The transcript from Rafa’s pre-tournament presser has been posted on the ASAP Sports site.
Q. Hello Rafa. I would like to know if from zero to 100% how do you feel? Which percentage to you place on your game right now? Do you see it possible to reach whole conditions in Roland Garros?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s complicated to analyze in which condition I am. You really don’t know when you’re 100% ready. Each day is a new day. I do what I can day after day and I try to have better feelings each day. That’s the history of my career, all of the career.
So I cannot analyze which percentage. I think I can play better than what I have until now. The results are difficult to get better. The game in the two tournaments where I played in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona could be better, yes.
But here we’re to keep on trying to do better and keep on fighting to have the opportunities to be competitive.
And, well, no, you know, I don’t feel to play much better than what I am after so much time without training or competing or anything. For me it’s a great surprise to have had such great results so far, so keep on working day after day.
Can you say what percentage you are functioning at today? I don’t think I could put an exact figure on things. Why do they always ask him that?
Q. I would like to know what you think about the draw. You could face in the first round with Paire and in quarterfinals with David Ferrer. What do you think about that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we will see who I face on first round. The draws are always complicated. Even more when you play a tournament where we have the best players in the world there is no easy draw.
If you manage to player a high level, well, the draws seem to be less tight. But if you’re not playing good, there doesn’t seem to be a draw that’s minimally acceptable.
We have to play, and we don’t know who it is. Could be Benoit or someone else. It’s always difficult matches, and I hope to be well-prepared and to be competitive up there.
Could be Benoit, could be occasional practice partner Joao Souza.
Q. I’ve seen you training well also in front of a really big audience here in Madrid. How responsible do you feel here in Madrid? Do you like the pressure, that positive atmosphere that you have here at home?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s always a reason to be happy for me to play at home. It’s reason for me to be happy and motivated.
Pressure, I don’t have more pressure here than anywhere else. It’s just another tournament. I like to play at home. I like to feel it.
I like the feeling of playing here, playing in front of my people here, my audience. The more matches that I win, the more time I will have to feel that feeling.
Talking about something else, you know, in my case what I ask of myself is always as much as possible. Whether I play here, in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Indian Wells, Acapulco, doesn’t matter. The main goal is always the same: Doing it as best as possible.
I don’t feel more pressure because I play at home. It’s exactly the opposite. I say thank you to the people who support me here in the training sessions and the matches and even afterwards.
It’s simply this feeling. There are a lot of feelings over here, and I feel really good. It’s complicated to forget all the people who support me. Over here I had some really, really good moments here and good feelings.
I’m glad to know you like to feel it, Rafa.
Q. Last year you complained a little bit about the blue clay, and some of your colleagues, too. How do you feel this year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, very good. The courts this year fortunately are really good. I think they are great. The only thing I can say is thank you to the tournament, you know, for the money that they have invested to have the highest quality courts in here.
I think that obviously the court last year was not up to the level that we needed. It was not prepared to be a competitive court.
But the courts are impressive this year. Obviously the courts of the year before were better than the courts of last year, but they were not really great.
In Madrid, we have the problem of the dry climate, so it’s very difficult to have the clay that settles down properly, a clay that’s the same as in other places.
I think this year we have managed to have good clay here. It’s great, and the courts are to the highest level. The courts cannot be better.
So I think from the side of the players we can only say thank you.
I think that the audience will also say thank you for that.
He’s been praising these courts all over the place. They are either really, really good or someone’s twisting his arm. I hope it’s option 1.
Q. I wanted to ask you a question about the altitude here in Madrid. What do you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the same as always. But I think this year is having a clay that is settled down better. The bounces are better. You know, there are not so many irregular bounces. It’s less complicated.
The altitude is always the same. We always have this issue. It’s always complicated for all of us. Maybe a little bit more for players like me that we are used to playing at sea level.
But I’m not going to lie. I’ve had better results in other tournaments that we have played at sea level than perhaps Madrid. I played two finals here. I won one — oh, sorry, I lost two and won one. Sorry.
The results have been really good here. I cannot say that it’s not a good place for me, because I think it’s not that way. Think that I play well here in Madrid. Even more here with the altitude, well, I think it can be compensated with the support of all the others that I have here.
So to all the people there: cheer enough to make up for the altitude!
Q. Your Uncle Toni told us a couple of days ago that his opinion is that in clay tournaments you should rank first or second always. Do you think you should always have that status on clay courts given your results?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, not really. I think that it’s a much more deep issue. The ranking shows who are the seeded he players are. The seeded players historically have been there to protect the tournament, to protect the players, that they’re going to be fights against the best players on the first rounds.
Well, if I am not talking about rankings. It’s not about me. If a ranking should make you drop so quickly because of an injury. So it’s not a matter to argue today. The players that are in front of me are there because they have been playing better than me.
Well, in fact they have played. I haven’t played; I haven’t trained either. If they were not injured and I have been injured, well, you know, with a handicap, with the format of the rankings that we have currently, good for them for not being injured.
The problem is mine.
And we know how determined and good you are at solving problems, Rafa.
Q. Apart from you, who do you see that could be a winner in this edition of the Mutua Madrid Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don’t see myself as winner. Not me really. Before starting a tournament I don’t see– feel myself as a winner. I just feel myself competitive and I just want to give myself the opportunity to be able to fight and to be in a good position to fight until the final rounds.
But, well, from here to what will come, we still have a long way to go. Obviously you ask me and I’m going to tell you, the same as you think. The ones that are always up there to win before starting a tournament are the candidates.
Afterwards, this is sports and anything can happen. Luckily, this is the good thing about the sport.
No, no no. Don’t EVER say he can win it. He can be doing well enough to give himself chances to win, but that’s sooooooo different from saying he can win. (Oh, Rafa…never change.)
Q. In a couple minutes there is going to be a moment of silence for Brad Drewett. Will you have a message?
RAFAEL NADAL: Moments like that are not for messages. They’re moments to be sad for all of us who know him as a partner after so many years working together, working for the sport, well.
You know, this is what happens in this world. It’s a disgrace. These things happen. We cannot control it. We cannot do anything.
The only thing we can do is say thank you for everything he had done for our sport, all the support, and all the good things he has done these years to help us and to help us to have a better sport.
I just give him all the support from here to the family and all his beloved and close friends. I think he was a very loved person inside our circuit. Yeah, it’s a sad moment for all of us.
Yeah, that’s all.
A very difficult thing to talk about in a non-native language. For example, the word “disgrace” – I’m wondering if he means more of…it lacks grace, it’s not pretty.
Q. I wanted to ask you with this court and the altitude, do you think your game is more or less the same as Djokovic, Federer, or Murray?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you know, my game with Djokovic, Murray, or Federer in any court, you know, you have to ask as much as possible from yourself. Either if you play at sea level or altitude, they’re really difficult matches.
We’re not going to analyze if it’s because of altitude or whatever. When you’re playing against the best players of the world, wherever you play doesn’t matter. It’s a match. Whether your perfect or not — you’re going to lose if you’re not in perfect condition. Let’s be real. It’s not an issue of altitude. It’s an issue of playing to your highest level.
Only if you are doing that you have options to compete against them and to be able to do it well. They’re the best players, and these type of matches, the people that win it are the ones that are playing at the highest level.
I don’t get the question at all. His game is the same as everyone else’s because they are at altitude?
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports