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.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells
The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…
Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.
It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.
Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.
” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.
Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.
In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.
Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Sidesteps Question Over Vaccination Status
The Greek also jokes that he will be having less bathroom breaks in Indian Wells due to one particular reason.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has declined to confirm if he has received a COVID-19 vaccination despite previously saying he planned to do so later this year.
The world No.3 was questioned about the vaccination during his pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells on Wednesday. Earlier this year Tsitsipas came under fire after saying he doesn’t see a reason why somebody his age needs to be vaccinated and expressed concerns over the potential side effects. He also added that young people catching COVID-19 is a good thing as it helps build up their immunity. Prompting criticism from various people, including a spokesperson for the Greek government.
However, in recent weeks Tsitsipas has changed his stance on the issue and recently told Antenna TV that he will have his first dose by the end of this year. When asked by a reporter in Indian Wells if he has had it yet, the French Open finalist declined to answer.
“I’m sorry but I’m not able to provide any of my medical records,” he said.
Player vaccination rates in tennis are becoming a growing issue amid reports that the Australian Open may only allow fully vaccinated players to participate due to a health mandate which has been implemented by the local government. There is yet to be a formal announcement by Tennis Australia regarding their entry requirements. However, The Age newspaper reports that there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that only vaccinated players will be allowed entry by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
Tsitsipas’ immediate focus is on this week’s BNP Paribas Open where he is the second seed behind Daniil Medvedev. Speaking about the conditions, the 23-year-old joked it was ‘very dry’ and therefore he will be having less bathroom breaks during matches. Referring to the recent criticism he has received from some of his peers over the timing of breaks he takes.
“It’s very dry here,” Tsitsipas said.
“That is good for me because I sweat less, which makes for less bathroom breaks, which makes for less complaints. So a very good sign so far,” he added with a smile.
The hope for Tsitsipas is that he will be able to build on his recent experience at the Laver Cup where he helped Europe secure their fourth consecutive title. The event provides players with the opportunity to work alongside each other in a team format. Something Tsitsipas relished but he is ready to get back to singles duty.
“I think team competitions are necessary for our sport and we don’t get to be united a lot,” he said. “We always kind of focus on ourselves and our things and environment and that is what you usually see on Tour. Players doing their own thing. Not much socialising.
“At the Laver Cup, we all get to have dinners together and all get to hang out with each other. Of course, though, we all have our competitiveness and if we get stuck around we might share too much with one another, that is the mentality behind it.”
Tsitsipas is yet to win a main draw match in Indian Wells. He will start his 2021 bid against either qualifier Roberto Marcora or Spain’s Pedro Martinez.
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