Beijing: Pre-tournament presser transcript
A transcript of the presser Rafa gave before he started his campaign in Beijing has been posted on the ASAP Sports site:
Q. Good afternoon. Can you talk a little bit about how you’re feeling about the chance to reclaim the No. 1 title with a good performance this week?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s something that today I cannot think. I going to think about my game, try to find my right feelings on the practices, and then try to arrive competitive to the first round.
I don’t know what is exactly the result that I need to do to become No. 1, but the only way I can do it is playing my best.
I am going to think day by day, as I do always. I will see if I have that chance. I know that my opponent is unbelievable. He’s able to not lose many matches during the whole season. Will be very tough to become No. 1.
But if I am still playing the same way that I did the last couple of months, I hope to have my chance here or in the next few weeks.
But it’s something that not worries me today. Only thing that I am focus on is try to keep playing well.
One match at a time…until they add up to #1. ;)
Q. You spoke briefly about the current world No. 1. I just wanted to know how much you get motivated by him? And obviously, vice versa, do you think you both make each other better tennis players?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, at the end, the opponents, good opponents, I think during all my career I had great opponents that makes me improve my tennis all the time if I want to keep having chances to have success in the big tournaments.
I had Roger there; Andy; Novak; David Ferrer Berdych, a lot of great players. Roddick.
A lot of great players during my career that if you are not able to keep improving your level, your chances to keep winning and keep being in the top positions of the ranking going to be not big.
So last couple of years Novak has been very solid being No. 1, winning a lot of matches every year and competing for every important tournament.
Last year I didn’t have the rival, or better he didn’t have me like a rival because I got injury at half season. So I just competed against him half season and against the rest of the players.
So this year, even if I started a little bit later, I am completing a great season; I’m playing one of the best seasons of my career. That’s why I’m in the good position of the ranking and I had a great success in the important tournaments.
I’m hoping that the late start is actually helping him a bit at this point…not quite as much mileage on the body this year.
Q. My question is: It’s been a long time since last time you were here, right?
RAFAEL NADAL: 2009, I think.
Q. How do you like Beijing?
RAFAEL NADAL: I’m happy to be back. It’s true that it’s not this center court that I played, but in the other one I was able to win one of the most important things that I win in my career: Olympic Games, 2008. That was something that I will never forget.
So for me to be back in this great place is emotional. Just enjoy the experiences last couple of years. Last year I couldn’t came here because I was injury. Two years before I was playing in Tokyo. That was a good experience, too.
So it’s great to know different places, to experience different tournaments. Today I’m very happy to be back in a great tournament like is Beijing, a very important city.
I feel great, no? The people have been very nice with me after almost two years without came back to China. Chinese fans are being great. So just thank you very much to them for the support.
The air there looks awful – it’s white. I can’t see the sky in any of the pictures…and I don’t think it’s clouds.
Q. Talk about your winning streak in the North American season. You seemed almost invincible out there. What works so perfectly to make you so solid on hard court? Do you think you can carry that momentum over to here in Beijing?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s difficult to say. Normal thing is not, because normal thing is not win every match of your season on a surface like this one that the matches are close, the opponents are very good.
So normal thing is not maintain the level that I play at in North America in the three tournaments.
But I am going to try to keep playing well and work hard every day to be ready for the competition. If that happens, I hope to keep having chances to win a lot of matches, no?
But we’ll see. We’ll see what’s going on. It’s a very tough tournament. A lot of great players are in the draw here. That makes the tournament very tough from the beginning. That’s always a dangerous thing.
Always dangerous. (Does Rafa think any tennis match is non-dangerous?)
Q. Do you think the condition and the speed of coming back is better and faster than you expected?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, after the injury you never expect to be back and play I don’t know how many tournaments I played this year. I don’t know. All the finals. I only lost in Wimbledon in the first round.
So that’s just something that I never dreamed about. Because of that, I am in a good position today. But nothing is done. Remain a lot of tournaments on this season, important ones. If I’m not able to play very well, I will not finish in the position that you said.
I think he could say that in his sleep. Maybe he did.
THE MODERATOR: Chinese questions.
Q. You had a very good performance in the very beginning of the season. When compared with your performance before the injury, what is the single largest change in your fitness now?
RAFAEL NADAL: (In English.) I think before the injury last year I was playing at a great level, a fantastic one.
I felt great since the beginning of the season of 2012, and then I get injury. I came back and I was able to keep playing at a very high level.
Today I am happy that I am in the last few tournaments of the year and I’m able to keep playing. That was the main goal of the season: finish the season.
So I am close to do it. That’s the most important thing for me.
Finish the season and not have the season finish you. It’s a good goal.
Q. My question is a follow up. You have a very stable performance in the service game, but Djokovic said in US Open the reason why you have a very good performance this season is you have a better control of your serve. Do you agree with Djokovic?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am having a good success with my serve this season because I am playing very well from the baseline, too. My serve is not unbelievable; never was unbelievable. It’s only okay.
But if I am able to serve regularly at the right percentage and trying to find the right angles, then if I am playing well from the baseline and I can play the first ball with my forehand in a good position, then I have a big advantage.
What makes a difference is not the serve. The serve helps a little bit. It’s true that I served well in important points.
What makes a difference is I’m playing more aggressively and with very good rhythm on my legs and I am able to play with the right concentration for most of the time. That makes me solid on my serve.
I get tired of players and pundits putting a huge emphasis on aces. Yes, aces are nice and take a lot of pressure off, but one can have a very effective serve if one is clever in placement and follows up the serve well. In other words, what Rafa just said.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports