ROLAND GARROS

 

June 9, 2017

 

Rafael Nadal


Paris, France

R. NADAL/D. Thiem

6-3, 6-4, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Please tell us what it feels like to have the opportunity to win your 10th trophy here at Roland Garros, and also the chance to create even more history.
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I don't make more history, no? It's enough. 9 are more than good. Another thing is today is not the moment to think about that. It's the moment I have to be very happy.

Played a very good event, all the matches playing well. Today was not an exception. Starting a little bit more nervous today, normal, but then I played well, I think. It's true that Dominic played with more mistakes than usual, probably.

At the same time was windy out there, and he didn't play in the center court before that match. Probably that was not helping him. In general, to be in the final again here probably the most important event in my career. Means a lot to me, no? Just very, very happy for everything, and I gonna try my best on Sunday.

Q. You just touched upon Dominic Thiem and his performance. How does it compare with how he's played you in other tournaments? When did you get a sense, perhaps, that maybe he wasn't at his best?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, it was a tough match, no? Before the third set was a tough match. No, no. In the third set it's true that when I had the break in the first game, then he played with more mistakes.

But before that was I think a good match, and he had -- he was a little bit unlucky, in my opinion. He had 15-40, 1-All, 15-40, 3-1 for me, 15-40 too for him. So he didn't convert the chances, and that's change completely the match. And the real thing is in the beginning of the second set with 1-0 for him, then he had another 15-40.

So these kind of matches, you don't get that opportunities, then you are in trouble, no? He had opportunities in the first, opportunities at the beginning of the second, and then I think I played well, no? I played a solid match and was tougher for him.

Q. You have lost a total of 29 games on your way to the final. Does that surprise you in any way, or do you just feel the ball that well right now? How do you feel going into the final? Treating it as just another match, considering you have been there, gonna be there 10 times?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't care about the games I lost or not, or sets or these kind of things. Only thing I care is I have been playing very well during the whole event, and I was able to win all the matches. That's the only thing that really matters, no?

I am very pleased with everything that happened since the first day that I arrived here. For me being in the final always going to be a very positive result.

Now remain one match against a very tough opponent, and he played a very tough match this afternoon, so he will be full of confidence for Sunday. And he's a very dangerous player because he can hit the ball very hard.

I need to play aggressive, I need to play long, I need to try to don't let him play from easy positions. If not, I gonna be in big trouble, and that's my goal.

Then anything can happen, and I hope to be ready for that.

Q. Stan played more than four hours 30 minutes today, pretty brutal and intense match. Do you think on Sunday it could play a part?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't think so, no. I think he's playing very well. And I think more than physical issue what happened with his match today gonna be confidence for him, no?

Gonna be a tough one. And Stan won the last event in Geneva and now he's in the final here. So he's in a good run. He's in the final. So it's the toughest opponent possible here.

Q. Toni said you worked a great deal on your forehand during the offseason. Could you just talk about that and how you think your forehand compares now to what it was in the recent past?
RAFAEL NADAL: In recent past was no forehand because I have injury of my wrist. So was no chance to hit good forehands.

I think I recovered the forehand last year. I was playing well with my forehand again, but then I take injury. It takes a lot of work and long time to recover that positive feelings and that confidence with the forehand after 2015. That was a very tough year for me.

But finally, when I get to the point that I could start playing every week having positive result, that's what happen when I started the clay season. In Indian Wells, for two months I was playing very well and competing every event for everything.

So I get injury. So was too short, the period of time. Then I come back for the Olympics, US Open, but too many problems on the hand. I was not able to hit the forehand normal.

Then I had to stop. I had my treatment. Worked well, and that's why I was able to work for one month and a half very well, and it's no secret. It's only about being healthy and having the chance to work as much as I want and the things that we wanted to work, no?

If that happens, then the chances to be very competitive and the chances to be playing well are much higher. Problem is during my career I didn't have a lot of periods of this one month and a half without problems physically to work as much as I can.

Q. A year ago, could you bring yourself to watch much of the tournament after you departed? Did you watch any of the semis or final last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I watch some matches of my friend Marc Lopez playing doubles and Feli. And I watched the final, yes. I didn't watch much more. I watched the final, everything, the whole match. I didn't watch the rest of the matches.

I went with the boat with my girlfriend. So that's all. I was trying to forget a little bit about tennis for a couple of days. But the final between Andy and Novak was a final that I wanted to see.

But before that, after what happened, I needed to turn off a little bit (smiling).

Q. You're on the brink of doing something that no one has ever done before in the Open era to win 10 Grand Slams at a single event. Given what you have been through with your physical issues in the last 12 months or so, would that be your greatest-ever achievement, and what would it mean to you to do it?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I think I always say the same, but it's true, no?

9 or 10 is only 10% more (smiling).

Is true that 10 is a beautiful number, but actually my favorite is 9. But for sure it becomes 10 will be my favorite (smiling).

I don't know. The thing that I am more proud about my career probably is the 2013 year, no? 2013 was amazing. Because I had too many problems on my knee, so I was not able to practice at all. And I finished the year being World No. 1, winning here, winning the US Open. So that's the thing that I am more proud.

I don't know. 9 here is probably difficult. I always say the same. If I did, probably gonna come somebody and gonna do it, because I don't consider myself very special.

But is obvious that you need to combine a lot of things, and a lot of things have to put together to have that record. And if it's 10, even more. You need to be lucky, you need to play well, you need to be healthy that week, that two weeks. So it's a lot of things.

I am not the right one to say, but play 10 finals here is something difficult.

Q. You have won the title so many times here. I think no one would blame you if you would forget some of how you did it. How much of the details do you remember of each specific win here?
RAFAEL NADAL: You don't want to start now, no? You don't want me to talk here for a while (smiling).

I remember years more than others. Obviously there is a couple of years that are a little bit more special than others. But I have a good memory, no? I remember almost everything.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. I don't know if this is what you had in mind. Did you expect today's scenario?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I saw the other match, which was very long, so I started to wonder if we were going to play the whole match today or if possibly it would be interrupted and finished tomorrow.

Today we have the two best players. The four remaining ones played today and now we have the two finalists.

I think today I did what I had to do. Again, when there is a four-and-a-half-hour match before you, you know you're going to have to play fast. I guess it went well. I was able to play the match in a fairly short amount of time, and I won.

Q. How would you compare your level or your playing style with the style of other players? You know them very well. How do your styles compare?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think that I played very well this year since the beginning. In previous years, there have been occasions where I didn't play very well at the beginning, and then I got better.

This year I played very consistently from the very beginning. I practically won everything. To do this, you have to be extremely consistent, very focused.

Bottom line is I'm very satisfied. I enjoyed today's match. Tomorrow I will be doing some serious training.

Of course, you know, the more you go into a tournament, the more difficult the matches get. Sunday will be a difficult one.

Q. Last year Wawrinka said that when he's in France, nobody can stop him. What do you think of him?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we'll see on Sunday. It's true that when he hits hard, he hits really hard. Stopping him can be difficult.

Again, as I said before, I do not want him to play his game, which means I need to make sure I don't let him be in that position where he can hit hard.

I will have to do everything I can to keep him from playing aggressively. If I can play long balls, if I can hit hard, if I can do that, well, I think I will be hopefully able to control him.

I know he's dangerous when he plays aggressively, so I need to limit his possibilities. I will play very aggressively, and I don't want him to take control.

Easy to say, but it may not be that easy to do. I have everything I need to play aggressively, but then of course I hope I won't be nervous. If I'm nervous, it will be more difficult.

If I can, you know, stay focused and if I'm in a good day, I think I can really challenge him and force him to take risk.
 

Q. During your career, you have had to stop several times because you were injured. In October, someone on your team said that mentally things were difficult for you. It seems, looking at you today, that this is now behind. Would you say that you are currently playing your best tennis and that you'll never be stronger mentally?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I don't even know who told you this. Either you misunderstood or they said something that wasn't true.

I was injured, but mentally I have always been strong. I have always been, you know, at my maximum. Even back in 2016, I had some difficulties, but my only difficulties back then were physical with my wrist. The reason why I stopped was not because I had a mental problem, psychological problem, it was only because I had a physical problem because I was injured.

I'm not the kind of player who goes onto a court knowing I can't play or knowing I'm going to lose because I have a problem with my wrist. At that point, I knew I had to stop, again, for physical reasons.

But again, mentally, I was very strong. Subsequently, when I recovered and my wrist got better, I was able to train and train well. I think with my team we did everything to take a fresh, good start. And again, fight hard. And now we are reaping the benefits of this.

Q. You told us that sometimes you were a bit nervous out there on the court and that sometimes being nervous had an impact on how you play. Today's match was very intense. You were hitting very close to the line. Do you think that the key for Sunday's final will be to do the same, play along the line to force Wawrinka to move and run?
RAFAEL NADAL: My objective is always the same: I don't decide to play along the line. I adapt. If he plays long balls, I will have to move behind the baseline. But generally, I combine different options. I can play volley balls on the side, behind the baseline.

Generally I like to play aggressively and attack. Sometimes I can't shoot winning shots from the back of the court, in which case I move closer, you know, to the net.

On clay, you need to find the risk/benefit ratio, strike that perfect balance which can make you win. Sometimes you can't spend all the time of the match close to the net, because rebounds change all the time.

Again, it's about striking this fine balance. You have to take risk, which means play aggressively. But at the same time, you need to know what the consequences can be.

Of course you want to hit the ball at the right time. Not too early, not too late, not too far away, not too close.

Q. We were all surprised because you defeated Thiem quite rapidly. It seemed easy. I think many people were expecting a much more difficult, tougher and longer match. What do you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think his third set was not good, but I think I just played a little better than he did. As I said in English, in the first set, you know, several times I was down 40-15, and he could not win the game. He had several opportunities, and he did not, you know, seize these opportunities and that is very difficult. Morally, it's very difficult.

My service was fine. In the second set, again, I was down 15-40. And you may think it's easy, but I think this was the turning point of the match. This is when things started to change.

You know, sometimes a match changes after the first game in a set. That's where you can sort of anticipate how the match is going to finish.

Again, he had several opportunities today, and he missed them. In the meantime, I played a very solid game. I never let him dominate the game.

I think another thing is that he never played on such a large court, you know, which is not my case, obviously. I think all these things combined explain why I won.

Q. The 2014 Australian Open final was an important moment for Wawrinka. Do you think this could be a revenge for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Revenge is not part of my vocab. I don't think it would be the right thing to do to see it as a revenge. In my mind, each match is different. Every single time I play a match, I consider the match to be important. The best player will win.

The final at the Australian Open, he played very well. If I hadn't been injured, I don't know what the outcome would have been.

But again, I think that trigger in his career happened before. He had been playing before that very well already. He had been playing great matches. He, you know, played against Novak. He was able to win a Grand Slam tournament, and that is generally a turning point in a tennis player's career.

He has demonstrated that during important matches, he was always up for the challenge.

Q. In English you said 9 was your favorite number. Could you develop on that?
RAFAEL NADAL: It has nothing to do with the fact I won the French Open 9 times. It's because 9 actually is my favorite number.

But again, don't get me wrong. I would prefer 10 over 9, no doubt.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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