Q: You said the other day that the transition from Roland Garros to the first grass tournament for you is a very tough challenge. But today it seems that you made a good adjustment to play a decent game?
NADAL: Especially in the second set. In the first set, I think I had more mistakes than usual with my backhand. With the forehand too but the feeling with the forehand wasn’t that bad. With the backhand yes, I had to finish the first set slicing more balls than usual. That’s good that works here on grass. In the second set, I did everything better. My serve was better, the forehand was better, I had more control, I was more aggressive. Sure, I’m happy to be through, I’m happy to have played the first match here in Halle after a long time. I’m happy to win. Every hour on court works a lot for me on grass because I don’t have a lot of time to prepare. Today, it was great for me. Tomorrow will be a big challenge against Kohlschreiber. He is the defending champion here. He plays great on this surface. I will try. I think, as I said, every match in this tournament will be not a lottery but a very difficult one.
Just keep improving each set, that should do it.
Q: The fans were completely on your side today. Is that still something special for you?
NADAL: Oh yes, it is special to have the fans supporting. To be back here in Germany after maybe four years – the last time was in Hamburg 2008. So, it’s fantastic. I’m very happy to be playing here. I think it is one of the nicest, most beautiful stadiums of the Tour, in my opinion. So, it’s fantastic to see an almost full crowd and the passion of the crowd was there. That is just great for the sport and for me it was fantastic.
Just how many stadiums are the nicest and most beautiful? Oh yes, all of them.
Q: When you have Federer on the draw do you follow his results or do you just mainly focus on yourself?
NADAL: Federer is competing on the other side of the draw. For me it’s impossible to think about the final here. I’m just thinking about today, now about the match of tomorrow. We’ll see. But don’t forget that my results from Queens since 2006, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, I won one time but the rest of the time I lost in the quarter-finals. That makes you understand how difficult the transition to grass is. You have to understand that probably all the players arrived here with time, not so tired. My situation is a little bit different if I win the French Open the last couple of years.
It’s that difficult or you are just that tire-ed when you arrive? I’m sure it’s a combo of both. I really do feel a bit for these warm-up tournaments, though. They know players aren’t going to go all out. Well, most players. (After all, look what happened to Tsonga today.)
Q: Is there a great difference between the grass here in Halle and in Wimbledon?
NADAL: A little bit. We have to say because the weather conditions weren’t the best the last couple of days. Since I arrived I didn’t see any sunshine. Now, a little bit. That makes the court a little bit softer because when there is sun the court is a little drier and that makes the court a little bit harder behind and the bounces are little bit higher. But, in my opinion, the grass is different here than in Wimbledon but it is great. The conditions are great here. The court is in a great condition.
And…it’s not raining. Don’t forget that. (Every day it rains in Queens, Rafa’s probably happier and happier with his decision to go to Halle.)
Q: Rafa, when you are on grass, do you hit the forehand with the same top spin as on clay or do you try to hit it flatter?
NADAL: No, not the same top spin. For sure not. It’s a different shot. I have to adapt a little bit my forehand, my shots but not make crazy changes. I played five finals in Wimbledon playing my game from the baseline. It’s true that I cannot defend three meters behind the baseline, I have to play aggressive. But if I hit my forehand with top spin from inside it works here. A very important thing here are the movements. So you have to hit the ball early, hit it inside the court and it’s very important to have the control of the point from the beginning because it’s very difficult to defend and come back then.
For sure not. (I’m clearly clueless on matters as technical as this.)
Q: Did you watch the Germany match last night and what do you think about Spain’s chances this year?
NADAL: Yes, I watched the match yesterday. I love football. The first half, in my opinion, was for Germany 100%. Second half Netherlands had huge chances.
What we can think about our chances winning the last two important events, the Euro 2008 I think and World Cup 2010, our chances are there. We have a fantastic team but that doesn’t mean we are going to win. The sport is like this: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Especially when you play, you decide everything in one match, when you’re in the quarter-finals, you cannot predict what’s going to happen. It’s a fantastic team. Anything can happen. But I think Spain and probably Germany are in theory the best teams.
Asking if Rafa watched football? That’s like asking if he ate chocolate…or likes gambas…or, well, you get the idea.
Q: How worried are you about Ireland tonight?
NADAL: I’m not worried but I respect every team. If they are there, they qualified, the level must be there. It will be a challenge for us. At the same time we drew the first match. So, the pressure is there, we need to win. And that’s probably what we’re going to try. It’s important to win today. If not we’re not going to be in the best position.
He’s a happy chappie tonight.
Q: Did you take the chance to play a little golf while you’re here?
NADAL: I didn’t. I arrived late. If I were able to finish the finals on Sunday and if I were here on Monday, had two days probably I would. I think that I played in 2005 here when I came. I would love to do it again but it’s going to be impossible for this time.
I think he’s happier with the Roland Garros trophy than with a round of golf.
Q: How do you make it to relax a little bit after the French Open and before Wimbledon, playing here. Federer also said that he wants to calm down.
NADAL: The tournament here is great, the atmosphere here is fantastic. We went for dinner two nights ago with a party of the players. I was there relaxing with friends. That’s good. Fortunately, I have a good friend of mine here, Marcel Granollers. I have my team with me, watching Euro, I think today starts the US-Open of golf. I don’t know yet on which channel I can see it tonight. But I love sports in general and these great events like Euro Cup and US-Open. I always follow this and I will try to find a channel here in Germany and watch it.
Hope he found a channel to watch his golf. *pictures him huddled over his laptop watching a crappy stream just like we do trying to see his matches*
Q: The other day Tommy Haas said that sometimes Andy Murray is faking injuries. Do you agree with that opinion?
NADAL: I can’t say nothing wrong with Andy. He’s a great guy. In my opinion if we talk about what happened at the French Open against Nieminen that’s why probably. In my opinion, he never does this to bother the opponent. So, that’s the most important thing. It’s difficult to explain but I really believe in Andy. I think he’s a fair guy, a good competitor. I’m 100% sure that he was doing nothing to bother the opponent, to take advantage. The disadvantage was for him in the French Open against Nieminen when that happened in the beginning of the match. At the end, he came back. The real thing is when he was in injury in Paris at the beginning he was losing 6-1, 3-1. So, that’s the real thing.
Bromance - that’s the real thing.
Q: Is there an area in Kohlschreiber’s game you will have to especially focus on? His backhand, his forehand, his serve?
NADAL: He’s a very complete player. I played him a few times. You cannot say his serve is not good. You cannot say his forehand is not good because he does everything well. He’s not the kind of player where you can say, I have to hit against his backhand because he will do mistakes. He has a good chance from every place.
Find the places where he has a slightly lower chance - okay?
Photos from Rafa’s 2nd round victory over Lacko.
Photos by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images, CARMEN JASPERSEN/AFP/GettyImages, REUTERS/Ina Fassbender, and AP Photo/dapd/Joerg Sarbach
Rafa got his singles grass season underway today by playing #58 Lukas Lacko in the 2nd round of the Gerry Weber Open (aka, Halle). He broke early in the 1st set, but Lacko was able to break back and stay on serve until the 11th game. After a few break point opportunities, Rafa broke to take the first set 7-5. The second set saw Rafa go into steamroll mode. He’s through 7-5, 6-1. Next up is Kohlschreiber.
|Statistics on Serve|
|1st Serve %||71%||66%|
|1st Serve Points Won||28/37 (76%)||26/42 (62%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||10/15 (67%)||7/22 (32%)|
|Break Points Saved||0/1 (0%)||4/8 (50%)|
|Service Games Played||10||9|
|Statistics on Return|
|1st Return Points Won||16/42 (38%)||9/37 (24%)|
|Second Return Points Won||15/22 (68%)||5/15 (33%)|
|Break Points Won||4/8 (50%)||1/1 (100%)|
|Return Games Played||9||10|
|Statistics on Points|
|Total Service Points Won||38/52 (73%)||33/64 (52%)|
|Total Return Points Won||31/64 (48%)||14/52 (27%)|
|Total Points Won||69/116 (59%)||47/116 (41%)|
Today’s recommended reading:
"Soy feliz jugando al tenis. Soy feliz sin jugar al tenis" - an interview in Vanity Fair (by Marta del Riego). Here’s the mangle. (Thanks for tweeting, Atch2.)