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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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round

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A look at Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (twitter.com/cincytennis)

On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller.  In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.

 

WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek.  Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court

Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka.  He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began.  But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months.  Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year.  Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours.  But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor.  While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand

Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July.  But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play.  Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year.  On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0.  Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019.  These two Major champs have never played before.  Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year.  Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ.  Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.

Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ.  Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year.  They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington.  This will be their first career meeting.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts.  Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning.  Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Emma Raducanu, Venus Faces Karolina Pliskova

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Serena Williams practicing on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

In what is expected to be the next-to-last event of her storied career, Serena Williams will play her opening round match on Tuesday.  And in a blockbuster matchup, she faces reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  Can the 19-year-old defeat the GOAT, or can Serena pull off one more high-profile victory before her career comes to an end?

 

Tuesday’s schedule in Cincinnati features many other top names as well.  Center Court alone also includes Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Venus Williams, who takes on Karolina Pliskova in a battle between two of the WTA’s all-time best servers.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Venus Williams (WC) – Second on Center Court

This will only be Venus’ third singles match of the season, as multiple injuries have hampered the 42-year-old in recent years.  Williams has only earned one singles win in the last 18 months.  Pliskova has struggled this season since a hand injury caused her to miss the first two months of 2022.  But Karolina had her best run of the season last week in Toronto, where she reached the semifinals, which included a three-set win over fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari.  Venus and Karolina played three times between 2015 and 2017, with Pliskova taking two of those three encounters.  Their most notable match was in the fourth round of the 2016 US Open, which Karolina won in a third-set tiebreak.  In 2022, Pliskova is a considerable favorite to prevail.


Serena Williams (DA) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

This will only be Serena’s fourth singles match of the season, and she’s 1-2 since returning at Wimbledon.  Last week in Toronto, she made a tearful exit from the court after her straight-set loss to Belinda Bencic, as the Canadian crowd gave the 23-time Major singles champion a standing ovation.  With this mini-retirement tour being new territory for Serena, how will she react to what will be a boisterous American crowd on Tuesday?  She’ll surely feel nervous, but Raducanu will as well, as she likely assumed she would never get to play Serena.  Emma has understandably struggled since her shocking, life-changing run a year ago at the US Open, as she’s just 11-14 on the year.  But she’s still played a lot more tennis of late than Serena.  This match was originally scheduled for Monday evening, and reports indicated it was postponed until Tuesday due to an injury concern regarding Serena.  That’s advantage, Emma.  But as we’ve learned over the course of the last several decades, Serena is fully capable of willing her way to victory even when she’s far from her best.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Naomi Osaka vs. Shuai Zhang – Osaka is just 1-2 this summer, and was forced to retire last week in Toronto due to a back issue.  She is 3-2 against Shuai, though they haven’t played in nearly four years.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Kyrgios has won 14 of his last 16 singles matches, and is on an eight-match win streak in doubles.  Davidovich Fokina is only 4-9 this season on hard courts.

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – Gauff is now the new world No.1 in doubles, and is on the brink of making her top 10 debut in singles.  Bouzkova has claimed 18 of her last 22 matches at all levels. 

Mackenzie McDonald (WC) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – McDonald was a finalist last year in Washington, but arrived in Cincinnati on a three-match losing streak.  Alcaraz was upset last week in an extended affair with another American, Tommy Paul.  Earlier this year at Indian Wells, Carlitos beat Mackie 6-3, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp – Medvedev needs to win at least two matches this week to ensure he maintains his No.1 ranking.  He’s 2-0 against van de Zandschulp, taking seven of their eight sets contested, all on hard courts.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Major Champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka Square Off

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Andy Murray practicing this past week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

For the second consecutive week, a combined ATP Masters/WTA 1000 event is being staged in North America.  This week, it’s the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The singles draws in American’s heartland are loaded: the ATP draw features 14 of the world’s top 16, while the WTA draw features all 16 top-ranked players.

 

Most notably, Serena Williams will play what is assumedly the next-to-last event of her career, and will face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the first round.  And Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals due to his ongoing left foot issues.

Monday’s action is headlined by Major champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who will play each other for the 22nd time. 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Center Court

Their rivalry dates all the way back to 2005, when Wawrinka defeated Murray in Davis Cup.  Their most prominent encounter took place in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, when Stan outlasted Andy in a five-setter that lasted over four-and-a-half hours.  And neither man has been the same since that grueling battle.  Just weeks later, Murray’s hip problems derailed his career, while Wawrinka would undergo knee surgery.  Both men have now battled multiple serious injuries over the last five years.  Overall Andy is 12-9 against Stan, and 8-4 on hard courts.  Murray has gritted his way to 22 victories this year, while Stan is only 3-7 since returning from foot surgery this spring.  Based on current form, as well as Murray’s history at this event, where he is a two-time champion, the Brit is the favorite on Monday.


Matteo Berrettini (12) vs. Frances Tiafoe – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

Berrettini returned from surgery on his right hand in June, and promptly went on a 12-match win streak.  However, he unfortunately missed Wimbledon due to testing positive for COVID-19.  And last week in Montreal, Matteo lost in the opening round, though that one-sided loss to Pablo Carreno Busta doesn’t look quite as bad after Pablo’s fantastic run to his first Masters 1000 title concluded on Sunday.  Meanwhile, it’s been a disappointing year for Tiafoe, who is only 20-17 and has suffered some painful losses.  At Wimbledon, he lost a four-and-a-half hour fourth round match to David Goffin despite having a two-sets-to-one lead.  And just last week in Montreal, Frances was up 4-0 in the third over Taylor Fritz before losing the last six games of the match.  Their only previous meeting occurred four years ago on clay in Rome, where Matteo was victorious in his home country in straight sets.  Can Tiafoe avenge that loss in his own home country?  Frances often excels during night matches in the United States, with his five-set win over Andrey Rublev at last year’s US Open serving as a prime example.  But Matteo has been the much stronger performer for a few years now, and his potent serve/forehand combo makes him the favorite.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Amanda Anisimova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Anisimova has reached the second week of every Major this season, while Kasatkina has won 18 of her last 24 matches, which includes a title run this month in San Jose.  Amanda leads their head-to-head 2-0, and dominated Daria 6-2, 6-0 at the beginning of this year.

Jil Teichmann vs. Petra Kvitova – Teichmann was a surprise finalist here a year ago.  Kvitova is only 17-15 this season, though she did win a title on grass in June.  They’ve played three times since last year, with Jil claiming two of those three matches.

Denis Shapovalov vs. Grigor Dimitrov (16) – Shapovalov has now lost nine of his last 10 matches dating back to May.  Meanwhile it’s been over four months since Dimitrov has won more than two matches in a row.  Grigor is 2-1 against Denis, and 2-0 on hard courts.

Sloane Stephens (WC) vs. Alize Cornet – It’s been a streaky season for Stephens, with nine of her 11 victories coming at just two events.  Cornet has achieved two noteworthy results this season: reaching her first Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, and ending Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon.  This is their first career meeting.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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