20 April 2018: Rafael Nadal (English)
Friday, 20 April 2018
R. NADAL/D. Thiem
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Were you perhaps expecting a more difficult match against Dominic?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, of course, have been a great result for me. But that is not a normal result against a player. He played the last two finals of Roland Garros, played the final in Barcelona, final in Madrid, semis Rome. He’s one of the best players of the world, especially on clay.
Here I think I played great. I played so well this afternoon, playing very aggressive in general terms, backhand, forehand, serve. I’m defending well, returning well. I can’t say much more, no? Have been a great day for me, and a very good result against a very difficult rival.
Sorry for him because he’s a good friend. It was a tough score, of course. But I know he going to be fighting for every title during the clay court season.
Is an important victory for my confidence, too.
Q. This is your first tournament after the injury stop. Nobody seemed surprised about your results. What do you think? Did you think it would be that easy to come back on clay and win at such big wins?
RAFAEL NADAL: From your chair can look easy. For me is not easy, no? I have to work every day. I really, you know, have to be with calm when the things are not going that well.
Of course, the results this week have been very, very positive. The last weekend in Davis Cup probably helps to be here with better rhythm, better confidence. But, of course, things are going much better than what I thought two weeks, three weeks ago. Being honest, that’s the true.
But I always work without expecting even positive things or negative things. I just work every day trying to play better today than yesterday, and try play better tomorrow than today.
I know is difficult to play better than today. Being honest, I have to recognize that. But my goal is to rest and to try to wake up tomorrow again with the same energy and to go on court with the same mentality, try to play close to the way that I played today.
Q. I have a different question about the racquets. What relationship do you have with your racquet? Do you feel it’s almost a part of your body, of your arm? Do you feel to change things sometimes? Have you changed your strings, for instance?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, my racquet is my racquet. For everybody, the racquet is so important. For me personally, I play with the same racquet since awhile. I feel comfortable with it.
Of course, during the years we worked well with Babolat to find the improvements that we believe we can improve, adding some weight there on the top. But in general terms, you know, I happy with the racquet, I happy with the string.
The best news about the racquet is when you don’t think about the racquet. If you don’t think about the racquet, is because you are comfortable with it.
Q. A few days ago we had a nice laugh with you after your statement that the best players are very old. In what way does experience and age help you come back so many times into the top echelon of tennis? If we look at the top four of tennis, do you exchange experiences among yourselves about coming back from injury? Do you talk to Novak, Andy, Roger?
RAFAEL NADAL: We don’t talk much about things, no? I think everybody knows that we can ask to the other if there is any doubt. Doesn’t matter if we are rivals, for me the friendship is before the tennis court. If any player have any doubts about the injuries or treatment that I do, I am always very happy to tell them my experience.
Bad thing is I have better experience than all of them in all of these cases.
So, yeah, every time that any player ask me for things or treatments that I do, I just try to tell my experience if that can be a good help.
Yes, sometimes I talked with Andy about what’s going on or the treatment that I did.
Q. Andy has been away from the tour for 10 months, nine months. Did you meet him in Melbourne at all? He was there for a while having surgery. Are you someone that is always there for him if he needs to call you and ask for your experiences in the past?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I saw him in Melbourne, and I spoke with him with the phone two weeks ago. I have been in Mallorca. He asked me about things. I don’t want to tell you about the things that we talk because will not be fair for him, and I will not feel comfortable with it. But, yes, I tell him the things that I think worked for me. Then, of course, he has his group and he will decide.
I have been in that situation. I know how tough and frustrating is when you work every day and you don’t see the light of how to improve. You don’t see any improvements. But then one day trying things, trying treatments, one day things are going better, no?
That’s what I really hope about him because he is important, very important, for our tour.
Q. Do you think you and Andy share something in terms of very strong mental strength to come back like this?
RAFAEL NADAL: Being honest, the main thing is be healthy. Comebacks are not easy. But if you are healthy, your tennis is there. Takes little bit longer or not, but the health is the main thing.
If Andy is healthy, he will come back. After a long period time, maybe he will not be back and winning first week, but he will not forget how to play tennis. He knows that, and everybody knows that. If he is healthy, he will be back on a position to fight for the most important things.
But as everybody, you need to be healthy. Without health, you can play but is almost impossible to play at the level that Andy wants to play or I want to play, fighting for the things.
Q. How important is it for tennis to have you, Roger, Novak, Andy, Stan being there and being competitive? Do you still feel the tour needs you to stick around for more years to come?
RAFAEL NADAL: You have to ask the fans. You don’t have to ask me. I am just part of this group. I don’t know if the fans are tired of us or not. Is good if there is a new generation coming, too, that we share this new generation with us.
Of course, we will not be there forever. Tennis is much more important than me, Roger, Novak, Andy. We need future stars, too. That’s a new generation that have to become stars. There is couple of ones that they have a big chances.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports