Mutua Madrid Open 2014 Interviews. Rafael Nadal: “I was dominating over the points and playing very well.” - UBITENNIS
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Mutua Madrid Open 2014 Interviews. Rafael Nadal: “I was dominating over the points and playing very well.”

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TENNIS Mutua Madrid Open 2014 – R. Nadal d. J. Monaco 6-1, 6-0. An interview with Rafael Nadal.

Q. First of all, congratulations. I want to talk to you about the people that are not playing here. Djokovic and Federer; Wawrinka left. Do you think there is a favorite, apart from Nishikori and Ferrer and you to win here this year? I think that Murray-Isner is a little bit complicated.

RAFAEL NADAL: Favorite, as I always say, is whoever lifts the trophy. That’s the favorite. There are candidates, and in the end it’s you, the ones who care about that and you have to write about that.

We don’t care. We go day after day and we know that all the matches are complicated. Every day you have to be out there with all your senses. When you come off a winning streak you see things differently. When you’ve lost a few matches, maybe things are a little bit more complicated.

So you just have to think on each point, match after match, and then see if things just work out. And in the final we’ll see what happens. We will see who’s playing better. Let’s see who can be there for the final rounds.

 

Q. Your friend and opponent Monaco was really angry with the umpire. Do you think that that was something that affected him?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t know if that affected him. Whenever you have a distraction sometimes you don’t play as well. It doesn’t help.

Well, as I said, in the end he was a little bit angry. For example, the time he was taking too much time, I understand that after that point it was not a time to give a warning.

You know, after all, it seemed that the ones that rule here don’t want to see what people like to see. People like to see that the points are fights and they have long rallies. I’m not making things up.

I just see what people applaud out there. People rarely applaud an ace; people don’t really applaud a serve. People applaud normally long rallies. That’s what they like.

The points where the abilities are there, where you’re suffering, that’s what people like. The points that normally we face the limits, that’s what people like to see.

It seems that those up there that are ruling don’t like that. They’re looking at a game where you don’t have to think, where you have to play ping pong really fast, one shot after another one. I think that’s not the sport.

So I understand that Juan was getting angry when he had a warning after a long point. He was running from one side to another. He needs to recover to continue giving a good performance. That’s what happens. That’s my feeling.

I already told you last year when this rule came into the game and it was a little more strict, what I do is try to adapt myself and play. I just do what they say. But my opinion is different to what we have out there.

 

Q. How did you feel out there? Did you need that victory to start with here?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don’t know what I needed. Of course I needed to win to have positive feelings. I think I had it. Maybe I started out a little bit nervous during the first game. It’s logical after losing a match that the next match, the beginning is always tough whenever you’ve lost.

Yesterday it happened to David. The points are a little bit more complicated at the beginning.

But it’s also true that since I’ve was able to break and confirm the break with my serve when I was 4 1 up, I think I was playing at a really good level. Perhaps one of my best levels on clay from the 4 1 to the 6 1, and then in the end of the match.

Sincerely I think I moved better and played well, better than I normally play on the clay. I was dominating over the points and playing very well. I think I’ve done positive things.

That’s the most important thing. I go step by step. You know, I don’t go from zero to 100. I go step by step. I think I’ve been playing better than I played in Barcelona.

I lost this match that I think I should have won, as I said. This week I have another opportunity to try to play well. I started pretty well, and tomorrow I have another match. We just have to be prepared for it.

 

Q. I want to ask you about the people that are not playing here. Do you think that the tournament has lost intensity or energy because we don’t have Wawrinka, Federer, Djokovic, in comparison to other years?

RAFAEL NADAL: I understand that for the tournament it’s always better that all the top players are here. Wawrinka was here but he simply lost. This is what happens in sport. You are here and you lost. It’s true that important people are not playing here, Djokovic and Roger. I’m sorry for the tournament. I’m sorry for Novak.

You know, whenever you don’t feel well, it’s really tough to say no to a tournament like this. It’s never an easy decision.

I just have to say congrats to Federer because he’s a dad once again. I think it’s a complete different situation, the one of Federer to Novak’s. It’s much more complicated, Novak’s complication, rather than Federer. Federer is something really happy. For Novak is something really bad.

In my case, I’m just playing here at home with lots of intensity, and I don’t care if Novak, Federer, or Wawrinka are not in the draw. I just look at my side of the draw, and I have to be ready for my next match.

I know that you are thinking further, but it’s very positive for the tournament and all the fans that all these players are here.

 

Q. After the matches that you’ve lost, does this generate in you tranquility? Do you have a different dynamic? Does it affect you, especially in the breakpoints out there? Do you feel it or not?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no, it’s the first match. As always, afterwards you have to go over those barriers that you might have whenever you lose your confidence.

In Barcelona I had the opportunity to go over that barrier, and I think I was a little bit unlucky. Well, I’m always saying that I don’t believe in luck, but I had the opportunities to end that game in the second set and I didn’t do that.

Now I have to do things right here in Madrid, and today’s match will help me play a little bit more calm. I have another opportunity and I have to go for it. I am moving well, and tomorrow I’m a little bit more calm, as I say, with a little bit more security as I went out today.

Because each victory pulls you up, levels you up. Barcelona I started pretty bad. In the second round I played better. With Almagro I started playing really well. After that I lost. I didn’t go for any opportunities and ended up playing really well.

We could see that at the end of the match. We’ll see once again. I’m quite happy about the things that I’ve been doing well in training, the things I did before the match. I’ve done good things.

Well, talking about being calm, it’s something that you have to live with. Whenever you win, you can also be not so calm. When you don’t win, of course you’re more nervous.

It may be a little bit more tougher to go over the barrier that was talking about. Also, I know from experience in my career that you don’t go from here to here.

So you just have inertia, small things you have to change and they come out naturally. I just have to do it. I think today in the second set, the end of the first, I’ve done it pretty well.

Tomorrow I have another opportunity to play well. I’ll try to continue playing at tournament and we will see what happens. Because I also have a difficult opponent tomorrow.

 

Q. You have achieved your 654th victory. That’s over Arthur Ashe. What do you think about that?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, in this case I always say that these things, you have to analyze them when you’re done with your career, not when you’re in the middle of your career.

You know, Ashe was a fantastic man in our sport. Well, it’s not something that was planned or that he knew, so all merit for what he did. As I said, he was a very important person in our sport.

In this case for me, you know, no matter how many victories I’ve had, I’m very happy that I can be compared to him. You know, to be to the level of some people like this, it’s always a great satisfaction for me.

 

Q. I am from Argentina. Monaco, I was just with him, and he said that he received a great lesson from your side. On Twitter, he just posted a phrase for you saying that you’re going to charge him Argentinian pesos for the lesson that you taught him?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, we’re friends. You know, I played pretty well. I think that he had an opportunity at the beginning of the match and didn’t go for it. He started with a break, and maybe that could have put him up a little bit.

Then when I recover from a that breakpoint, a couple good points from 2 0, to 2 1, he committed a fer errors and then I was up 3 1. That was very decisive at the end of the match.

You know, these are matches that the results say it, but you never know if at the end things are different. Something else could have happened. You know, just all the support to Pico. I think he hasn’t gone through easy situations. He’s one of my best friends on the tour without any doubts.

Apart from being a good friend, he’s a really good person. So really the best to him and really good luck for his next events.

 

Q. Out of all the other tournaments on clay, not including Roland Garros, does playing in Madrid make this one more special than the others for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, it’s not fair if I answer that yes. It’s always more special when you are playing at home. Talking about the crowd, talking about the feeling that play in front of your people.

But talking about the tournament, it would not be fair if I say    I will not say the true if I say that for me is more special for me play here than in Monte Carlo, Rome, or Barcelona. They are historic tournaments, too.

I say the same: The crowd is more special here, and the chance to play in front of the Spanish crowd, Madrid crowd, was always very special for me.

Yes it is different. But talking about the tournament, for me all the tournaments are the same. All tournaments are very, very important for me.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Matteo Berrettini Looks To Draw Inspiration From Jannik Sinner

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner ahead of his comeback to the ATP tour.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner as Berrettini is continuing his recovery from his injury.

The former Wimbledon finalist has had a horrible run of injuries which has seen the Italian fall down the rankings as he is now at 124 in the world.

After suffering a horrible injury at the US Open during his match with Arthur Rinderknech, Berrettini was looking to make his return at the Australian Open as he was set to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.

However just before the match, Berrettini withdrew as he decided to delay his comeback to the tour as he will aim to return to the court as soon as possible.

If Berrettini needed any inspiration then Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open could be that much needed spark as the Italian beat Novak Djokovic on his way to capturing a first Grand Slam title.

Speaking an interview Berrettini explained that he is still not 100% and admits he is looking to draw inspiration from Sinner’s form, “I’m better, but I’m not yet 100%,” Berrettini was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

“The goal is to play the whole season, and without these setbacks which are destroying my body and my head. Sinner did a miracle. I will also use this energy for my tennis. I was happy with what Jannik said.

“We have a good relationship, which has strengthened in recent months. We are different but similar. We are pursuing the same dream.”

Berrettini will hope Sinner’s success will have a positive influence on his recovery and quicken his return to the tour as the former world number six aims for a successful return to the tour.

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