The transcript from Rafa’s semifinal presser is up.
Q: Well, congratulations on your win. You are playing very well. What was the difference between the 1st and the 2nd set.
NADAL: The first set was unbelievable how David set the match with amazing rhythm and aggressive and long. His movements were unbelievably good and so I did the best possible best for me to be 3 3 so on … the thing that I tried to do was to maintain the score close and when he plays at the beginning of the match I tried to concentrate on the serve to contain the score equal – after first 7 games of the match the game is more equal – before it was not.
AKA - I was trying to save my ass by at least not losing my serve since I wasn’t seeing opportunities to break.
Q: David played aggressive in Barcelona. Did he play more aggressively here today than there?
NADAL: Yes – I think that the quality of tennis in the first set of the game was higher today than in Barcelona and that was my feeling and I had the fantastic match yesterday and so I didn’t play well it was because I couldn’t. His shot was good and aggressive and I did not have time to hit a ball with normal conditions and all the balls that he sent were very aggressive and very difficult.
As has been discussed in some comments in the match thread, I don’t think he’s saying he can’t play well 2 days in a row. He’s saying he played well yesterday, so today’s bad play wasn’t due to a lack of form on his part - it was due to Daveeed’s excellent play.
Q: Can you tell us the satisfaction of being in the final here in Rome?
NADAL: Best thing possible after a fantastic time in Barcelona and Montecarlo, to keep playing in clay tournament and then in the final without losing a set is something fantastic and I am happy. To play and win 2 tournaments and play it the final of this tournament. Tomorrow is difficult and important match and an important match ….. but if I don’t have rhythm tomorrow ….. We can forget the the tournament of Madrid – that wasn’t clay. My feeling are fantastic all the time. Rome for me is a important tournament and I am here for the 7th time and I cannot imagine this a few years ago. I am satisfied mentally the first set but I was focused and I was there and trying to wait the moment and in the second .. he was a little tired.
He was defeated in that second set…well before it ended.
Q: Having won the first set ……… inaudible…….
NADAL: In the second round you cannot think about finals before Saturday afternoon and that was my feeling just being in the final is good and anybody will be good and tomorrow I will play my best and hopefully I will have my chances.
Q: You asked for a TV for this evening to see the Novak against Roger or the other TV with football?
NADAL: I think I cannot see the tennis in my hotel. I don’t have the channel. I don’t have the channel and I would like to watch a little the football but I have my family here and my mum and sister and if we don’t have dinner tonight. Better go out and relax a little – today it was a hard one and tomorrow another hard one.
He didn’t even watch his beloved footie? I wonder if that would have been the case if Real Madrid was playing….
Q: You have played a lot of tennis in the last 2 - 3 months. Physically how is your knee?
NADAL: In February in Majorca I was practicing and playing and in Montecarlo and Barcelona and the knee was good and when I am fit and I practice and compete and just think of the ball and running against the opponent – this is the first thing that you have to do and I am enjoying tennis. A close season and there is a good race and very few points in the top 3 and I an happy to be part of the group and tomorrow will be a great final and last year was a great season and not necessarily of the results but I felt a little tired that usual and so tomorrow… .
Wow. I hope this is a really super horrid transcription. If not, that first bit was extra rambly.
Q: You said before that you don’t really care who you have to play tomorrow because anyone is a great opponent. In the case you win the tournament, is it more important to beat Djokovic to as you lost 2 time for the first time on clay and beat him on clay or is it more important Federer.
NADAL: I have a different perspective of the competition and sport that you and for me the important thing is to win the title and not against Djokovic or Roger and for me the important thing is to win Rome. If I win against Roger it will be a it will be fantastic game. If win against Novak it will be also – he is a most fantastic player of the moment and Federer …… Probably the important thing is the tournament and this is from my heart and I say this to you
You go, Rafa.
Q: You talked about the first set but not about the second set. You said that your performance .. was the best match this year. Was the second set better?
NADAL: After playing 1 hr 30mins of the second set for the loser it is tough the second set and I started the second set with the same determination as the beginning of the game and he lost his intensity and a little bit down mentally and so I went 7-6 and then 30 and he keep going and then he made a fantastic effort and then he lost the game. With the 3-1 the match is not there. The second set I played well and when you play this high level the rhythm makes the difference. My feeling is that is was better but today was different against Berdych and was attacking from the beginning but I couldn’t hit the ball today I couldn’t and so I was fighting against his backhand but today I didn’t have that chance and if I hit a ball short and he put me in a bad position.
So, Daveed followed the Nalbandian/Davydenko plan for beating Rafa - take time away from him. Worked so well for them for awhile and has been copied by so many. The problem is executing that plan to perfection for an extended period of time.
Q: You have an excellent start on you serve – have you any explanation why it is so this week
NADAL: Don’t forget my 2 double faults …….. you know the serve is important and being a good serve – for everybody not only myself and so if you serve like today against the best player of the world and you start to lose the serve you wont win the match for sure.
So, please don’t serve like you did against Daveeed. Okay?
Rafa’s second round presser is up. It’s another short one. I actually had a funny twitter exchange with the ASAP Sports account and the last short transcript. They said that with a lot of the local media being Spanish speaking, most of Rafa’s pressers are in Spanish and they don’t transcribe those.
Q. Do you feel it was an easy night tonight, very easy?
RAFAEL NADAL: I never feel an easy match at this high level of competition, no? No one match is easy, no, even the score was very easy.
Because 6‑2, 6‑Love is a big difference in the score but not in the tennis, no? Every point, you have to fight every point. Every point is tough. You have to find solutions every moment.
And Giraldo is a very dangerous player, no? He hit the ball very hard at the beginning of the match. I thought it’s gonna be a very difficult match, no, 2‑All, Love‑30, anything can happen.
Later I came back in that game with few good serves. I think after that I didn’t have mistakes. I played very solid match with no mistakes.
You know, when I had the chance to hit the ball with my forehand, I did. I think I did a very good match.
A lot of people think that Rafa’s being falsely humble with that “every match is difficult” thing. But I believe him. I think getting into and maintaining “match mode” in his head is difficult. We can see that it’s harder these days than it used to be…or he’s just showing us more these days…or I’ve stared at him and done too many couch potato analysis sessions in my head.
Q. Do you feel extra pressure in Miami because you’ve come close as a finalist but have not won here yet? Do you feel more important to win in this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I answered the other day. But, no, the answer is no. I try my best in every tournament, you know. I believe that almost every 1000 tournament are the same.
Every one is very important. It’s true for the Latin crowd, that makes this tournament very, very special. I would love to win one time in my career, but I did well. I played three finals; I lost all three. I played, I believe, quarterfinals few times, too.
So I am here, and I’m gonna try my best for another year. But seriously, I don’t feel more pressure here than the last week in Indian Wells, no?
I would love for you to win it at least one time too, Rafa.
Rafa’s pre-touranemnt presser transcript is up on the official site.
Q. What are your thoughts about being here during a hurricane, and how will you spend your time?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know what’s going on, I think. Nobody knows exactly what’s going on, no? But having the club closed, all the places in Manhattan will be closed, so not much. Just stay in the hotel. Maybe watch some films. But we will see what’s going on. I never had an experience with a hurricane. Is something new. I think is very bad for the city, for the weekend, for everybody. But, you know, that’s a new experience, and not enjoyable experience, but we know how is when is hurricane.
So, you won’t spend it huddling in the closet with a flash light, a bag of Quelys and some Nutella? ‘Cause that sounds like a good plan to me.
Q. How are the fingers?
RAFAEL NADAL: Much better. I am able to practice with normal conditions.
Q. Bandages? No bandages or anything?
RAFAEL NADAL: Bandages, yes. The skin is still very thin, but it’s fine.
No surprise he’ll still be wearing them. Better to be safe than sorry.
Q. A lot of people have said you’ve been stymied, you’ve been flummoxed by Djokovic this season. I mean, do you feel like if you possibly meet him in the US Open this week or next week that you have good chance against him?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I am here. You know, I am here at the start of the tournament and you start to talk about a match against Djokovic. I have to win a lot to play Djokovic. And probably him, too. He’s not in the final yet. I am focused on try to play well and try to have very good practice this week. That’s what I am doing. And the good chances against Djokovic, those chances always depends how I am playing, how he’s playing. Not talking about here, talking in general. After we will see, no? I think I played a fantastic year this year. I had a lot of victories all the year; I am not happy about how I played against him.
We will see what’s going to happen. And glad to hear him say he wasn’t happy how he played against Nole. That’s step one in doing things differently next time.
Q. Could you talk about exactly what happened to your fingers? You got burned in Cincinnati at some restaurant, right?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I get burned in a Japanese restaurant. Probably, you know, the Teppanyaki grill was there, probably the plate. When I arrived at the restaurant the plate was there, so probably the plate stayed there for a long time. Not inside the grill. Something like this away to the grill. You know, when they put the food, I tried to put the plate closer to me and was obviously very hot. (Smiling.)
Q. So your pointing finger and two fingers?
RAFAEL NADAL: Two fingers.
Ah, he was trying to get closer to food. This explains so much.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about this book? Was it important for you to do something like this?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it is something that we decided to do. Was the really first autobiography I was able to do. Was a good opportunity to work with John Carlin. We had a very good feeling together. He speaks in Spanish, too, so it makes a little bit easier everything to talk about the emotion and to talk about, you know… I think it was a fantastic experience. I talk a long time with him and remember a lot of things that you normally usually don’t think about the past, no? So when you start to talk you remember, yeah, few moments of your career, few moments when you were a kid. Was interesting and I had fun, and hopefully the book will like to the people.
I think the book likes the people just fine. So far, the feeling seems to be pretty mutual.
Q. In the book where you talk about your parents’ separation, it seemed like it came out of the blue for you, that you did not realize that they were having any troubles. Is that right?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t understand that very well. (Translation.) You know, what happened there was but in the book - I never talk about my personal things in the press, but, you know, all the changes in your life needs a little bit of time. That’s what happened. So after a little bit of time I was perfect, but, you know, at the beginning it’s tough. But, you know, I am not the only one who has the parents divorcing in one moment of my life. Only thing is that Mallorca the family is very important, you are very close of the people that your friends, your family. So any change in this part, these people close to you, affects you, no? That’s happened. That’s past.
Q. I understand how it affected you. What I don’t understand is how you did not see problems between your mother and father. You did not notice problems between your mom and dad?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know the problems, but anyway, I gonna repeat you, I don’t want to talk about that now.
Good for the reporter to not let him off the hook by “misunderstanding” the question. And good for Rafa for standing firm on what he does and doesn’t want to talk about (as frustrating as that is for us).
Q. How does it feel to come here after having you won it last year? Do you see the tournament different? Is it less pressure because you won it once?
RAFAEL NADAL: The emotions probably are a little bit different, because when you come back after the victory of last year the emotions are higher. Of course, it was the last Grand Slam for me to complete all four. Was very, very nice moment of my career, one of the biggest moments of my career. That makes the comeback a little more special. But if we talk about the goal, is the same. Play well, try to arrive to the final rounds. That’s the same, no? Pressure? I don’t feel extra pressure. I am happy about how I did. I didn’t play very well during the summer, but I am practicing much better here. So we’ll see.
Hope the good practices continue and pay off.
Q. Have you been surprised this year by the turnaround, where before it was you and Roger for so long at the top, and now all of a sudden - Djokovic didn’t come out of nowhere, but he really has jumped up very quickly this year. Have you been surprised by that change?
RAFAEL NADAL: Djokovic didn’t arrive this year, no?
Q. But he was not playing at the level that you were…
RAFAEL NADAL: He was No. 3 of the world for three years. That’s not bad.
Q. But he only won one slam.
RAFAEL NADAL: Only one, and most of the people never won one. For me is a little bit strange about the people here from tennis talks about Djokovic, about his big new improvement. Djokovic was here before, no? Djokovic played fantastic before. He had fantastic potential to be where he is today. He’s doing great. He’s playing without injuries. He’s playing very solid, the mental, the tennis. What he’s doing is something very difficult to repeat. For me surprise? I think for everybody surprise see a player that he’s not losing. He’s only lost two matches during all the year. For everybody surprising, but for me is no surprise that Djokovic is No. 1. For me is not a surprise that Djokovic is able to win Grand Slams, because he’s very good. That’s not from six months ago.
I really don’t get all this “shock” at how well Nole’s being playing. Not at all. He’s always had it - just had problems with the mental part.
Q. Two questions: One, you’re 25 years old. Does it feel strange to have a book about your life at 25? And second, you seem like generally a pretty private person. What did you want to tell? What did you want to accomplish with this book?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I am lucky. 25 years old and I enjoyed a lot of experiences in my life. You never know if you can have another book in the future, but I felt it’s a good time to have that one. Is a little bit of the history of my life. Is a little bit of the history how I am where I am today. Just open a little bit more of my life to them, to the fans, to the people who support me, the people who are interested about me. For me, you know, now I am a little bit more open with the fans with the Twitter with the Facebook, and now with the book. So I am trying to be more connected with them, and that’s probably a good way to do it.
Or, you could just drop by the house anytime. That’s a good way too. Not practical for you, but good for me.
And a few photos from the presser and one random practice photo:
Photos by Julian Finney/Getty Images and AP Photo/Frank Franklin II