Doha: Post final presser transcript

Photo: AP Photo/Osama Faisal

Photo: AP Photo/Osama Faisal

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.

Q. Congratulations.

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?


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

16 Responses

  1. Lyn says:

    Sometimes, like in this article, Rafa speaks of confidence like it is a good thing. Most of us could probably agree with that. Then at other times he says self confidence equals arrogance. Confusing…maybe a fine line lost in translation?

    • miri says:

      For me, I think there’s a difference between self-confidence and over-confidence. Self-confidence means you have faith in yourself to face challenges in front of you, but still recognize that they will be challenges, could be quite difficult, and that you may not overcome them. Over-confidence (or arrogance) means you don’t think there will be a challenge – at least, not a difficult one that you need to prepare to face – because you are superior to anything that might come your way. Basically, with self-confidence, there can still be doubt. Over-confidence means there are none. (But this is just my interpretation.)

      • CB says:

        Well said, Miri. I think you’ve captured his thoughts exactly.

        • Lyn says:

          Well, agree Miri, that’s how most of us think…As in the difference in being confident or cocky. But in that suffering/strength article..Rafa clearly says..”Self confidence is a synonym for arrogance”…didn’t jive for me…….so just thinking of different words usage and translations.

          • miri says:

            True. I wasn’t cross-referencing and taking a more global look at things. ;) I guess I don’t agree with him. It can be a synonym for arrogance, it isn’t necessarily one. Hmmm.

            • sia says:

              “..playing more inside … very well with my backhand” ” I have a big advantage when I am feeling right with the cross backhand.”
              These words thrill me a little bit. Watching Rafa’s backhand working like it was in the final with Monfils was pretty thrilling! ;)
              We know the forehand is (almost) always there but that BH needs a certain level of confidence. I think Rafa likes to speak of confidence in the work he does, in his tennis not in the idea of “self” confidence.

              • Lyn says:

                Thanks, Sia and Miri. I will pay attention to that difference. “Self-confidence” must have an arrogant connotation to Rafa. Strange to me. We’re all about self esteem here in the states. ;)

                • CB says:

                  I am now reading Rafa’s autobiography and it is obvious that he believes self confidence is important. I think the difference for him is that you have to be self-confident in your ability to play well and to fight through rough patches, but not self-confident that you will necessarily win. That’s how it comes across to me anyway. It is arrogant to be so self-confident that you believe you can’t lose. That is folly in Rafa’s mind. I don’t think anyone who has won 13 slams can be without a certain amount of self-confidence. :)

  2. Jeffrey Tuller says:

    Rafa is definetly mentally and physically prepared to challenge for the Australian Open and he knows if he plays his best he can win this title . I think he is cautiously optimistic and that is the right attitude to challenge himself to play every point to the best of his abilities to get the most out of his game in order to win the Australian Open .

  3. teejustice says:

    Interesting comments from Rafa in this presser. I like that he described his tennis/play as beautiful, and how he discussed his level of tennis improving and what it means for him to sustain playing the shots and controlling the court. I think he is getting a bit more comfortable acknowledging his level of play, or at least speaking in a way that does not seem arrogant to him. Perhaps that is why he’s phrasing things in ways he had not done before. Or it could just be a bit lost in translation.

    I too am glad he didn’t rush down to Melbourne, but he seems to be following his normal routine. Doha seems to be a relaxing place for him, and though he had to play a tournament, he had his family there so it was a way to have a holiday as well. It would seem too much (from mental perspective) to be at a slam that early. Most slams have the top players arriving 4-5 days ahead of the start of play.

    Can’t wait to see Rafa back in Melbourne Park. Vamos 2014!

    • SAM says:

      I think there is a lot of logic in staying an extra day and leaving on Sunday. He also said if he lost in the first round he still had the ticket booked for Sunday night. If he travelled to Australia early he would have got stormed by journalist and Paparazzi. That would be very disrupting to the work schedule and sometimes you loose focus. That is why most players just go to Grand slams 4-5 days earlier to travel under the radar and just do a few interviews but concentrate on the GS.

      • RAFAFAN says:

        Rafa LOOOOOVE Doha, lots of friends and I think he decided to spent the whole week even if he did not play the later rounds just to spend some time with good (old) friends. He was not in Doha last year remember, so they missed each other :).

    • leslie says:

      I didn’t think he described his tennis as beautiful but rather the feeling the level he was playing evoked in him. A huge difference of interpretation, and expression of character, for me at least.

      For sure watching that first set was beautiful for me too. Such a feeling of joy when Rafa can execute, use aggressive play, come to the net and hit winners from all over the court. Just beautiful – the play and the feeling!

      • miri says:

        They are different and similar to me. I agree that he was probably talking more about the feeling it gave him, but it still seem rare to me to hear him talking about it in such an evocative way. And playing bad tennis wouldn’t have made him feel that way. But I you have a very valid point in saying that that connotations are very different.

        (Well, except for the time I heard him yell “BeeeeeeeYouuuuuuuuuTeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeful” when he totally shanked a shot once during practice.)

  4. Sharon/London says:

    I think the self confidence which can come across as arrogance & smug is in what one says & the way one conducts themselves on & off court is perhaps what Rafa means. You never hear Rafa making brash comments about his upcoming opponent(s) on how he is going out there to beat them even when he holds the h2h over most of them and he doesn’t brag when he wins either.
    Then there’s the self confidence you build within but at the same time remain humble. That’s Rafa.

  5. Annie says:

    I’ve heard Rafa say self-confidence is “arrogant” but I’m beginning to think he’s missing something in his translation since they’re not the same thing at all!

    That was a great Q&A. Thanks Miri. And I love what you said about the “stepping in” issue. So true. He knows! he knows! :)