Rafael Nadal: 'It is Worse Than Last Year' - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal: ‘It is Worse Than Last Year’

Rafael Nadal talks to the media after losing to Fernando Verdasco in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open in a re-match of the 2009 semi-final Nadal had won in Melbourne in 2009.

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Q. You started the fifth set with a break.  What do you think happened after that?

 

RAFAEL NADAL: The match is five sets.  There is not only last set.  He was playing amazing in the last set.  If you decide everything in one set, the opponent is ready to hit all the balls at hundred percent, then you are in trouble.
He had a lot of success hitting all the balls full power in the fifth.  I have to congratulate him.
But I am not happy about the way that I played the first.  In the fourth I was not very bad, but he played better than me, too.  I had my chances in the fourth, too, with that Love-30 that he played well.  That’s it.
He played better than me.  He played more aggressive than me.  He taked more risks than me, and he won.  Probably he deserved.

Q. What do you think you would have done differently?  Do you have any regrets regarding your own game through this match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No.  The match is a tough lose for me obviously.  Obviously is tough, especially because is not like last year that I arrived here playing bad and feeling myself not ready for it. This year was a completely different story.  I have been playing and practicing great and working so much.  You know, is tough when you work so much and arrives a very important event and you’re going out too early.Is tough, but at the same time, I know I did everything that I can to be ready for it.  Was not my day.  Let’s keep going.  That’s the only thing.
No, no, there is no more things to do than keep practicing hard, keep practicing the same way that I was doing the last four, five months. Today I was not ready to compete the way that I was practicing, so not happy with that.  That’s it.  I hope the next time I can compete better than what I did today, because I was playing good.

Q. How do you explain today you didn’t compete as well as you thought you would?
RAFAEL NADAL: In terms of being competitive, I was competitive.  In terms of creating damage to the opponent with my forehand, I didn’t.  So I was hitting forehands, and he was able to keep hitting winners.
Cannot happen when I am hitting my forehand.  The opponent, if he wants to hit a winner is because he take too much risk.  In my opinion was not the case of today.  I was hitting winners.  I was hitting forehands.  He was able to keep going for big shots in a not very bad position. That was the biggest issue for me today.  I don’t know a hundred percent the reason, to be honest.  I was doing that good on the practices and the previous tournaments.  Was not the case today.

Q. Do you feel that you deserved a bit more support from the crowd, especially towards the end in the fifth set?
RAFAEL NADAL: No.  The crowd is great.

Q. Seems like a lot of times in Grand Slams guys have been playing freely against you, with more confidence, Kyrgios, Brown, Fognini.  Do you sense in these matches that players are playing more aggressively and more confidently against you than it used to be, or is it something that’s different on your side of the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: The game is changing a little bit. Everybody now tries to hit all the balls.  There is no balls that you can prepare the point, no?  Everybody hit the ball hard and try to go for the winners in any position.  Game become a little bit more crazy in this aspect. But the real thing is my mission is make them play with difficult positions.  So if they want to go for lot of winners with very difficult positions, the chance of having success is not very high.  If I let them hit from good positions and they obviously wants to go for winners, then the chances for success are much higher. So that’s the mistake for me today.  Last year was different story, no?  Don’t want to compare last year, because last year was a different issues. But this year, the real thing is I was not enough aggressive with my forehand during the whole match. I didn’t feel it.  I tried.  I fighted.  I was ready to do it, and I didn’t.  So I am sad for that.

Q. We’re a year on from you saying you were lacking that confidence from a year ago.  Is there a different way you’re approaching the majors? This is the third one where you’ve lost fairly early compared to the other tournaments.
RAFAEL NADAL: I play majors same way I play other tournaments all the year.  All my life I played every tournament putting all that I have there. When I am playing in a 250 or 500 or Masters 1000 or Grand Slam, when I go on court, I am not more focused.  Nothing in general when I am playing the bigger tournaments.  I try my best in every single match of the year.  That’s it. Sometimes you have success; sometimes you do not.  Today it is obvious that I didn’t.

Q. Your coach was telling us yesterday that you’re trying to change some things in your game to advance it more.  Do you think because it’s still early in the season you’re going to need a few more months to actually see these changes make a difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: You never know what’s going on in the future.  I felt myself that I was practicing great, playing very good. I was practicing little bit different, trying to be more inside the court.  It’s obvious that all the changes are not easy and especially are difficult to make that happen when you are competing.
But the real thing is if I am not doing that, then I am dead.  I can play defensive or offensive.  But if you stay in the middle, finally, at the end of the day, you are not doing nothing.
You cannot be in the middle of being offensive or defensive, because it is obvious that finally you don’t have a consistent strategy, then you are lost.

Q. When you are in a long match, like, do you feel when you’re not playing aggressive enough, do you push yourself to be more aggressive or you realized that you were not aggressive only at the end of the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I detected that before the end of that match.  I tried.  I was playing a little bit more aggressive after the first set.  I won the next two. Then in the fourth the real thing is he had the break in the first game of the fourth.  He played amazing that game.
I was able to be back, and I put myself in a position to win the match.  But then he played amazing in the last four points of that 6-5.  In the tiebreak, he hit all the shots bombs, no?
So the biggest problem was the first set, in my opinion.  He was not playing that well in the first set. I should take advantage there, but I didn’t.  Then you lose the first.  You play against a player that has a good potential and he’s able to hit the ball so hard and take risk, then you are under pressure the rest of the match.
I could win the match, but I lost because he felt great. In my opinion, he played better than what he was doing the last couple of months, especially in the last two sets.  He played so aggressive, and the serve was huge for him today.
I just can congratulate him because he deserved, and I wish him all the best for the rest of the tournament.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Previews Musetti Semi-Final, Aims For ATP Finals Spot

Felix Auger-Aliassime spoke to UbiTennis about his semi-final in Florence with Lorenzo Musetti.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@AlemTenis - Twitter)

UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta spoke with Felix Auger-Aliassime after his 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory over Brandon Nakashima in Florence.

 

The Canadian is into the last four at the ATP 250 event in Florence after defeating Brandon Nakashima in a routine straight sets victory in Italy.

Despite being broken in the opening game, Auger-Aliassime remained calm and collected as he secured victory in 90 minutes.

Next for Auger-Aliassime is Lorenzo Musetti who he has lost to twice with one of those meetings happening in Monte-Carlo this year.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, Auger-Aliassime spoke about why the match-up has been tough for him in the past and whether their meetings on clay will impact this match.

The world number 13 also spoke about aiming to reach the ATP Finals in Turin and how much it would mean to him be a part of the elite eight at the end of the year.

Scanagatta: Here we are with Felix Auger-Aliassime who won quite easily against Nakashima, Am I wrong if I say quite easily or easier?

Auger-Aliassime: Easier. It’s always relative to your level and the perspective you want to look at it because the score. I got broken first came and come back well, it’s always tough to come back from a break down but I did well to bounce back from the first game and then I played a great set of tennis in the first set, a really good level. Then again starting the second set very good, so then holding serve until the end. So it was a great match and a great performance but I had to play my best tennis in order to win like this.

Scanagatta: Listen, can I give you good news? Tonight you are eighth in the race, 20 points more than Fritz because Fritz 2,885 and you went to 2,905.

Auger-Aliassime: You know they have it on the internet?

Scanagatta: Yes but they had to take away 45, not everybody knows that you have already completed, you are only 20 points ahead, sometimes UbiTennis is better. Apart from that you have to play Musetti and against Musetti you are down 2-1, you won Barcelona, where he had to retire but was up one set and then the other two was always played on clay. Is this better for you? Because today Musetti said I like very much this surface and I have more time and so on.

Auger-Aliassime: Look, he’s been playing very well.

Scanagatta: Have you seen him today?

Auger-Aliassime: I watched a little bit of the match today. Seemed like he was playing very good. He was hitting the ball very well, aggressive and precise. He’s a good player and he’s one of the top young players. You know I lost twice to him so of course it proves the quality that he has not only against me but he beat a lot of good players so I have to be ready for a tough match. I think potentially it can be the toughest match that maybe I have to play this week. So I have to be ready for that.

Scanagatta: He is going to have his best ranking next Monday, he will be 24 and only 23 if he would win the tournament, 24 already for being in the semi-final. What do you remember of those matches when you played him? What you recall?

Auger-Aliassime: Well he has a great touch as we all know, especially on clay he was very precise and a great touch mixing it well, the backhand. We had a close match in Lyon, I don’t remember Lyon very well but I remember the first time and of course this year in Monte-Carlo where he played really good and I wasn’t serving well and being as aggressive as I am today. But he was playing really well, backhand cross and down the line, forehand was very aggressive so he is a good player and a complete player so that’s all I can say.

Scanagatta: How important is it for you to make the Finals, the ATP Finals in Turin? Which would give you another chance to come back to Italy and eat some pasta…

Auger-Aliassime: Yeah that’s why I want to do it. That’s why it’s important because it’s in Turin and it would be great of course. You know like I said earlier this week, I love to play in Italy and not only it’s in Italy but it’s one of the best tournaments in the year. It would be a privilege to be in that group of eight players. Of course my position now, like everybody on your sheet, we’re fighting hard to make it but the competition is tough so I mean it starts at the start of the year so at the end of the day it’s not like, all the results I had throughout the year some wins, some losses it has an impact now. Of course now I’m still in a good position, so I will try to push through the last tournaments of the year and to qualify will be great.

Scanagatta: OK last question, Why you always wear black, these days I always see you wear black. Does Adidas asking is it because you like to play at night because it’s more elegant or you choose one or the other?

Auger-Aliassime: No I have a collection from New York and I change the collection there. I have black and I have purple and I thought I like the black with colourful shoes so I’m interested in my style, so it needs to work. The collection that I have I have for the rest of the year, I like it that way with colourful shoes and very neutral colours.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Eyes Improvement In Florence, Opens Up About Friendship With Berrettini

Canada’s top player sheds some light on his current game during an exclusive interview with Ubaldo Scanagatta.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - (Ben Solomon/Kosmos)

Top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime kicked off his bid for a second Tour title at the UniCredit Firenze Open on Thursday with a roller-coaster win. 

 

The Canadian world No.12 outlasted Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2, in a match that lasted two-and-a-half hours. Auger-Aliassime’s triumph moves him into his 13th Tour-level quarter-final of 2022 and improves his win-loss record to 41-24. 

This season has seen Auger-Aliassime achieve new milestones in his career, including winning his first Tour title at the Rotterdam Open, reaching a ranking-high of No.8 in August and defeating a top three player for the first time (No.3 Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup). 

Following his latest win in Florence, the 22-year-old spoke exclusively to Ubitennis. Giving a frank assessment of his current form and his chances of winning a second Tour trophy this week in Italy. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You won what was a very difficult match in three sets. I expected you to win in two, what about you?

Auger-Aliassime: You never know before the match. When the match was underway I won the first set 6-4 and then I was playing great in the second, I had an early break. I was serving good. 

So I didn’t play so bad but he played some good points. I got a bit tight. Then the tiebreak was terrible for me. That was very difficult to accept but after it was good to come back and finish the match in a good way. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: It was quite strange to see you lose two serves in a row (in the second set) and then you were serving a lot towards his backhand sometimes which was a surprise because he plays much better with his backhand than the forehand. Was that a tactical approach?

Auger-Aliassime: It depends. I was serving more to the forehand with my first serve and then I tried to mix it up with my second serve. Sometimes when you’re on the court you have to make a decision and you don’t know how your opponent is going to react. 

I think in the third set, in the games I was directing more towards his forehand side, making him move there and getting some short balls. After that, I was playing better tactically. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You will next play Nakashima who is a player making great progress on the Tour. This year he has made a lot of improvements. Have you ever played him before?

Auger-Aliassime: I’ve never played him. We have only practiced together but he is a great player who has improved a lot. He’s consistent and very precise. He has a good serve and a good return. He has a complete game for a young player who I think will improve more and become a top player to play against. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Your best ranking was No.8 and you have won one tournament in Rotterdam. Also, you have lost quite a few finals but how do you find this surface in Florence? How do you rate your chances of winning? 

Auger-Aliassime: It’s always a good challenge. Today (Thursday) I played three sets but I know I have to play better in order to win the tournament. I have to take it match-by-match. 

It’s a good challenge because it is where I want to be as a player. I want to be at the top, fighting for this spot (the title). To be at the top of the draw and try to win. It starts at these tournaments, I have to be able to step up to the challenge. 

It’s also a good opportunity for me to try and prove myself, and become a better player. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Matteo Berrettini said that you are his best friend on the Tour. Do you still see him as much as before as he was dating somebody that you may know….? (tennis player Ajla Tomljanovic who is also cousins with Aliassime’s girlfriend Nina Ghaibi). 

Auger-Aliassime: He’s a good guy and I get along well with him. We have played a few doubles in the past years but now it is a bit less as he plays more with his brother. 

We also practice together and train in Monaco.

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Were you surprised that Matteo lost in Florence? He was complaining a bit about the slow surface. 

Auger-Aliassime: We practiced together (in Florence earlier this week), and it was a good set – 7-6 like every time we play. He won it, I had a set point but I lost. Of course, I was surprised, I think he had opportunities in the second set. So it’s tough. I saw him at breakfast, it is tough to lose when you’re at home. Everybody has come to see you. 

I know how he feels. I played in Montreal this year, had a tough loss and it is never easy to go out like this. But there are still a few tournaments this year and hopefully, he can bounce back. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Finally, what is your general impression about playing in Italy?

Auger-Aliassime: I used to come here when I was under 12. I remember going to Trieste, they had this tournament in Porto San Giorgio. I also played here many times in Challengers. It’s a country that loves tennis. As a player, you come here and on the first day of practice, everybody is there (to watch you). In the city, people say hello and wish you good luck, so it’s really lovely when you’re playing in Rome. Hopefully, if I play in Turn (at the ATP Finals) it will be the same or maybe even better. 

It is really nice that they (the ATP) were able to organize a tournament here (in Florence) and I love everything about it. I felt good from the moment I came, the city is great and the people have given me amazing support. 

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EXCLUSIVE: Mackenzie McDonald Reveals Minor Italian Connection After Reaching Florence Quarter-Finals

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, Mackenzie McDonald reveals his love for Italian culture.

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Mackenzie McDonald (@thenet_m - Twitter)

Mackenzie McDonald revealed his love for Italian culture in an exclusive interview after beating Francesca Passaro 6-4 7-5 to reach the Florence quarter-finals.

 

The American beat the Italian wildcard in straight sets to seal his place in the Florence quarter-finals where he will face another Italian in the form of third seed Lorenzo Musetti.

McDonald has suffered a number of injuries but has returned to the tour in fine fashion and is now a consistent top 100 player.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, McDonald revealed what it’s like to face an Italian player in Italy and why he loves the European country so much.

Scanagatta: First of all Congratulations, secondly tell us something about this match and you had to play an Italian and do you remember other matches played against Italians in Italy where you had all the crowd against you?

McDonald: I haven’t played in Italy a lot. Besides Challengers, I think this is my first ATP, well besides Rome, playing an Italian in Italy is definitely a tough feat and the crowd’s all for him, it was pretty difficult to deal with that but I think the next match too against maybe Musetti? It will be even crazier so we’ll see what happens.

Scanagatta: But the linesman and everything was fine, you didn’t have any problem with the umpiring and nothing else? Because 20-30 years ago, it was much more difficult to beat an Italian in Italy and what happened in Rome? Who did you play with? Do you remember?

McDonald: I think I lost to Sousa, the Portuguese player.

Scanagatta: How do you find this court and can you tell me if you saw anything of Florence, I mean is it the first time for you in your life? Do you have any impression about the city?

McDonald: Yeah, I mean I went out the other night, the first night I got in, which was nice went to downtown and walked along the river, across the bridge to the church and the cathedral in the middle. So I got to see the main basic things in Florence, there’s definitely more things I want to see. My sister actually spent a lot of time in Italy, it’s one of her favourite countries, she actually named her son Rome. So there’s definitely more I want to see and I’m going to Naples next week too so I’m enjoying the food and I’m going to be in Italy for at least another week so it will be fun.

Scanagatta: What about the next round? Say something about the two players you may have to play?

McDonald: I haven’t played either one. So not too sure what to expect I mean their both very good players, both in form. I mean everyone wants to do well here in the quarters, so it will be a tough match for sure. I think I’m just going to enjoy this one today and then I’ll focus on that one maybe later tonight or tomorrow but definitely will be a challenge tomorrow.

Scanagatta: There were five Americans here in this tournament, you were one of the five, quite a lot for a tournament in Italy. What do you expect about United States playing Italy in Davis Cup even if maybe you will not be in the team but Fritz and Tiafoe are playing very very well, how do you explain the comeback of the American Tennis after few years which were so-so?

McDonald: I think we got a lot of depth right now. We have a lot of guys in the top 200, just like you guys, and a lot of guys in the top 100. All different types of players too, we’re all competing and pushing each other at the top too. We’ve got Fritz who is top ten now, one of my best friends. We have a lot of talent so I think we have a good chance against Italy, it will be an exciting match for sure.

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