18 April 2018: Rafael Nadal (English)
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
R. NADAL/A. Bedene
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Rafa, how did it feel to play again on this court you like, and to win this match?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s a positive start, of course. Yeah, is a good start. That’s all. Is important for me to win matches, of course. I need days on court. Since Shanghai last year, I spent not enough time on court competing.
Every match that I have the chance to win is a great news because is confidence and is a chance to play another day, and that’s what I need.
Q. Your next opponent, Karen Khachanov, how do you approach that match? What do you think of him as a player?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is a tough opponent, of course. No doubt about that. Yeah, he’s a player that serve big and has big shots from the baseline.
I need to play aggressive. I can’t let him play with comfortable positions because then will be impossible. So I know I have to go on court and play an aggressive tennis, high intensity. I need to make him feel that he needs to hit great shots for a long time and from an uncomfortable positions. That’s going to be my goal.
I know going to be an important test for me. I going to try to be ready for it, I hope.
Q. The last 28 sets that you played on clay, nobody has made more than five games. Is that surprising for you? Does it make any sense for you or have any meaning?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, we cannot count different moments on different years. If that 28 sets are in a row, in the same year, for example if that 28 games is Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, of course makes sense because that mean that you are doing a lot of things very well, you are in rhythm, you are under confidence. Is a big thing, no?
But three, six, eight in a row is true during last weekend and today. Yeah, is a positive thing. But the other 20 something, I don’t know. Doesn’t make a difference because are almost a year ago. What happened one year ago doesn’t mean anything about what can happen today.
Of course, the Davis Cup have been a positive weekend for me. And today I had, yeah, a normal, positive start for Monte-Carlo. I need to increase the level, but have been good feelings.
Q. Do you think there will ever be a time when you might look at your schedule like Roger, decide that you will miss a certain part of the season, not because you’re injured, but because you think it would be better for you for the whole year? For example, to miss a section of the season on hard or on grass maybe?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I cannot predict what can happen on the future. Is not in my plan, but I can’t say ‘never’ because I cannot predict what’s going to be in the future.
Let’s see. Of course, during the years, when you get older, you need to adjust little bit more the efforts and the calendar, of course. But for me is difficult to say I don’t going to play, for example, grass, or I don’t going to play hard.
There is tournaments that I can’t imagine missing the tournament on purpose, because is the tournaments that I love to play. So I don’t see myself missing Monte-Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon on purpose, or the US Open, or Australian, or Rome. These kind of events I don’t see missing that because I want to save efforts.
I don’t see now, but I can’t say that’s going to happen in, I don’t know, years or… I play day by day. What’s going on on the future, I cannot say.
Q. When you say you still need matches, do you feel it in your tennis or it’s more a question of fitness or both?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, of course, when you will play matches, you feel more comfortable, you feel more safe with your body, you feel stronger, too, physically. You feel less tired because you get used about the high intensity. Normal feelings that when you play more in a row, feelings are easier.
Q. On the Davis Cup. You’ve been quite positive about the ideas of a different format. Do you know Gerard PiquÃ© from football before this? Have you spent much time talking to him about the possible changes?
RAFAEL NADAL: We talked enough about Davis Cup. I know Gerard since not a long time ago. I have been speaking with him on the phone last year, then I met him last year. I keep speaking with year with him.
Nothing is perfect, you know. The format that we are playing is old, so is not perfect. Probably the new format will not be perfect, too, because you miss things.
But at some point the only thing that we can say is thanks to Gerard and all his partners because they want to invest on our sport. When there is people that wants to invest in our sport, we have to welcome them.
I don’t mean this idea will work 100% or not. I cannot predict what’s going on. But is good that there is people with new ideas, there is people that feel confidence with our sport. That’s always going to be a great news.
And, yeah, I don’t know, I am happy that the new staff of the ITF are trying to do different things. I don’t know if they are going the right way or the wrong way, but they are doing things. That’s what probably this competition needs.
I don’t know if the competition needs a totally drastic change how we are trying to made. I don’t know. I don’t say no. I don’t say yes. But actually is good that people is moving and people is looking for a different things, because the Davis Cup is a huge event, is a very important event for our sport.
But all the events need to be modernized. Probably we need to find a solution for this, to help all the players to play.
Being honest and being fair, too, we are talking about the top players are not playing very often Davis Cup, it’s true. But top players are very old.
(Laughter from the press.)
Is not funny. That’s a real thing, too. When I was younger or Roger maybe was younger or Andy or Novak, we were there to play Davis Cup. But we are over 30, so it’s not that easy after a very long career to keep playing all that weeks.
Maybe the new generation can help with that.
Q. Obviously this is something for the future going forward. Would it worry you if it was in this date of late November that we could almost lose the off-season? You’re somebody who obviously has sometimes struggled around the end of the season physically. Is that something that would concern you, the particular date that seems to be talked about, late November?
RAFAEL NADAL: We win four weeks, you know, so maybe will not be that late if that happens. I don’t know if going to happens.
Q. You mean it will free the weeks up to make it easier?
RAFAEL NADAL: (Nodding head.) We have four weeks of Davis Cup this year, so maybe we finish before. Even playing the Davis Cup later, maybe we finish earlier than what we finishing today.
When I talk about the calendar always, I am not talking in a negative way that the calendar is too long. I never talked about that. I always talked about the mandatory tournaments are too long.
I understand and I will support 100%, even if the calendar is longer, because our sport is different if there is more and more people living from our sport. We have more events, there is more than 150 or 200 players living from tennis, and that makes our sport bigger. Not only makes our sport bigger if the players, top players, makes a lot of money, but if there is more players living from our sport.
My concern always have been we have mandatory and too important tournaments to skip during the whole season, so is difficult to find windows.
Q. A couple of days ago you told us on this court you would be lying if you didn’t say you feel good right away, right from the start. You have very special feelings. Can you explain? Did you feel that today? Can you explain why?
RAFAEL NADAL: Tennis is tennis in any court. Of course, there is places that you have special feeling in terms of you feel comfortable on court, you played a lot of times on this court, you know you had a lot of success. All these things help to your self-confidence.
When you play in a place, it’s like you play in a golf club that you know very well. Is easier than when you play in a new golf club.
I know tennis court is always a tennis court, but at some point you know the court very well, you feel comfortable with it, you have been in that place lot of times competing. When you are inside the court, positive memories comes to your mind, not a negative memories, no?
That’s always going to help.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports