Rafael Nadal at a press conference in Rome (photo: C.Giuliani)
Rafael Nadal at a press conference in Rome (photo: C.Giuliani)

Rafael Nadal: “After the second set I think David play with more mistakes than usual, and I continue playing with my forehand”

TENNIS 2014 ROLAND GARROS – 4th of June. R. Nadal d. D. Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. An interview with Rafael Nadal

Q. The match changed totally after the first two sets. How did you see it, and what did you see make it change so fast?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think at the beginning David was playing with a higher intensity than me. Is true that I started first two points playing well, but then I make a lot of mistakes with my backhand. Amazing with how much mistakes I had with my backhand today.

Difficult to understand, because last two days I was practicing the best that I practiced since a long time ago in terms of feeling with my forehand, with my backhand.

I went on court relaxed. Not relaxed thinking that I’m going to win, but relaxed thinking I’m going to play well. I really felt the ball better than probably during the whole year.

So I don’t know. Windy day, too. I get a little bit block mentally with my backhand, and was a little bit difficult for me to change the dynamic of the match.

I needed to hit more forehands to change that dynamic, and I was not able to do it in the first set. I was hitting the backhand that bad that I couldn’t put David away from a good position and then let him play in not a good position I had the chance to hit with my forehand, no?

Then when I was hitting my forehand I tried to go too much for the points in the first set, because I know if I hit, he has that option to play against my backhand and then he will have that advantage again.

So it was tough the first set mentally. I decide to go more inside to return in the second set, and I decided to play much more times with my forehand.

I did, I think: When I did, I think the dynamic of the match changed. Even if the match was close in the second, even if he had some break points to break back to me, the dynamic was better for me I thought in that moment of the match.

I was able to make that change. That’s important and very positive.

And then after the second set, I don’t know, I think David play with more mistakes than usual, and I continue playing with my forehand.

Is true after that second set I relaxed and I was hitting the backhand   probably not perfect, not as I would like to do, because as I told you before my feeling before the match was unbelievable with the shots   but I was playing with no mistakes.

So that was very important.

 

Q. At some point you won like 10 games in a row. Was the fact that it was getting darker maybe helping you think that you want to be more aggressive and play faster and try to finish it tonight?

RAFAEL NADAL: Would be real arrogance if I said yes to that. When you play a match of quarterfinals of Roland Garros against a big player like David Ferrer, you think about point by point and try to be an advantage.

But not winning faster because can finish the day. No, no, no, you can think that when you are 4 1 in the fourth. No, not when you are 2 0 in the third, because you know how tough is David. You have to take your own time.

 

Q. Mats Wilander said he was very impressed with the way Andy was playing on clay. He described him as a tactic genius, and he’s a threat to all the top players.Are you impressed as well about the way he’s playing on clay, or…

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I’m not impressed the way he’s playing on clay. I am not answering in a bad way. I’m saying in a good way. He can play very well on all the surfaces. It’s nothing new that he plays very well on clay.

I always say he’s able to play well on all surfaces if I really wants to do it. Is not the first time he’s in semifinals of Roland Garros.

I remember amazing match in semifinals against Novak when Novak was playing unbelievable in 2011, and he was very close to beat him. And it was on clay.

No, no, not surprised Andy is in semifinals. He’s a candidate to win Roland Garros. Before the tournament he was a candidate to win Roland Garros for me, so it’s not a surprise.

 

Q. David said he made many mistakes during the match. I would like to know if you are satisfied with your match.

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, during these past two days I practiced a lot. I think that I managed to hit the balls a lot better, a lot better than in the past year, so I felt good really before I stepped in onto the court.

But then at the beginning of the match my backhand was appalling. I made so many mistakes with my backhand; therefore, I tried with my forehand, doing more with my forehand, but I was making mistakes.

But then on my backhand my shots were not long enough, not deep enough, not across the court, so I had to try and use my forehand; therefore, this was the battle.

The battle for me was with my backhand to try and overcome this endless spiral I was trapped in to at last have a good forehand shot. When the balls were high and deep, I couldn’t play on my backhand. This is what happened throughout the first set.

No, I couldn’t manage with my backhand. I thought, Play more with your forehand. Then, during the second set, I managed to do this. During the first one, I couldn’t.

Then I decided to turn around the ball, to hit the ball with my forehand quite often. I was surprised to see that I couldn’t play my backhand shots, even though I practiced and I was feeling the ball really well before the match.

Well, this is what I remember from the match. My memories are awful. So at the end of the day, I am rather happy to have been able to turn the situation around. I managed to pull through. Even though it was complicated, I managed to find solutions during the second set.

Then at the end of the match I think he made many more mistakes. I changed the rhythm of the match. I played more on his forehand; therefore, I got more shots on my forehand.

This is a turnaround as well, because my back was not really hurting today. It was okay. I didn’t put too much stress on my back.

At the beginning, I really wanted to be very careful with my backhand shots. At the same time, I didn’t want to hit too strongly because I wanted to protect my back.

You know, he was returning the points flat on my backhand, deep and flat. That was a problem for me. Then when I managed to react it was a lot better.

When I improved with my forehand I took control. I made fewer mistakes. This is what I was saying in English before. I was saying, now, given the last two sets, the third and the fourth set, it really shows that David didn’t really play well during these sets.

The score shows that I played well, but also he made mistakes.

 

Q. Now, what about these eight hours when you had to wait for the match to start? How did you experience this? Last year this match was a final. What about this one?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we were in the locker rooms with Carlos, Albert, Toni, and we were enjoying ourselves. But I was a bit surprised I was not to be playing on the central court. I think I would have liked to play on the central court a lot better than the Suzanne Lenglen Court.

There were probably reasons, which of course I understand. But to be frank, I wanted to play on the central court.