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Rafael Nadal: “Most important thing when you are coming back is accept all the challenges”

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 19th of January 2015. R. Nadal d. M. Youzhny 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. An interview with Rafael Nadal

 

Q. It went easier than you would have thought?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sure, this is true. Very positive result for me. I think very good start. Very important, no? Always before the first match you always have the doubts, especially in this situation I’m arriving here. Never easy, but it was an important match for me. Every match is very important for me today. Was a comfortable victory that give me some confidence.

Q. When you’re coming back from an injury layoff, how important is the strength in the mindset?

RAFAEL NADAL: At the end you know that you not going to be at your 100%, so most important thing when you are coming back is accept all the challenges, the weeks, months, that you didn’t have the chance to be able to practice, to compete. That you will have for sure. Just accept every situation. Accept that you’re going to be a little slow, a little out of rhythm. You can practice a lot. I did. I practiced I think enough and with the right attitude, but at the end what you need is matches. You practice very well, but you don’t have matches under your shoulders. You cannot play with the right confidence, with the right competitive spirit, because you need to feel that. All the practices, you don’t get that. The only way to get that, you know, is having matches. That’s why this victory today is very important, and every time that I am on court competing is a big help for me to try to be back on the right level that I want to be.

Q. Mikhail says he thinks you can be very dangerous in the second week here. Has today changed your opinion of how far you think you can go here?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. What I say the other day is the real thing. Today is very hard to speak about having chances of nothing. I have one match. That’s better than two days ago. But I need more to feel that I am ready for something very important here, no? So is not the right moment to talk about that. It’s the moment to really give to this victory the right value. That’s very important for me. And try to be ready for after tomorrow.

Q. Is there something you’ve done today on court that you’re especially satisfied with?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think I returned well. My return worked really well. The serve, too. I served, I think, the right way, with only one breakpoint during the whole match. And in general I played with not many mistakes. I didn’t have lot of mistakes, but is true that when I am defending, I can arrive with little bit more confidence and try to hit the ball longer. The only way to have that is winning. And playing this match of tomorrow I will do it better. If I am able to win tomorrow, I will have a chance to do better next time. That’s always the way that you become better and you become confident: winning. The victory is everything in the sport.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your new racquet, if it’s required any adjustments in playing. What sort of information do you find useful after the match?

RAFAEL NADAL: The racquet for me is very similar one to the last one. Didn’t change almost nothing. The new Babolat is a new technology that probably will be the future in our sport. I think is great that Babolat did that. Is a big improvement for everybody who loves our sport, no? For the kids, for the amateurs who plays the sport, who plays tennis, and for professionals. At the end, we are professionals. We arrived here without using this technology, so it’s a little bit more difficult to adapt to this. But is a help, no? When you finish the practice, is a help to see – or a match – how many forehands you played, how many backhands so you know you are doing the right thing. For example, I know to play well I need to play 70% of forehands; 30% of backhands. If I’m not doing that, I know I not doing the right thing on court. That’s a way that you can check these kind of things. Then for amateurs is good to compare after the match where they’re hitting the ball, after practice where they are hitting the ball. They can compare with another thing. At the end is fine for the people who has passion for this sport, for tennis, no? I think is great. I am really sure that in the future everybody will use that.

Q. When you come out onto the court and you sit down on the bench, do you turn it on?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think I did before I start.

Q. Jim Courier was talking about back problems. He said when you’re a back patient, you’re a back patient really for life. It’s something you have to take care of your whole career, your whole life. Is that the case for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know. Last year was tough year with my back because I had problems here, then in Rio, then in Roland Garros, then I didn’t have more because I didn’t play more (smiling). But for the moment, for this year, I am feeling well. The back is not limiting me, so that’s important for the moment, no? I know the back is dangerous. I know the back is a thing that you have to take care about. We are trying to do the right things to be safe with that, but there is things you cannot control.

Q. Your shorts seem a lot shorter this year than before. Is that a decision you’ve made or something that’s come from your sponsor?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. To make the shorts shorter is something that I like. I feel more comfortable this way. We make it shorter already last year, and this year a little bit more. I like. I feel more comfortable here, more fresh. Sometimes is good to have some changes, to try different things. But seriously, I prefer this way.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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Brandon Nakashima shocks John Isner to reach first ATP final in Los Cabos

Brandon Nakashima stunned John Isner to reach the final in Los Cabos.

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Brandon Nakashima (@AbiertoLosCabos - Twitter)

The American became the youngest American to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

 

Brandon Nakashima booked his spot in the final beating an out of sorts John Isner 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes firing 12 aces and winning 82% points with his first serve.

“It’s always going to be tough playing against him, It’s always so hard to return his serve and try to get into the rallies with him but I tried to get back as many returns as I could and there was blocking or chipping the return or hitting over it and just try to mix it up a lot while getting different looks and I knew when I had the opportunities and when I got close in games I knew I had to take advantage of that as much as possible so luckily I was able to do it and of course taking care of my service games was important as well”.

For the first six games of the opening set, neither player had an issue holding serve but at 3-3, it was the San Diego native with the first chance to break but was denied by the world number 39’s big serve.

At 5-4, the world number 134 had two more chances to break and he got the crucial break and served out the first set.

Winning the first set seemed to invigorate the 19-year-old and he earned an early chance to break in the first game of the second set and broke to take a 1-0 lead. Once again that one break was enough to serve out the match and seal the victory.

After the match, Nakashima spoke about becoming the first American player to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

“It feels great and it’s a big accomplishment for me and of course all the Americans, we like to play in the US but it’s nice to see that I am playing well outside the US and luckily it’s not too far from my home here so I have been enjoying it here a lot both on and off the court and really looking forward to playing tomorrow again”.

Nakashima will face the number one seed Cameron Norrie in the final and can feel confident as the last time these two players met, the American beat him.

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