Montreal: Semifinal presser transcript

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

A transcript from the presser after Rafa’s 6‑4, 3‑6, 7‑6(2) defeat of Djokovic is up.

Q. You served very aggressive in the first game. You returned aggressively. You played the first couple points in the tiebreak aggressively. Was it your plan to dictate early every chance you could get?

RAFAEL NADAL: I said yesterday the only chance to win against Novak, the only tactic is play very well. To play very well, I have to play aggressive. If not, I cannot play very well in this kind of surface. And I did. I played a very high level tonight, I think. I played with the right decision in the important moments.

And, yes, the serve worked well during the whole night. And the shots from the baseline, I tried to stay very close to the baseline, go inside when I had the chance. Against Novak, you cannot lose the court in no one surface, but especially a surface like here.

So that’s what I tried. More difficult thing is not try, is do it. Today I had the right feelings.

The right feelings, you say? Tried to stay very close to the baseline, you say? Oh yes, you say…and you did. You really, really did.

Q. Today you hit the forehand very aggressively, often down the line. I learned when you started playing tennis you hit it with two hands. How many years did it take for you to be comfortable attacking with one hand?

RAFAEL NADAL: Not much. No, I changed at the age of 10, so was early. At age of 11, I won the championship of Spain, Under‑12. So I was one year less and I won with one hand. Didn’t take a long time.

He’s a quick learner.

Q.Wasn’t difficult for you to make the change?

RAFAEL NADAL: All the changes are not easy. But when you are a kid, everything is a little bit less difficult, all the changes. You can adapt better.

Yeah. Change gets really hard as you get older. Often feels impossible as you approach 50. Not that I’d know anything about that…

Q. What is it about the rivalry between you and Novak that brings the best out of both of you?

RAFAEL NADAL: What makes these kind of matches happens is the passion for the game, the illusion to be better player. And I said the other day, no, what makes these special matches between me and Novak, is true that we don’t play exactly the same way, but one is not here and another here. At the end we play both from the baseline. We try to control the point from there. We push each other to the limit of our tennis.

That makes possible these kind of matches when both of us, we are playing at a good level.

The most amazing thing isn’t that they push each other to their limits…but that they do it for hours at a time. (Oh, that sounds sporny.)

Q. The stadium was pretty loud tonight. Can it be any louder tomorrow? Were you at all bothered during the match today?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, for me is not a problem, no? The crowd here knows about tennis. They always act the right way even if there is a Canadian there. I think is great for the tournament, is great for the crowd, and is great for the tennis in general have a local player here in the final, no?

He’s playing well. Tomorrow will be a big match for him, but for me too. So gonna be a very tough one. He’s playing great. He had a great victories this week. He will come to the final with big confidence. Will be a very big challenge for me.

Wonder if planned on pointing if Raonic touched the net…

Q. Last time you met Milos, it was on hard court in Tokyo 2011. How will it be different this time, especially in front of his home crowd?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I think in 2011 he came back after an injury, so was not the ideal situation for him. Tomorrow probably it is the ideal situation for him.

I play well tonight. That’s a confident victory for me to play the final. Is an important one for me tonight. But that’s not change. Tomorrow I have an important final, too. I want to be ready for that. My mind is already thinking about the final of tomorrow.

Gonna rest and try to be at my 100%.

If you weren’t 100%, you sure hid it well.

Q. You’ve beaten him three times already. What is the key to beating him? Does the serve cause you any trouble?

RAFAEL NADAL: The serve of Milos cause trouble to everybody. He will play aggressive. He will serve well because he always serve well.

Important thing against him is try to be very consistent with my serve and then if I have an opportunity on the return, try to convert it, try to make it. That’s the only thing that I can do. Try to play aggressive tomorrow another time.

There’s that try and did thing again (isn’t hindsight fun?).

Q. The first time you played Milos, you won 6‑4, 6‑4. Afterwards you had nice things to say about his game. Did you think he would reach the top 10 so quickly?

RAFAEL NADAL: Even if he lose tomorrow, he’s top 10?

Q. When you played him, did you think he would be that high?

RAFAEL NADAL: I said the same the other day, no? When you serve like Milos serve, you have a big advantage. So then if you are able to improve your game from the baseline, to play the right way the important points, the advantages you have is very big.

You know that if you do the things well, you will be on the tiebreak. Play tiebreak with that serve, I don’t want to be in that situation.

Raonic has improved, but he still has work to do. His tactical thinking on the court especially.

Q. Last time you were in the final in Montréal was 2005 against Agassi. Since that moment you’ve had some injuries. What do you think is the biggest change in your game since 2005?

RAFAEL NADAL: What’s my biggest change?<

Q. In your game since you played Agassi here.

RAFAEL NADAL: I played great against Agassi here in 2005.

You know, I am able to play more consistent on hard court than what used to do in 2005. I improved my game on grass. I improved my game on clay probably, too, even if I win in that moment. I think I improve in general. During the years you lose a few things, so you have to improve some things if you want to continue to be at the top.

One must evolve – small changes and adaptations over time. It’s easy to think a player’s game hasn’t changed much….until you look at old footage.

Q. What are some things you think you lost?

RAFAEL NADAL: Probably the movement was better in 2005 than what is today. Probably the shots not.

The movement was faster, I’m not sure if his anticipation was…I think his experience has improved that a lot. So it does balance a bit.

Q. Considering the very high level of tennis you played today, did you expect to play that well that quickly after the month off?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I know when you arrive here after one month off, when you play in a Masters 1000, hard court, a fast surface, you can go out in the first round. I accept that that was a possibility.

The real thing was completely different. I started this important part of the season with a big result for me. Be in the final is amazing. Be in a final of a Masters 1000 is amazing for me. Especially beating the best player of the world, Novak, tonight, is a big result for me. Very happy for that.

Tomorrow is an important match. For me win another Masters 1000 is a big illusion. But I know that anything can happen. If I lose tomorrow, anyway I will be very happy the way that I played and the result that I had this week.

He’s so much better at coming back right away from some time off these days. It used to take him quite a while to get going. I wonder what it is? More experience? More confidence in his game? Less pressure on himself thanks to what he’s already accomplished in his career? A combination of some or all of those things?

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Also, some video from a Spanish portion of the presser:

Posted by diegoamuy.

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5 Responses

  1. Ds says:

    Remind me again, what does rafa mean by “illusion”? Intention. Wish?

  2. Caroline says:

    miri, on your last commment, i would say that the time off makes him realize how much he miss and needs competition. And it brings him full of passion and hunger to win. With a rested knee :)

    This week was a dream, i live at 5 minutes from the stade. I had a «pic-nic» in the park with the kids this afternoon, seeing the match on screen, hearing the crowd on the other side. Fabulous weather. Everything perfect. My favorite won, sorry Milos.

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