TENNIS 2014 ROLAND GARROS – 8th of June. R. Nadal d. N. Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4. An interview with Rafael Nadal
Q. Congratulations, of course. Are we going to change the name of Roland Garros to Nadal Garros? How many times you have to win it for that? Did you change strategy? Because today you played 43 winners; one more than Djokovic. Play many, many forehand on his forehand down the line, which normally doesn’t happen. You always play much more on the backhand. Was that strategic? Something that you started? I guess it worked.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, thank you very much. The name is very nice, Roland Garros, so… (Laughter.) Don’t need to change nothing.
Well, I tried to do my best all the time, no? I know to play against him I need to play to my limit, I need to play aggressive. But is always the same thing, no? To play aggressive and to play that shots, you need to be with confidence, you need to feel the ball.
Sometimes you don’t have that great feeling. It’s more difficult to produce these kind of shots, no? Is true that at the beginning the match start very equal, but I felt that the match was more in his hands at the beginning than in my hands.
I was winning more points from his mistakes than from my winners, and I need to change that. I think in the second set that the dynamic of the match changed. I was able to play more aggressive. I did better things.
And even if I was 4 All, the real thing was that the match really changed before. So that was a positive thing. For sure the day of today was very tough, very humid. The combination of two weeks of cold with the drastic change of yesterday and today, so today was the first real day that we play with that conditions.
This big change I think affects us, affects our physical performance. After the one set and a half we were a little bit tired today, no? It was very important for me to win that second set. Without that second set, I don’t know if I have this trophy with me now.
Q. This was a very special victory for you, your fifth in a row. You’re the first person to achieve five in a row at Roland Garros. Your ninth victory. You equal Pete Sampras with 14 Grand Slam victories. How important would you rate this victory as compared to your first, and also the last year when you come back from injury? How important would you rate this victory?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I always said the same, that I don’t like the comparations. But always for me is the same. For me, the most important thing is win Roland Garros. That’s the most important thing.
Then the other things, sure, are important, but the other things I always repeat the same. We will see when we finish my career how many Grand Slams I have or if I win four, three, or five in a row.
You know, today, that is not the most important thing, no? The most important thing today is I won the most important tournament of the world in clay, probably the most important tournament of the year for me.
I did a lot of times. I think was an emotional victory after what happened in Australia. I think I arrived with a lot of motivation to Australia this year. I prepared myself well to be there healthy and to be there with the right level.
All the tournament I played great, and in the final is true that I played against a player I always repeat the same that was playing amazing, like Stan. I don’t know if I would be able to beat him in that match. I don’t know.
But I didn’t compete that match, so that was a little bit hard to accept for me. I had few months later that mentally I go down a little bit. I was keeping fighting, but I didn’t feel myself enough strong.
Since one month I felt that I was able to playing better or worse, but my mentality was there again, no? And my motivation, my positive feelings on court was there again. Talking about mentally, no?
Then is a process that you need to work, need to win matches to play better and better. That’s something that happened. I was winning more and more the last couple of weeks, and I arrived here playing well.
That’s why I won against the toughest opponent possible today.
Q. People talk about your big strokes, but you’re also so strong on court mentally. You have such an ability to overcome problems. We saw that today. Talk about your ability to solve problems on court, your mental strength. Do you think that’s one of your strongest qualities?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I think everybody who is able to do what we are doing, you know, is because we are able to find solutions.
But most important thing is not the solutions. It’s not the most important thing. You find solution because you really want to do it, because you really want to fight, you really want to find it, you play with the right motivation all the time.
And that’s why Novak, me, Roger, last eight years we were there so many times. It’s obvious that we are not playing at our best every day, but when we are not playing at our best, we were able to keep believing in the victory, keep fighting for the victory, and keep trying different ways to win the match, no?
So that’s my feeling. That’s why we were able to do what we did that often and with that regularity, no? So it’s true that during all my career I fighted a lot for every match, and that’s the principal thing in my opinion, no?
Because then the solutions arrives, but because you really want to find the solution, no? Is true that during the matches I always try to improve the things, analyze the opponent, what’s better, what’s worse.
But the most important thing is what I told you.
Q. Wondering what the feeling is like for you to have this great match that ends with a double fault. It’s happened to you before against Novak here two years ago, and also against Verdasco in Australia. Wondering what that feels like when a big match ends on a double fault.
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s difficult. At that moment you cannot feel that was a double fault. Only feeling is you won Roland Garros, no? That’s the real thing.
Sorry for him. Was a little bit unfair what happened in the last point between his first and second serve. Happens sometimes in the big stadiums. Is nothing wrong with the crowd, but that can happen.
Probably that distracts him a little bit more than usual. That combined with the moment, with the pressure that is match point, makes him double fault. Sorry for him.
But for me personally, finish one way or another way, that doesn’t make a difference.
Q. You said that one of your objectives was perhaps Rio as well, and to reach the same level as Roger Federer.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you know, the fact that I wanted to go to Rio is a source of motivation, you know, when I couldn’t go to London. So for me it was a motivation.
Now talking about Federer, well, he’s had 17 and I have had 14 Grand Slams, that’s true. But I’m not really worried. It’s not a source of motivation for me. I’ll follow my own path. Then when my career is over, we’ll count. We’ll count.
But I don’t really care that much about the records. I’ll still play with a lot of intensity. I’ll still be motivated. Then we’ll see. Time will tell if I can have another record or not. For the time being, I’m so happy to have reached 14 Grand Slams.
So I’m so very happy. But I didn’t really look at things this way when I arrived here at Roland Garros. I’m so happy.
And then about Rio, you know, we can talk about this afterwards. You know, I have just finished Roland Garros. We’ll talk about the rest in a month, right?
I love talking about football, that’s true, but we’ll talk about Rio and football later on, if you don’t mind.
Q. You have won this tournament. Now do you feel calmer or at peace for the rest of the season?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, whatever happens for the rest of the season, I must say I have done so much already since the beginning of the year. Since I started my career, it’s been ten years, and for ten years I have played many tournaments at a high level. Of course I’m quite serene and calm, at peace.
Well, you know some holidays will probably be better, that’s for sure. The fact that I won my ninth Roland Garros in a row is a very good thing. Mentally it really shows that I can play in a very consistent way for many months. You know, it’s not just a one week preparation. You have to work hard and practice for days and weeks and months.
To me, winning is the result, the equivalent of lots of effort; therefore, I feel more serene and personally I’m very satisfied.
Daniil Medvedev Backs Djokovic’s Refusal To Disclose Vaccination Status
The Russian shares his view about comments made by Djokovic to a Serbian newspaper earlier this week.
US Open champion Daniil Medvedev says he agrees with Novak Djokovic that players shouldn’t be forced to disclose information about their medical history amid speculation over the vaccination status of the world No.1.
During a recent interview with Blic newspaper Djokovic refused to reveal whether or not he had been jabbed against COVID-19 which has raised questions over his ability to participate in next year’s Australian Open. According to a government minister, It is expected that only fully vaccinated players will be allowed to enter the country but an official confirmation is yet to be issued. The 20-time Grand Slam champion has hit out at the media over what he believes has been an unfair portrayal of those who have some reservations about the vaccine. Djokovic, who contracted COVID-19 last year, had previously said he didn’t want to be in a situation where he would be forced to have a vaccination.
“There is a lot of division in the society, not only in sports, but in the whole society, between those who have not been vaccinated and have been vaccinated. And that’s really scary. That we fell for discriminating against someone if he wants to decide for himself one way or another, whether he wants to be vaccinated or not,” he told Blic.
“It’s really…I am very disappointed with the world society at this moment and the way in which the media transmit and put pressure on all people. There is too much ambiguity, too much information that is not valid, so it turns out that it is, so it is not, everything changes a lot.”
Medvedev, who beat Djokovic in this year’s US Open final, says ‘likes’ the view of his peer. Speaking to reporters at the Kremlin Cup on Thursday, the world No.2 also said he would not be disclosing his vaccination status publicly. Medvedev was due to Moscow this week but withdrew due to fatigue.
“I liked what Novak said about this. He said the vaccination was a personal matter and he would not be making it public. And I also decided not to disclose medical things,” he said.
“As for Australia: there everyone will see who is vaccinated and who is not. Of course, the players can say that they are injured, but this will be a play on words.’
“I want to play in Australia, that’s all I can say.” He added.
According to Djokovic, Tennis Australia are set to confirm their rules for players wanting to play at the Australian Open at some stage next month.
So far this season Medvedev has won 50 matches and four trophies on the ATP Tour. Besides the US Open, he was also victorious at Marseille, Mallorca and Canada. Earlier this year he became the first player outside of the Big Four to crack the world’s top two since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2005.
The next couple of weeks will be a challenge for the Russian who will be aiming to defend his title at both the Paris Masters and ATP Finals. Looking further ahead, he hopes to one day dethrone Djokovic at the top of the rankings.
“The goal is to win more Slams, become world №1 and be in the top for many more years. For this I train and will continue to do it with even greater dedication,” Medvedev stated. “But again, the main goal is to improve and be demanding of yourself. It’s impossible to win everything, no one won 60 matches in a row, but if you play well, there will be victories.”
However, one obstacle in Medvedev’s way continues to be the Big Three who are a trio made up of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer that has dominated the men’s Tour in recent years.
“Like everything in life, their dominance will also pass,” he commented. “Roger and Rafa finished the season early, they had injuries, they didn’t play the US Open, that’s a fact. But still, out of the last 20 “slams” 17 or 18 were taken by those three guys. The three of them are the greatest tennis players in history. Due to the fact that they are getting old, it became a little easier for us to play with them, in this regard we were lucky.”
Medvedev is currently 1800 points behind Djokovic in the ATP rankings.
Andy Murray Blasts Own Performance Following Antwerp Exit
The Brit was far from happy about his latest match in Austria.
Former world No.1 Andy Murray said he had a ‘poor attitude’ during his second round defeat at the European Open on Thursday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by second seed Diego Schwartzman who prevailed 6-4, 7-6(6). Murray started the match on good footing by opening up a 4-1 lead before losing five games in a row. The second set was a closer encounter between the two as they exchanged breaks before the Agretianian edged his way to the victory in the tiebreak.
“Mentally, today (Thursday) I was poor,” Murray told reporters after the match. “My attitude was poor on the court and those are two things you can control. If they’re not there, that also will make the decision-making harder.
“You’re not going to get every single one (decision) right in the match, but you also have to be present enough to acknowledge what is actually happening in the points and why you are winning and losing points.”
It was in Antwerp two years ago where Murray won his last Tour title by defeating Stan Wawrinka in the final. Since then it has been a frustrating journey for the Brit who now plays with a metal hip and has also been troubled by other issues over the past year. His win-loss for the season currently stands at 12-11 and he has only reached the quarter-final stage at one event which was in Metz. Murray also reached the third round at both Wimbledon and Indian Wells.
Outlining his plans for the rest of the year, Murray has confirmed that he will play in both Vienna and Stockholm. He also has his sight set on the Paris Masters where he could enter into the qualifying draw if he doesn’t receive a wildcard. Murray is currently ranked 172nd in the world.
“There’ll be a decision on the final Paris wildcard on Monday, but I might even play the qualis there,” he said. “Sport is a results business. Play well or poorly doesn’t really matter if you lose matches. You need to be winning. That’s what I want in the last few tournaments. They are really strong tournaments and there are no guarantees the results will come, but I want to win more matches.”
Meanwhile, Schwartzman will take on America’s Brandon Nakashima in the quarter-finals on Friday. This week the 29-year-old is seeking only his second Tour title on a hardcourt and his first since the 2019 Los Cabos Open in Mexico.
“It was a pleasure to play against Andy,” Schwartzman said in his on-court interview. “We had not played before and he is coming back and every week he is playing better and moving better. I have a lot of respect because when I grew up playing tennis, I was watching Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], Andy and Novak [Djokovic] and right now playing against him, is a pleasure for me.”
Schwartzman is one of only three seeded players to make it through to the last eight along with Jannik Sinner and Lloyd Harris.
New British No.1 Cameron Norrie Inspired By Compatriot Raducanu
The Indian Wells champion believes Raducanu’s triumph will trigger a new generation of players in the country.
Cameron Norrie says he drew inspiration from Emma Raducanu prior to winning the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.
The world No.16 stunned the men’s field at the tournament where he had never won a main draw match prior to this year. Norrie defeated Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov and Nikoloz Basilashvili to become the first player from his country to win the prestigious title. The run has resulted in him achieving a series of career milestones. After claiming his maiden Masters 1000 title, Norrie has broken into the world’s top 20 for the first time this week and has overtaken Dan Evans to become British No.1.
Norrie credits Raducanu’s US Open run for inspiring him and believes her success is ‘huge for British tennis.’ The 18-year-old became the first qualifier in history to win a major title in New York as she won 10 matches in a row without dropping a set. Her victories include wins over top 20 players Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari.
“That was utterly incredible what she did in New York. To come through qualifying and then to go out and just whack every opponent that she had,” he told Sky Sports.
“She won in straight sets and to do that at such a young age. To do it with that kind of confidence and come out and own every match was extremely impressive.
“It will definitely give the girls around her ranking where she was before the US Open a lot of confidence and a lot of belief.
“I was inspired by her triumph in New York. It’s huge for British tennis. I think for sure it’s going to put a lot of rackets in hand for the next generation of younger boys and girls to start playing tennis at home in the UK.”
Norrie himself is currently in the midst of what has been a breakout season for the 26-year-old who was a former top-ranked player in the US during his college years. He ties Novak Djokovic for most appearances in a Tour final this season at six. Three of those finals were on a hardcourt, two on the clay and one on grass. He won his maiden Tour title in July at the Los Cabos Open. Norrie has also scored multiple wins over top 10 players this season for the first time in his career – beating Dominic Thiem in Lyon and Andrey Rublev in San Diego.
“I want to get to world No 1, that’s the ultimate goal. Everyone on my team has the same target. Clearly it’s extremely difficult to do, and there’s a long road ahead. But we set high expectations and we’re going to strive towards them.” Norrie told The Telegraph earlier this week.
Norrie enters the final stretch of the 2021 season with 47 match wins to his name and is within contention of qualifying for the ATP Finals. To put that into perspective, since its inception in 1970 only three British players has ever participated in the event.
Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the line-up at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna
Ann Li clinches her first WTA Tour title in Tenerife
Aslan Karatsev claims his second title this season at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow
Emma Raducanu looking to finish the season on a high note
Jannik Sinner Becomes Youngest Player Since Djokovic To Win Fifth ATP Title At European Open
REPORT: Unvaccinated Players Set To Be Banned From Playing Australian Open
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