17 April: Rafael Nadal
Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
Wednesday, 17 April 2019
R. NADAL/R. Agut
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. That looked very convincing. How did your body feel playing competitively again?
RAFAEL NADAL: Good. I’m happy for this very positive start. I had good feelings on court, yeah.
Q. No pain in the knee at all? A lot easier on the clay now?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can’t pretend to don’t have pain at all, because I never thought about that. It’s a long time ago that professional players play normally with pain, because that’s part of the sport to the highest level and no limitations at all. So I was able to move well and be confident with the things that I did.
Q. Can you describe the feelings you have when you enter this court where you won so many times and feel almost at home?
RAFAEL NADAL: Every year is the same, no? When you come back to a place, the first thing that the history of this place is amazing. All the great champions have been playing here. A lot of them winning. For me is just an honor to play this event.
For me, personally, even if this tournament is very special for everybody, probably for me even a little bit more. I always loved this event. Of course, after all the things that happened here, to me, every time that I have the chance to be back here is great feelings and just trying to enjoy every one.
Q. It is the first match on clay after long time. Did you find again your game? You are very satisfied about it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, this is just the first match. Have been a very positive start. The results say that. And the feeling on court, too.
I can’t tell you if I found my great rhythm. No, is not the case, no? I just started well. Is the first match in almost a year on this surface.
But of course start like this helps. Tomorrow is another good test against Grigor, so let’s see. I need to play well again.
Now what I need is play matches, spend hours on court, and of course the victories help. Every victory is a positive energy, confidence on the game, confidence on the body. And that’s what I need today. Today was a good start. Let’s try to continue well tomorrow.
Q. You have said many times nice words about NextGen players. Many of them are very close to top level, but in your opinion, they are ready to win a slam on clay which is the surface most demanding?
RAFAEL NADAL: Why not? Let’s see. But the problem is, to win a Grand Slam, there is only one event per year on clay. There is only one NextGen player that can win the Grand Slam, and there is not NextGen players that they want to win, too.
Let’s see. Of course they have a great level, and they are in a position that they can win anything, because young players always have this extra energy. It always is difficult to win for everybody: for the NextGen, for the OldGen, for the MiddleGen. For everybody is difficult to win important things, no?
Let’s see. It’s the work of every day, and we gonna know the answer in a couple of months or one month and something.
But today, what really matters is Monte-Carlo, no? Let’s see which “Gen” wins the tournament.
Q. Can you tell us about the condition of the court today, the clay itself? It was fast because it’s sunny?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s perfect. The court always here is great. Especially when we have this weather is just fantastic, no? No wind. Great feelings to play tennis. The ball is bouncing, so it was great conditions to play tennis.
Q. You have won so many matches here. You probably don’t remember them all. But do you remember the first one? And do you remember especially the one that you beat Albert Costa here, which was a late match at night and you were NextGen at that time? You were a young, young kid.
RAFAEL NADAL: In that moment, it was not…
Q. Called NextGen.
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Nicola was not there. (Laughter.) With all these years, he increase his imagination and all the promotions, so in that moment we needed to found our personal promotion. ATP don’t support that much like today that everything is NextGen, no?
No. Jokes. (Laughter.)
Q. How old exactly you were? Do you remember?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was 16. The first match on main draw, of course I remember against Kucera. The first match on the qualifier, I am not sure. I play against I think Kolarov (phonetic) or something like this in the second round of quallies or first round. I can’t remember that, sorry. And against Albert Costa, of course I remember the match very well.
Q. Very late at night.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, was late. At the beginning I think he felt confident that at the beginning he was dominating me, but at some point the match end, you get closer, and probably is not easy to play against a very young player like I was in that moment, and he was a little bit more nervous. I played a good match, and I was able to find a way.