A transcript of the presser Rafa gave after defeating Monfils 6-1, 6-7, 6-2 in the Qatar ExxonMobil final is up on the ASAP Sports site.
RAFAEL NADAL: Thank you.
Q. This is your 61st title and the first time you have won a tournament in the opening week of the year. How special does this feel for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always special. A title is always special in any week of the season. Beginnings of the season are important always because seems like every time you start another season, seems like you start from zero again. Every victory is important, and title today means a lot to me.
First time in my career that I am able to start the season with a victory. That’s always important. And playing much better tennis at the end of the tournament than what I did at the beginning.
One of my favorite things is to watch Rafa’s confidence/tennis improve match-to-match in a tournament. (It’s not so much fun when he takes a step back one match, but if he recovers by the next one, I can deal with it. Heh.)
Q. Congratulations. Gaël’s standard went up in the second set and the match became a very good one. Are you pleased with the level that your own tennis reached during that match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. I think I played my best match of the season –of the season, sure– my best match of the tournament. Yesterday I say that I played bad. I always try to be honest when I am talking, and yesterday I think I played a very bad game.
Today really happy the way that I played, especially after a day like yesterday. Is not easy to come back on court and play well, and I did today from the beginning. So that’s very important for the confidence that, you know, that if you need to play well you have the level there. So very happy for that.
I think I Gaël played a good match, especially after that first set. I lost the second set, and I really believed that I only played two bad shots in that game that I lost, the break, the first break in the second game. And I had two mistakes with my forehands.
But for the rest, I felt that I was playing well. I was playing fine. I had the chance to win the set. He played well the tiebreak. He served amazing. He didn’t give me a lot of opportunities during the tiebreak. Only the first point. I tried to go for the winner with a forehand and I had a mistake, but it was well played. I know that I had to go for the winners, and I did and I tried, and I played much more aggressive today than in the previous matches.
That’s important thing for me to finish the tournament with this feeling. In general, I am really pleased the way that I played that third set, too, first and third and second, but especially the first was very beautiful for me, but I understand at the beginning Gaël had a few mistakes, too.
Beautiful – not often you hear Rafa compliment his tennis that highly. I hope he finds more beautiful tennis this year.
Q. The type of tennis you played in the first set, is that the type of tennis you will be looking for in Melbourne?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, if I am playing the way that I played the first set, I think I will be very competitive, no? But is very –I think is not the right thing to analyze. Important thing is analyze a little bit more global things.
Important thing today is I played with high intensity on my legs going for the ball, playing more inside, having more times the control of the point, playing from inside the line, changing directions much better with the forehand, and I think I played very well with my backhand today, no, without many mistakes trying to play the loose court.
Sometimes with my backhand, when the opponent is pushing me, I am losing a little bit of court in every shot. Today that didn’t happen, and that’s very important for my game. The cross backhand, if I am hitting well, the cross backhand is very important shot for me because then open the court, no? Because then I have my forehand and I can let the opponent run to the other side. Then I have a big advantage when I am feeling right with the cross backhand.
So, for everyone who keeps saying, “doesn’t he know he needs to step in?” Of course he does. He knows it and knows it’s important. Knowing is easy. It’s the doing that’s difficult.
Q. The Australian Open comes so quickly at the beginning of the season. How difficult is it for you or any player to judge how ready they might be for it, and stuff like that, without having that much behind you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, at the end, the important thing is I was able to play five matches and win all five. That’s positive confidence. At the end, is a tournament. That doesn’t mean I’m going to play well in Australia, but it’s true that I prefer to arrive to Australia without feeling with a loss, no?
It’s tough because Australian Open is very early. Will be better to play that important one tournament like that a little bit later in the season. That’s the real thing. Because at the end, third tournament of the season or second tournament of the season, you are competing for one of the most important, so something a little bit strange. But in the end every year is same. Is nothing new for me and for us. I hope to have a good week of preparation there in Melbourne and try to adapt my game to that quick surface and hope to be ready for next Monday.
You gotta start somewhere…
Q. When you go to Australia and when you play in Melbourne Park, what is the most difficult thing for you? Yeah, we don’t know what the court pace is going to be this year, but are the temperatures difficult for you? Because it can be really cold one day and then boiling hot the next. What difficulties do you have there?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I personally like if it’s hot. Well, if it’s crazy hot, you know, for everybody is tough. Normally when the conditions are warm, the bounces on the ball are higher. The speed of the ball is a little bit, you know, quicker, and the ball flies more on the air. So that’s positive things for my game normally.
You know, always when you arrive to a tournament, different tournament, even if you are playing on hard, all the tournaments, outdoor hard, seems like are the same, but you know how different are every tournament. You know how tough is the adjustment from Montreal or Toronto to Cincinnati in just a few days.
So here and Australia good thing is I gonna have one week, and I don’t go there thinking about the adaptation of my game. I go in there thinking about the things that I want to keep practicing to be very competitive there. I want to keep practicing in the same way that I played today. I think that’s the right way.
If I am able to do it more often, my game will be at the higher level than what was today, because at the end, today is the first day that I did. So you are able to do it every day. Then became something natural, normal, and then the day that you are playing better is a little bit more. But that important to find the level of today like a normal thing.
Building up little by little. Let’s keep hoping every match builds a little and takes away none.
Q. All the other top guys are already down there. Do you fly tonight?
RAFAEL NADAL: No.
Q. How long will it take you to get climatized, do you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. But even if I lost here in the first round, I have the ticket for Sunday night I think is enough time for me. No, no, I feel that, you know, being so long time in the same place waiting for the tournament is something that few things are positive maybe and other things are negative. So I happy here. Tomorrow I have a day off here in Doha, and then I fly tomorrow night.
I going to arrive there on Monday evening. I going to practice Tuesday at 4:00. I going to have almost a week to practice well there, and I think hopefully will be enough to acclimate my game to Australia.
If your game is not adapted in six days is because you will never be adapted. That’s my feeling. (Smiling).
I love that he no longer rushes to the next place. He takes his time a bit more. I think this helps with the colm and, perhaps, means he gets a bit more sleep at the end of a tournament!
Q. How big is your house? Do you have enough space to put all these trophies?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I live with my parents, so I don’t have all the trophies in the same place.
I, you know, have different places, not the same house all the trophies. But always, you know, all the trophies are a good save, and every trophy is very important. At the end, all the players know how tough is to win titles, even if you are 250 tournament, 500 tournament, Grand Slam. Every tournament is tough to win at the end, because the winner is only one every week, and it’s great to have another title. Every title at the end is another one. So very happy for that.
I wonder if he has a house for each Roland Garros trophy yet…
Q. When you go to Australia knowing that you didn’t play there last year and you don’t have points to defend, does it mentally take a little bit of the pressure off?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Is the same, you know. The people are so focused on defending points and these kind of things, and for me really the pressure of defending points is zero, because the only pressure for me is try to keep playing well. I try to keep having chances to win.
The end, doesn’t matter if you defend or you’re not defending, because if you’re defending points it is because last year you played well and you are in a higher position of the ranking. If you don’t have to defend, it is because you are in a lower position on the ranking and because you played bad.
So doesn’t matter at the end. When I start the season I see a season like everybody start from zero, and for me the ranking is just the race. From January to end of November, when they finish the season, I take that like — well, we start here and we will see how many points I can make it in Australia. But the pressure is to play well there and to try to have chances.
Ways to stay sane…
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports