Rafa’s 4th round presser transcript:
Q. Obviously today you were feeling pretty awesome on the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I feel good, no? After the beginning I started, when I had the first break, I started to play very well.
Before I didn’t play fantastic, but it’s true that he started the match playing aggressive, having good shots.
In my opinion, he was unlucky, unlucky in the first set. That’s my feeling, no? 6-2 was too much.
Later, sure, very happy the way I played. I feel very, very sorry for him. I think he’s playing probably the best tennis of his career, but probably not today after, especially the last set, no, when he start to miss, you know. I saw him a little bit, you know, suffering a little bit on court at the end.
He’s one of my best friends on tour. I feel very sorry for him. But same time, you know, he’s playing great. He’s having fantastic results. He’s No. 14 or 15 in the world today.
I wish him all the best for the rest. If he continues like this, he will have good chances to keep going.
It’s not to bad when it takes the likes of Rafa and/or Nole to knock you out of a tournament. So yes, Pico’s been doing well.
Q. I have question I know everybody already asks you, but we saw you have kind of habits on court. For example, you always tidy up your bottles of water on the changeover. Can you explain this? Does it help you? What does it mean for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, it’s something difficult to explain, so better not. (Laughter).
Q. Maybe one of the reasons you play so great this year the balls are different than last year, they are softer. Do you agree with that?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s difficult to analyze these kind of things, no? But I play better the clay court season before this tournament, too.
I played better in Australia. So, in general, I am playing a little bit better tennis, no? Probably a little bit more aggressive tennis than last year.
But forget about comparisons. I am playing well. You have to look always at yourself, you know. When you are playing bad, it’s because is my fault, so when I am playing defensive, is my fault. When I have mistakes, is my fault.
So when I’m playing well, is because I’m doing well. Not because of the ball help me, no?
So everything is this way. I always try to analyze the ways like this. Not trying to put excuses when I am playing bad. When I am playing good, it’s because I’m doing things well. Not because the things are helping me.
So the balls are not the same in every tournament. I’m playing well this year almost in every one. That’s the important thing.
But is true the balls are a little bit softer, especially in days like today. But don’t forget that I like a little bit quicker conditions that I play today. I like a little bit higher bounces than now in these conditions.
People think he’ll always opt for a slow conditions…but slow, damp and humid often means low bounces which take away one of his biggest advantages.
Q. When you’re up 6-Love, 5-Love, what are your serves? Do you think about the score? Did you look at? Do you care about what Juan Monaco is thinking? Or are you just into your match and nothing else matters?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, that the feelings are a little bit difficult to analyze, because for a part, for a way, you feel a little bit sad for the opponent, because I know he start to accept that you are losing 6-Love, 5-Love.
But, at the same time, the tennis isn’t a sport that you cannot relax not one moment, no? Because that’s the sport. I lost a match this year in Madrid against Verdasco with 5-2 in the third, two breaks.
I tried to be focused and tried to finish the match as quick as possible.
And that’s the best way to do it: To respect the opponent, to respect everybody, my opinion. Try my best in every moment.
Yep. I’d take a beatdown over a pity win any day.
Q. A question about Almagro, the next round. Everybody is saying is very dangerous, and you faced two times here in Roland Garros, two different matches. Can you talk about him? Why is he so dangerous?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s so dangerous because he’s good. That’s the first. That’s the first thing. He’s good.
He has fantastic shots, no? His serve help. He has a very good serve. First and second serve are fantastic.
Then he — after this serve, he’s able to play aggressive, no? He’s able to hit the ball in the right conditions, in a good position. It’s very difficult to stop him, no?
So my work have to be to put him in difficult positions, try to play long, try to play a little bit to the sides, to the angles, make him play a little bit more uncomfortable. That’s what I have to try, and that’s what I will try. Always is difficult to do it against a player who hit the ball very hard.
Getting to the core of the matter: good = dangerous. And suddenly, I’m picturing Rafa trying to tie Almagro up into knots.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.
Q. I know that in Seville, after winning against Pico, you said you were sorry for the way you played, even though you played a fantastic match. How did you feel when you were winning so easily? Because he’s your friend.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s always the same when you win. You know, the player always has to adapt to the very end of the match. Even though I was up at the beginning, you know that there are differences between us.
But then everything is possible. Sometimes you can start the beginning of the match is easy, and then afterwards it gets worse.
Sometimes I’ve played matches that were really tight, and then this match we played I would turn the match around and then I could control and dictate the game.
What is very important is to think about the future points. This is one of the most important tournaments this year, so if I’m to lose, it’s because the other player plays better than I do; not because I have not paid enough attention to this match.
We have to think about each point even when you’re up. Because, you know, Juan plays at a high level, and, I don’t know, you know, he’s played this match after very important moments in his career. He’s really highly ranked, among the best ones in the world. In Rome he almost defeated Djokovic.
He won at Houston during the semifinals of Miami, and he played well, as well.
He didn’t have any luck whatsoever during the Monte-Carlo tournament.
He didn’t really have much luck recently.
No luck at all in Monte-Carlo and it’s amazing that he’s been able to recover so quickly. Hard work in that.
Q. What about today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think that now he’s in the locker rooms. I’m very sorry for him. What can I say? Well, I would tell him, Don’t you worry. It’s going to be better afterwards. You’ll feel better afterwards.
Yeah, what can he say? Nothing, really.
Q. You’ve really played a wonderful type of tennis. What are the keys to win against Pico? Because he’s an excellent player. So what were the keys that you found for this match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the first break really helped me considerably. And, also, I think that today is the day when I served really my best serves. My percentage was a bit better than any of my previous percentages. I served faster, as well, which is also something very important. What else could I add?
The next thing that’s important is that I didn’t make any mistakes. I missed not many points. Pico was starting really hard. I had to move around quite a lot.
Then I started attacking more, and I realized that he’s not hurting me any longer.
At the beginning it was good for him, but in reality it was not really the case, you see.
One could have the impression that he was an attacker, but I was feeling comfortable. I was waiting for “the” moment when I knew I could attack him. You know, when you attack someone and then you counterattack, it’s very difficult.
I felt, as I said, quite at ease on the court today. Maybe because it was quite heavy out there. I mean, the weather was.
He was attacking, but he couldn’t take control. He didn’t have the upper hand. You know, when this happens once, twice, or thrice, I can say, you know, I was a bit lucky. I was a bit lucky because I could return all of his points.
From what I’ve read, Pico started the match playing attacking tennis - knowing he had to go out of his comfort zone to beat Rafa. He was brave enough to try that and gave Rafa a little bit of trouble, but the problem with playing out of one’s comfort zone is it’s very difficult to maintain.
Q. Now, considering today’s opponent, he’s ranked 15, and you’ve won 19 games in a row. We have not seen such a thing for years at Roland Garros.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you know, to me, it’s the only thing I could do so that I could fight back. This does happen in special circumstances. But I’m not certain that this could be repeated again. It’s due to circumstances, the conditions that were all favorable at this moment in time. This is how I managed to win these 17 games.
The result is such that I was about to say that what I did is something I did well. I didn’t make many mistakes. I’m very consistent in my game. This is my plan, the one that I have always decided to stick to. The most important thing is to go through to the next round. I’m very happy to have done that.
As I said before, I said this result is lopsided. I shouldn’t have this type of score against one of the best players in the world.
But you did…
Q. Everybody is saying it’s your best Roland Garros. You have not lost many points, not many games. It’s your best Roland Garros. What do you think about this?
RAFAEL NADAL: To tell you the truth, I have no idea. I play really well. I know that. I have reached quarterfinals. I feel really comfortable, really at ease.
You know, when the tournament is over, I’ll tell you if this was my best Roland Garros or not. For the time being, I’m still playing, so far, so good. But we’ll see. Some things might change.
It’s a very tough tournament, you see. So there’s no moment when you could say, Oh, this player is playing well, and therefore this is going to continue.
When you reach quarterfinals with my results, that’s always something positive, that’s true, okay. These are the quarterfinals, and, okay, I have won quite easily. My results are good. But, you know, I’m not going to go through immediately the semifinals. It’s still the quarterfinals.
The most difficult thing is yet to come.
As usual, living in the present and knowing the future can hold good or bad.
Q. Tony, that is Almagro’s first coach, told him that to be the second player to serve on the court is always more easy.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, if he wants to serve first, okay, but why would he say this? I don’t know. I think it’s better if he serves first rather than me first.
Depends on the player, I guess.
Q. Each day Federer beats a record. You could do the same, I suppose, during this tournament. Now it’s going to be your seventh win.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, listen, I think that everybody keeps on beating your records daily. You’re talking about these records, but I think that some records are not that important.
Someone’s tired of talking records.
Q. My question was what are the records that are very important and the ones that are not? Seven wins at Roland Garros is probably something very important?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it’s very important to win Roland Garros each year. For me, the first one was very important, the second time I won was very important, and the third one, as well, successfully. Each Roland Garros tournament was important. And for me this French Open is as important as the other six. No more; no less.
He loves all his children equally.
Q. If you win seven you’ll beat Borg. You’ll be in history.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, yeah, okay. But, to me, as I said, what is very important is what do you do daily. What do you do daily is the most important thing.
For me, a seventh Roland Garros win is not more important than No. 2, No. 3, or No. 4. What really is important is what it brings me personally. If I win this one, and it’s the seventh one, is it more important than 2006 or 2005? I don’t know.
It’s a personal feeling, a personal sensation, and, you know, records are all very important. But that’s when you’ve finished playing tennis. When you finished that, you’ll think about this.
But, otherwise, when you’re playing, you think about what you have to do daily.
Personally speaking, I’ve heard a lot about records. Roger has many under his belt. And if I look at Federer, he’s beaten a number of records. And in the recent past I’ve heard some. People have talked about them. They might be excellent.
But why? I mean, why should we talk about them? He’s beaten so many of them. So maybe I don’t know. He’s going to be No. 1 again. This would be what I call beating a record.
I really, really think Rafa’s tired of talking about records.
Photos from Rafa’s win over Monaco.
Photos by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/GettyImages, Matthew Stockman/Getty Images, REUTERS/Nir Elias, REUTERS/Francois Lenoir, AP Photo/Michel Euler, and JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/GettyImages
Poor Pico. He’s ranked #15 in the world, having a good clay season, and is good friends with someone whose level is so ridiculously high on clay that the crowd gets happy when he manages to win a point. A point. Not a game. A point. Yeah, the beatdown was that bad. Rafa defeats Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 and will play Almagro in the quarterfinals.
|1st Serve %||69%||72%|
|1st Serve Points Won||29/42 (69%)||21/44 (48%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||14/19 (74%)||3/17 (18%)|
|Break Points Won||8/10 (80%)||0/2 (%)|
|Total Service Points Won||43/61 (70%)||24/61 (39%)|
|Total Return Points Won||37/61 (61%)||18/61 (30%)|
|Total Points Won||80/122 (66%)||42/122 (34%)|
|Net Approaches||10/13 (77%)||8/14 (57%)|
|Fastest Serve Speed||203 KMH||197 KMH|
|Average 1st Serve Speed||186 KMH||173 KMH|
|Average 2nd Serve Speed||142 KMH||148 KMH|
While lazy me is exhausted from cleaning 10 years worth of clothes out a closet, energizer bunny Rafa has flown to another country, attended a ceremony where his foundation received a check from the ATP, and practiced for two hours with Pico. How the heck does he do it?
Rafa does social media:
And here’s a few photos:
Photos by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images