TENNIS Mutua Madrid Open 2014 – An interview with Rafael Nadal.
Q. You’re in a little bit weird month because it’s been a time that you didn’t go in Monte Carlo on a Friday, Barcelona you left on a Friday. You’ve got a lot of the time to rest. Do you think that’s good for Madrid?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. It’s not good for me. The good thing is when you’ve been winning it’s good for you. You have momentum and you can keep doing things well.
Well, when you lose, you have a hard moment, you have more doubts. Well, yes, I have a little bit time. I need more time to move, choose where to strike the ball.
But no, no, that’s what happened. I’ve already said it several times. I didn’t pretend to win Monte Carlo 12 times or Barcelona 12 times. Maybe that may not be normal. This is the reality of the situation.
Maybe it’s normal to lose three times on the quarterfinals. Maybe what’s not normal is what happened during the past nine years.
But we’ll be here to fight and to try to play even better. I don’t think I have to change many things. I think I can change very small things, and the change can be quite drastic and quite big.
That’s what I’m working on right now.
Q. These small changes that you’re talking about, what do you think they are? What are the changes you’re talking about?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, they’re pretty simple. In the end, tennis doesn’t have a lot of capacity of analysis. It’s not a really complicated sport. It’s pretty simple. I have to move a little bit better on the court. I have to be better in my drive with a little bit more decision.
I think the backhand, I’ve been doing it pretty well. I just need a little bit more authority when I’ve been training with my drive. Just a little bit more authority on my drive. The backhand was working well. If I work on my drive well, the backhand is going to be better on its own.
I just need to win. I think that in Barcelona I had a good opportunity. I think I was pretty close. I think that in many moments I deserved to do it, but that tennis is a fair game. The game all the time was on my side.
So, you know, I was playing my attitude was pretty well. So I think I cannot have a better attitude than what I had in Monte Carlo, for example. The attitude I wanted to win in Monte Carlo, it’s not something about wanting ir or not wanting it. It’s about momentum. I’m feeling better.
I feel really good to play here. It’s a very special tournament for me, and the energy this tournament gives me is something a little bit different to others.
I’ve been training trying to do things properly, as I’ve been doing always. I hope that it just works out.
Q. I don’t know what does Madrid have, but in the past editions nobody managed to win the title again. In your case you could do it this time. You have a third opportunity. Do you think it’s because people normally don’t win twice?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, it’s not because of nothing. To repeat is really difficult in every single place. We’re talking about tournaments we have the top players every single year. It’s obvious when the best players are working. It’s really tough that the same guy wins from year to year.
You look at the history of our sport, it’s something that be doesn’t happen very often in our sport. It’s true the last few years some players have been winning tournaments year after year.
If we look at the history we can see that few players have been able to do this year after year, and that just shows how difficult the sport is in general.
In this case, in tennis, many matches are decided in a small points. Well, sometimes the balls always fall on the side of a guy. It’s something special that has happened several times during the past years.
It’s happened several times for some players, but it’s not very logical. It’s not very logical what happens in the last five, six years that the same players have been playing for the really important tournaments.
This can happen three times, but during so many years it’s something pretty different. I think that these things don’t happen many times during the history.
Q. I would like to talk about your defeat in Australia. What did that leave on you? Physically talking because a problem in your back that you couldn’t train for a week, or mentally because of the fact of not being able to win?
RAFAEL NADAL: The defeat in Australia is the past. We don’t have to talk anymore about Australia. It’s gone. We will go back in 2015 to try to be well there again and try to compete well in Australia.
Just another defeat with a problem. That maybe leaves you afterwards a little bit more insecurity to that loss. Because you always have that moment that you’re just dreaming about it and then you have a problem.
But this is sport. You know, the sport is just to accept, to feel done, and wake up again and stand up and try to recover.
You know, when you compete at this level, when you’re playing at the limit, sometimes you crash. You crash against the wall.
All the crashes you get during your career, you just have to survive. You just to have try not to be a mortal kick. I don’t think that’s the case in Australia.
After Australia it’s been a little bit difficult for me to get back in the rhythm for the competition, but also there are some other things over there.
In Australia where I was playing well, after Australia I stop for three weeks, then I played Rio. Even though I win Rio, I didn’t play with really good feelings. I played the tournament, but doesn’t matter. In the middle I have to leave because they have to treat my back, put something on my back, syringes.
That happened in Rio and then I cannot train after 12 days. So, you know, there I was a little bit close. And all of this in general, well you create you need continuity in order to play well.
In Indian Wells I managed to play well against Dolgopolov. I tried to win that match. These things happen.
We went over it and just have to work on it. You have to start from zero.
In Miami, was that really positive tournament for me.
Afterwards, I lost two matches here in Spain and I think I could have won.
Ferrer was much better than me, especially in the second set. The first set was really close. I think it’s a match that I should have won, but I didn’t.
In this case I have to work for here, for Madrid. That’s what I’ve been doing. I been working since I lost in Barcelona. I tried to train well to come here. If things don’t come out well, we will go to Rome; if things don’t work out there, we will go to Paris.
That’s everything. You have to continue and continue and continue, and think that things are going to work out for you. That’s what I’m going to try to do all of these days.
Q. These two defeats, do they create on you more doubts?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, they create you doubts. That’s what happens in the defeat. That’s why if someone tells you the opposite he is lying to you. The defeats create doubts. Not more be will to play. What creates will to play is that you’re feeling well on the court.
When you come from tough moments like this or injuries or whatever, you don’t manage to be on the positive line, well, you know, you then come back with a little more intensity to try to be back as soon as possible.
I just to have try to be back on that line. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.
Q. Are you surprised to see Andy Murray ranked No. 8? And you know what it’s like to recover from injuries. Do you think he’ll be able to come back after his back surgery and get back to the top of the game?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, the ranking is lying a lot of times. The ranking is not fair a lot of times. Having one year ranking when you get injury for a while, when you lose just a few tournaments or you have some problems and you are not able to play your 100%, it’s very easy to lose ranking.
So it’s not an issue for a player Andy that already won Olympics, Grand Slam, Masters 1000s. The ranking probably is not his priority. It’s to play well and have the chance to win the most important tournaments and feel himself healthy and competitive.
I don’t have any doubt that he’s fighting again for the best tournaments of the world. It’s always natural and normal that after an injury it’s tough to be back on the top of your game very soon.
So for me, it’s not an issue. He’s there. He will be fighting for the best tournaments and he will be in the top positions of the ranking if he wants to be or if he’s able to do.
When you get injury and you have some physical problems and you are not able to play all the tournaments at your 100%, then I repeat: having the ranking just one year on the calendar, you know, it’s not enough to be at the top if you were not able to play all the tournaments at your 100%.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.
TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.
The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.
“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.
Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.
Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.
Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.
Groh’s coaching CV
- 2011: Michael Berrer
- 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
- 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
- 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
- ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
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