TENNIS Mutua Madrid Open 2014 – R. Nadal d. J. Nieminen 6-1, 6-4. An interview with Rafael Nadal.
Q. For the quarterfinals match, Tomas Berdych. It’s been a long time since the last time he beat you. In Rome, 2013, 2 0 for you. What are you expecting from him tomorrow? It’s going to be in the morning, so we’ll see.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, in the morning, I think it’s going to be at 3:00. On the your time, right?
Well, it’s always the same thing: I think that Berdych today played an important match. He beat Dimitrov when he came from playing really well. Dimitrov is also doing very well, and that’s a lot of merit for Berdych.
I saw the first set. I saw a little bit of the second, one but not a lot because I was getting ready. He’s a very dangerous player on every single surface. Here even more with the altitude. The ball flies very fast and the serve is very difficult to break.
My goal is to try to be aggressive. I know that to play against him I don’t have to leave many spaces on the court. If he strikes the ball in comfortable positions I’m nearly dead, because he has a really high ball speed.
And I have to try to see what he does a little bit better. Maybe his movement is not as good. You know, perhaps when I’m good and a little bit stronger than him on that side moving from side to side on the court.
But all the rest, it’s really difficult to stop him if you’re not on your best level. Today I did a good match. During perhaps an hour I played at a really high level. Also, it’s true that after that I didn’t play such a high level. I had something in my head.
Q. What do you think, you will lift the trophy on Sunday or Real Madrid wins the 10th Champions League on the 24th?
RAFAEL NADAL: Real Madrid just needs to win a match, and over here I have to win three matches. It’s easier that Real Madrid wins the Champions League.
They have days to go, and I have only hours in front of me before my next match. And that’s are we have. I have to be ready. It’s an important match for me. I have been two weeks losing in the quarterfinals, so let’s see what happens.
Hopefully I can make it to the semifinals. I hope that I have the energy and the intensity required to be able to play against Tomas since the beginning in a proper way.
I hope that the fact that I’m playing at home it’s going to be an extra help.
Q. I want to talk a little bit about your answer. Last thing you said before about the good timing that you had to play on the court. Perhaps you played your best match on clay. Today you said you were playing well, but you said at the end of the match you had something on your mind. Was that a good thing or not?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, whatever you have on your mind, it’s not a good thing. Completely opposite. It’s true that during the first hour I played better than yesterday, more dynamically and with more intensity. I knew what I was doing with each ball with no surprises.
I was defending properly and knowing what was happening in every single moment. I could defend properly. Perhaps that’s something I wasn’t able to do in the last weeks. Perhaps today with more energy and I was more dynamic than before.
So I think I did that pretty well today. After that, well, when I was attacking I was doing it properly with no anticipation. I wasn’t going for the winner straightaway, but always having the initiative of the point.
When I was saying with no surprises, well, I was saying that if the ball came long, then the ball came long. If I wanted to do a short ball, I did a short ball. Things I didn’t do last week.
For example, last weeks if I wanted to play a long ball I maybe put it in the net. So those are things that get you out of the court.
Perhaps today things were more controlled than other days. That builds confidence for you whenever you’re moving and playing very well. Those margins of error give you confidence without having to go behind the tramlines a lot to win the point.
Q. When you said you had something on your mind, what are you talking about?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, that I committed some errors and didn’t play with the intensity that I was at the beginning. I don’t know how many unforced errors I made after the 2 0 in the first set or something like that, or 2 0, 3 0. I think very few. I think I didn’t commit nearly any unforced errors.
I would like to know how many I committed, but I felt I hardly committed any errors. You know, when you’re for a long time without missing anything, sometimes you can commit an error that I shouldn’t.
You know, I’ve done it in two consecutive games, one with his serve. I committed perhaps some errors one after the other. Perhaps another one also with my serve I committed some consecutive errors.
So, you know, he cannot go 3 2 when I have such a good dynamic. I have to go ahead again. When I am 3 1 I have to be 4 1, not 3 2.
After that, another game which I think I should have done the break at 4 3. That was a complicated moment because we were 3 3. I think that was the moment to go back in and break again, and I started with a good point and then I think I committed two errors.
So I think what i have to avoid in order to be competitive, in order to play well against the player that I have now.
Q. Accepting that your two opponents have been very hard, do you think tomorrow’s match is really a test to see if you’re playing better?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, instead of a test, it’s just another important match. Perhaps it’s the most difficult of all week without any doubts. I think I’m playing against the 6th in the world? 5th? Where he is?
RAFAEL NADAL: 6th. Well, you know, he’s a player that has been playing really well. He made it to the semifinals in Australia, he won in Rotterdam I think, and he’s a player that has a capacity to play at the maximum level.
I don’t know if it’s an exam, but it is a big test. We have to be ready to face it with the proper attitude. We have to be mentally strong for the moments that we have out there, because there’ll be complicated moments.
It’s never going to be an easy match. It’s going to be very equal, I hope. We just have to be ready to assume that and to keep on playing bravely.
Q. Last time that he beat you was here in Madrid in 2006. Can you remember anything of the feelings that you had back then? Do you remember something of that match?
RAFAEL NADAL: In 2006? Yeah, sure. Of course I do.
It’s not a match that I have good feelings about because it was a lot of years ago. It’s the past. It was one of the few times I had problems inside a court in my life.
It’s the past. All of us learn with the years. Me the first, and nothing. I think that tomorrow’s match has nothing to do with what happened in 2006. It’s a completely different history, different surface.
Unfortunately we’re pretty old now.
Q. The match against Pico was a little bit short. This one was a little bit longer. Do you think you have good rhythm here with the altitude in order to have a victory tomorrow?
RAFAEL NADAL: Tomorrow at 5:00 or 6:00 I’ll let you know. I don’t know what can happen in the future. Only thing I know is that I won two matches, which is always important.
I’ve won them more or less with continuity, which is also positive. Now the complicated part of the match comes. You have to go the step forward and play happily and bravely and I think with determination.
This is what I have to do if I want to have options.
Q. Congratulations today. Your analysis of the match today? It was going pretty well in the first set and he pushed you in the second set. Did you always feel in control of the match today?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. When you are 4 All and breakpoint for the opponent you are not in control always. But it’s true that for one hour probably I was playing the best tennis that I played for the last three weeks.
One of the first days that I felt that I was doing with the ball what I really want to do. So that’s a very positive thing.
And the negative thing is in the match I had an opportunity to close the match with great feelings and I made few mistakes in a row. That makes the match more complicated. I gave the opportunity to Jarkko to play more aggressive and with more determination.
For me it was a mistake to give him that option because I had the match completely under control with 6 1, 3 0. Tomorrow is another is history against one of the best players in the world. I need to be at my 100% to have any chance.
I am going to try. I know I have to play better and better every day if I want to have chances.
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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