Beijing: Quarterfinal presser
Q. Rafa, what was going through your mind after you were in the second set, a set down, and you were 4-1 down. What was going through your mind at that point?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s true that probably in the 4-1 was the moment that I was closer than the rest of the match, because with the 3-0 I saved a 15-40 with two good points.
And then in the 3-1 I played a good game in the return. I finally lost the game, but I was closer to have the break and playing with a little bit more rhythm in my legs.
But I was very lucky. 4-1, I think he had another break point in the 4-1, he had? So you can imagine. 3-0, 15-40, 4-1, break point against. It’s true that I think I played a good forehand down the line in the 4-1, break point against.
But then always the same: If you lose the second break you are dead. If you are only one break away, at the end of the match pressure is there, nerves are there. You try to put one more ball inside, try to find a little bit more, play a little bit more, and probably you going to have the chance. Convert the chance or not is another thing.
I needed a lot of ones in the 4-2 to finally have the break, but I did. And after that, I played better. It’s true that his level of tennis for long time in the match was very, very high.
Rafa, staring down competitive death since…well, probably since he was in the womb.
Q. Like you just said Fognini was playing pretty great out there. What did you need to do to turn things around in the second set?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s true in the first set I lost the first break with 40-15. Second break in the 4-1, another time 40-15 for me.
So even if the result was very easy, I felt that it’s because your opponent is playing great. He played unbelievable, in my opinion, for the first set and after the 3-Love.
But it’s something I did wrong, because I cannot be going 6-1, 3-Love. Too many mistakes in important points, my opinion, no? For example, double fault in 40-15.
When you are playing against an opponent that he’s playing well, the thing that you have to do is try to push him to the limit and try to make him play very well for a very, very long time.
That’s something that I was not doing for the first set and a half. That’s why the score went like this, because he was playing with big confidence and I was not bringing his game to the limit.
Then changed a little bit the situation. I played a little bit better, played with a little bit more rhythm, and he felt that he needed to play another shot to win the point.
And then the situation changed. But was too late. I was very lucky.
The last bit confuses me. He played better and changed the situation, but it was too late? Or Fognini also tried to change and it was too late?
Q. Do you find that players ranked 20, 30, 40, 50, that they’re capable of beating the top 5, say, more consistently now than before?
RAFAEL NADAL: If they can beat the top 5 players more consistently now than before?
RAFAEL NADAL: That’s the only way– yeah, exactly. The only way to see that is in the statistics. I’m not sure that’s happened the last couple of years.
Top 4, top 5 players were very, very solid for probably one of the– you know, the top four were one of the most solid players, the players who are losing less often than another generation in history. They are players that are losing less, in my opinion.
Let’s see the statistics and you will find the answer.
Hey, you know what? Let’s check facts instead of just randomly speculating! That sounds like a good idea.
Q. We saw you touching the left knee in the very first point and then asking for a medical timeout. Was that any explanation for the slow start? Was it more fear than pain?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, when something happens in a place that is sensitive for me, you get scared, first thing. Second thing, I felt pain at the beginning.
I don’t feel comfortable with my movements for all the match, but it’s true that I improved during the match. So that’s important. I finished the match with a little bit more confidence on my movements than what I had during the first set and– almost two sets.
But I really hope that it’s only a bad movement. Just hopefully it’s not nothing serious and I will be 100% ready for tomorrow.
But, you know, when something happened like this in the first point in the match, your knee, you know, the memory stays there and is very difficult to be 100% focused on the match because you are thinking about if I really did a bad movement or not.
I don’t felt power on the knee when I was running to the balls for long time in the match, but what’s very positive is I really was feeling better and better during the match. So if something very bad happening, going to be the opposite.
And if it was anything bad (which I don’t think it was), today’s super short match (thanks to Berdych’s retirement) will give him some more time to deal with it.
Q. Yesterday you went to the Summer Palace. How was it? It’s holiday. Everywhere is full of people.
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry.
THE MODERATOR: You went to the Summer Palace yesterday. How did you like it? You must have seen lots of people because it was a holiday yesterday. Was it crowded yesterday?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yesterday was too crowded. Was not the right day to visit, but is the only day that I really had to visit something in the city, something that I didn’t have the chance to visit before. I visited Forbidden City, Tiananmen. I want to go yesterday to the Great Wall, but travel was crazy they told me, so we changed at the last moment and we went to the Summer Palace.
It was very beautiful. It was a great experience. I love to know places and to know more about the cities that I visit. You know, the history of those places is important. It’s good to see things and have the information.
But was too much people. (Laughter.)
Oye, I hate having to deal with huge crowds when being a tourist. Hope he makes it to the Great Wall one day. (Heck, I wish I could make it there.)
THE MODERATOR: Chinese questions, please.
Q. What is your comment on the performance of the linesmen today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the performance, I played better two days ago than today, no doubt about that. But I was able finally to win. That give me the opportunity to play better tomorrow.
That’s what I going to try. That’s the most, or one of the most important things on tennis: win when you don’t play well. Because that gives you an opportunity to play good again next day and to change the situation.
The players who are in the top positions of the ranking, it’s because they are able to win when things are not going well. So I was able to fight, to change a little bit the dynamic of the match. I played a great match two days ago, and I hope to play again tomorrow very well. That’s what I going to try.
Heh – he totally either didn’t get the question or didn’t want to answer it.
Q. In semifinals, which is important for you, because if you win in semifinals and enter the finals, then you will go back to No. 1 in the world next week. What kind of special preparation will you have for this semifinals? Thank you.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you have any special preparation for a match, you start bad, because at the end, it’s another match. It’s not the last opportunity to me to come back to the No. 1. It’s something that doesn’t create me more pressure, doesn’t create me obsession for that.
It’s something that already happened in the past. If that happens again, it will be good, it will be special for me, but we’ll see.
I am going to have a very tough opponent in front. In the end, it’s another match. True, it’s a little bit more special for that circumstances, but nothing else.
Semifinals match of big tournament like Beijing, I going to try to be competitive and try to play my best tennis. If not, I going to have no chance to be through.
You know, is not the moment to think about the No. 1; is the moment to think about Berdych or Isner.
Isn’t he just…special.
Q. In the second set today during the break, seems that you don’t have very good communication with the ball boy. Can you tell us what’s going on between you and the ball boy today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing. Nothing with the ball boy. I didn’t have any problem I think.
But always the ball boys try to do the best as he can. It’s great to have kids around you. I love the kids in general, and I love to have kids on court. The good thing is today the umpire understand that if they went a little bit more slow than usual, I don’t have to be penalized for time.
Something that the umpire understand very well today. That’s all. Then if the ball boy goes a little bit faster or slower, for me it’s not one problem. If the umpire understand that, they can go as slow as they want. (Smiling.)
I love that he won’t talk bad about the kids. (Also, I love the Rafa in general.)
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports