank you.
It all sounds so easy when Rafa says it: step by step, bit by bit. I do hope he’s learning that maybe, just maybe he doesn’t need to practice as much and/or with as much intensity. That will help cut down the mileage he’s putting on his body.
Q. You have always spoken in such glowing terms of your friendship and the fact that Roger, you say, is the greatest player in tennis history. But in some ways does it surprise you when you look at the head-to-head record between the two of you that there is such a wide gap?
RAFAEL NADAL: That just a fact at the end. Is a positive fact for me, but that doesn’t change that he has much more tournament victories than me. He has more Grand Slams than me. In Masters 1000s we are close. I don’t know.
THE MODERATOR: Same.
RAFAEL NADAL: Same? So more than close. (Laughing.)
So that means his career the day of today is better than my one, and that’s the real thing. And if I think that I am better than him because I beat him I think 19 against 10, something like this, I will be very stupid and very arrogant.
I think this is not the case. (Smiling).
I wonder if he would ever say he’s better…if his record does ever exceed Fed’s. I still think he’d be very reluctant to say such a thing.
Q. When you miss something that you love for so long, do you appreciate it more when you come back? Can you talk about how much?
RAFAEL NADAL: I say the other day, no, the feeling just going on court and receive all the support that I am receiving every place that I am playing is something fantastic and amazing.
Probably when you are playing and playing every week, you know, that became something usual and normal, no? But when you are out for seven months and I come back and I had the feeling, that special feeling playing in clay court seen in Latin America, all the support that I had every time when I went on court and all the stadiums 100% full every day, every match, and the full support of the crowd is just amazing.
Be back in Indian Wells I always said is one of my favorite tournaments without any doubt. I really enjoy it always play here. I don’t know how many semifinals I am in a row here in this tournament.
Q. Eight, nine.
RAFAEL NADAL: 2006? Probably since 2006. So playing six, eight semifinals in a row in a hardcourt tournament, Masters 1000 when the best players of the world are playing. When you have tough matches since the first round, it’s amazing result for me.
I honestly didn’t realize he had a streak like that at IW…I need to pay more attention to stats, I guess. I’m so glad he’s feeling the love again. He deserves it.
Q. Congratulations. You really played well tonight. At the end of the match when you and Roger came to shake hands, it seemed like there were some words exchanged. Did he let you know anything how he was feeling? It seemed like there was something more than just a handshake. Did he say anything about how he felt?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. He told me he’s happy that I’m back. He just congratulate me and ask him for his back. He told me, No, I’m fine.
Q. So you asked him?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. That’s it.
That’s it. (But his back was clearly bothering him.)
Q. Outside of your knee, given that you have had very, very few bad loss in seven, eight years, why are you surprised when you’re successful? Given that you have hardly had any bad losses since maybe 2005, maybe a few, outside of the knee, why are you surprised when you have success and you play well?
RAFAEL NADAL: Today?
Q. Any day. Because you’ll often say I’m surprised to be in this position or…
RAFAEL NADAL: I never say I’m surprised to be in position. For example, last year I practice amazing well and I start the season playing fantastic in every tournament.
But this year the situation is completely different. I was outside of the competition for seven months.
Is not the case that during these seven months I was able to practice a lot. I practice very little. I am back. I played one final, two titles, one other semifinals.
If I’m not surprised it’s because I consider myself very good, and this is not the case. (Smiling.)
I consider myself another player that had a lot of success during the last eight years, but that doesn’t mean that I gonna have in the next year another success.
So especially when I’m coming from tricky situation.
His humility is amazing…sometimes a bit weird it its extremity, but it’s a huge part of what makes him him.
Q. I just wondered if you still regarded Roger as your No. 1 adversary, No. 1 challenge.
RAFAEL NADAL: Today?
Q. No, in general.
RAFAEL NADAL: In general. But today, the day of today my No. 1 adversary?
RAFAEL NADAL: Neil, today I cannot talk about adversaries. I can talk about myself. I am seriously not competing against nobody in particular today. I am competing about be 100% healthy another time and enjoy tennis what that’s happening today, another time.
And then I’m not sure how the things gonna go in the next few months. Hopefully well. But if the things goes well and I am able to practice every tournament from here to Wimbledon, we’ll see if I am able to talk about which kind of rivals I will have.
Today I cannot say. I cannot say I put myself in the group of top 4, group of top 8, or the group of top 15, because I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the next month.
One match at a time; one practice at a time.
Q. Apart from getting the win tonight, what pleased you most about your performance, and can you talk about your next opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: What pleased me most was my movement tonight was much better than yesterday. I played longer than yesterday. I had good feeling on my forehand, even if I had few mistakes with my backhand in the second set. The match became a little bit strange in the second.
But in the first set I played very well with my backhand. That give a lot of points for me in the final of Acapulco.
Sometimes today I am not able to play all the shots with my forehand that I used to be because I am not that fast yet to do it. That’s why the backhand today is very important for my game.
So if I am able to hit well, like I did in the first set, you know, a lot of opportunities open for me in my game because I can hit cross. If my cross backhand goes close to the line then I have the rest of the court for my forehand, and that’s a big advantage.
Today that makes a big difference in my game.
I had wondered if he’s been working on his backhand in anticipation of not being able to run around to his forehand as often. I think the improved backhand can only help his game long-term.
Q. Can you talk about the next round against Tomas?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, sorry. Yeah, he’s playing better and better every year. He played final in Marseilles, final in Dubai, and now he’s semifinals here without losing a set.
He’s doing great. We’ll see. I gonna try my best. I gonna try to keep playing well and try to fight as I did today, as I did yesterday, and we’ll see if I am able to compete well and enjoy another match.
Every match is fantastic for me to have the chance to keep playing, and I gonna enjoy the match against another top, top player. Will be another important test for me, and I gonna enjoy.
I hope you enjoy the freaking hell out of it, Rafa.