Interview: “My generation has been dominant in tennis”
A few days ago, a short interview with Rafa was posted to sinembargo.mx. Once again, we have Genny to thank for the translation.
by Ignacio Encabo as translated by @genny_ss.
Rafael Nadal: “My generation has been dominant in tennis”
Madrid, Sep 16 (dpa) – The Spaniard Rafael Nadal is confident that tennis will remain the same when the “Big Four” stop competing, but admits that his generation marked an era of dominance in the sport.
“The present generation has been dominant, regular and of a very high level,” said the world number two in an interview with dpa. But “tennis without Federer will go on being tennis (…) It will be the same when Djokovic retires, when Murray retires, when I retire”, he added.
Nadal believes the number one is no longer a priority for Federer, he feels “happy” to be part of legendary confrontations as the ones he has had with Federer and Djokovic and fears that Spain, in the future, will not be able to maintain the level of tennis displayed in the past two decades.
dpa: You belong to one of the best generations in history.
Nadal: I cannot say that because I am involved in it. If I said that, it would be quite arrogant on my part. I’m not the right one to talk about that, but the other day I saw some statistics. In the last 34 majors, there has been only one winner out of the top four (Juan Martin del Potro at the U.S. Open 2009), the rest were from Federer, Djokovic, Murray or mine. In the previous 34, there had been 18 different winners. It means that the current generation has been dominant, regular and of a very high level.
dpa: The Djokovic-Nadal is the most repeated duel in the open era. If you could choose, Federer-Nadal or Djokovic-Nadal?
Nadal: I do not take any, they are completely different matches, approached differently. They are special matches. With Federer I live and have lived a rivalry since I started. We have lived beautiful moments in our careers, but with Novak, too. I’m happy to have been in the midst of these rivalries. And to have taken part of the matches I have played against them.
dpa: The change of racket in Federer, what is a symptom of?
Nadal: Of wanting to evolve, wanting to look for something else, some more help on the racket. I think it is something positive. We all do it, I also try new things, but not in competition. I always test in practice. I see it as something logical, it is not like you (journalists) have meant to imply, as a sign of weakness. It is about wanting to evolve.
dpa: But when things go well, you do not usually change
Nadal: Or [maybe] yes, the fact that things are going well does not mean they cannot go better. He tested in two tournaments where he had some margin to test, in which it was not vital to win or lose. And then returned to his usual racket.
dpa: One major in the last three years for Federer, can he return to the number one?
Nadal: Why not? You never know. I do not think that his primary objective is to return to number one. That is my feeling. His goal is to remain competitive to win tournaments that really fill him, more than being number one or not.
dpa: Can you imagine tennis without Federer?
Nadal: Yes, tennis without Federer will go on being tennis. It will have lost one of the most important ambassadors in its history, but it will be the same when Djokovic retires, when Murray retires, when I retire…
dpa: The current Spanish generation is the best of all time, but then there seems to be a void.
Nadal: Well, there it is Pablo Carreño, who is a good player. And he’s doing things right. But obviously we’re not going to fool ourselves. Having the generations of the past 15 or 20 years in a row, with players of the highest level who are fighting for the biggest tournaments is something that cannot be maintained forever. In the end, it is only logical.
dpa: Do you think it’s a problem of talent or work?
Nadal: It has to do with it all. We need to find talented people and people who are willing to work, people who do not get injured, people who find the right environment, people who have the right circumstances to succeed. Here we have the example of the United States. For many years it has been the “superpower” and now it does not [even] have one player in the top ten. And the United States is as large as Europe. And it is not the case that they do not have the resources to invest. It is not just a question of resources, it is not just working. It is necessary that a number of circumstances match, so that things go well. And in Spain we have been lucky that things have gone this way. We have tradition, schools and people, which means there is hope that future generations continue to be good. The downside is when the sport becomes just a business. For coaches, in this case.
dpa: Is that what is happening in Spain?
Nadal: I’m not saying that, I’m just saying that if that happens there is a problem. Because you don’t become a professional tennis player by training one hour and a half each day. An athlete reaches the top when he trains as much as it takes. If two hours are not enough, then you have to train for three [hours]. And if it rains on Wednesday, then you have to train on Sunday. And the people who see it as a business, take it as a job from Monday to Friday or Saturday. And if it rains, then bad luck.