Rafael Nadal's interview before the start of
Q. When you look
at the top four seeds here, knowing how comfortable you
all are on grass, how strong would you say those four
players you, Roger, Andy and Novak are right now?
RAFAEL NADAL: I
think we are playing well. I think Novak had a fantastic
season. The first six months was really unbelievable.
Roger, I think, had a very good season, and especially at
this last tournament in Roland Garros played fantastic,
in my opinion.
And Andy, too, no?
Andy, he had a very good start in Australia; after he
have one month little bit probably tough for him, because
after losing the final of Australia was a tough moments
for him maybe. But he had a fantastic clay court season,
and he arrive to Queen's and he won the tournament, so...
Well, I did very well the first six months. I lost a few
finals, but I was in all the finals. I won three, and I
won Roland Garros a few weeks ago. Was a very important
title for me. And I'm here. Forget about the past.
Just looking about this tournament. Going to be always a
big challenge. But I love to play on grass. I love to
play in this fabulous place. So I am excited to be back
Q. I was wondering, Andy Murray said today that he
took inspiration from a conversation he had with Jose
Mourinho last year. I was wondering which sportsmen you
might have had conversations with in the past who have
given you inspiration, a fellow Spaniard, maybe someone
from a different sport?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I never had idols. I love the sport
in general. For me the sport in general is the
inspiration. Because watch the sport from the TV or live
is something special for me. I love to do it.
When you see some emotional moments on the TV in
different events around the world, tough situations,
that's inspiration, no? And just have the chance to live
one of these moments in my sport, on tennis, that's
something really, really excited for me, no?
So my inspiration is every day. For me I love to play big
matches. I love to play in big stadiums like here,
historic stadiums like Wimbledon. So for me, tomorrow I
start playing the first match of the tournament in the
Centre Court; for me is a dream.
Seriously, that's my inspiration, trying to live these
Q. Have you been inspired by Rory McIlroy?
RAFAEL NADAL: For sure, what he's doing is really
something unbelievable. I met him in New York last year.
Well, I love golf. I follow almost every week the tour.
Seriously, I love watching Rory, no?
He's probably one of the nicest swing in the world, if
not the nicest. Seriously, is fantastic watch him what
he's doing in this tournament. Always I will be
supporting him this afternoon, because I think he
deserves the title. He's playing better than other one.
He had a very tough fourth round of Augusta this year,
and he deserves to win a major because, in my opinion,
right now he's playing at a different level than the
rest. So for sure is an inspiration. I admire him a lot.
Q. You said a few moments ago you love to play on
RAFAEL NADAL: Uh
Q. Why? What do
you enjoy about playing on grass, and was it that way for
you from the beginning or did it come eventually?
RAFAEL NADAL: I always liked. I said one thousand times
that my dream always was play well here in Wimbledon.
That's true. In the beginning of my career everybody
talked a lot that with my style of game gonna be always
very difficult to play very well here.
But I worked a lot and I put all my best in every
practice. I did my best since the start of my career to
play well here, playing the week after Roland Garros,
coming here one week before, having the right preparation
as much as I can to be ready for this tournament.
And the grass, the only problem of grass sometimes, is if
you play against a big, big server, because the game is
too fast and is not nice to play, no, because you feel
that for a lot of games you don't touch the ball, no?
But if you play against a normal player, a good serve
that you can return the ball, in my opinion, the game
from the baseline is fantastic to watch and is fantastic
to play because you can slice, you can go to the net, you
can play aggressive.
If you play too defensive is impossible to play here. But
you have different options to do. I love to do that.
Q. How comfortable are you approaching the net on
grass, and have you tried to incorporate that more and
more in your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always is the same: If you are playing well
and if you have the confidence to hit the good shots, you
gonna be closer to the net and you gonna have more
chances to go to the net and to finish the points there.
On grass, the surface helps you to go a little bit more
to the net. That's something that is not a problem for
me. I don't have the volley of Roger, for sure. But I
think I'm fast and my movements are enough good to go to
the net. Seriously, with no any ball, but go to the net
with a good ball, I think I have enough experience and I
have enough good volley to do it.
Q. What were your thoughts when you heard there would
be a rematch of the Isner match, and what do you remember
about last year's Isner Mahut match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, sorry for them (smiling). No lucky
first draw, no? Because both players have a very good
potential to play very well on this surface: big serve,
good with the serve, good movements, good volley both of
them. So is tough, because one of them gonna be out the
Last year was a fantastic match. Probably what the match
means for everybody was fantastic to watch, but tough;
was too many aces. But the attitude and the example what
they show the rest of the tour and they show the kids
was, in my opinion, fantastic with the right attitude all
the time, fighting all the time, spending 11 hours on
That's something almost impossible to repeat. So was one
of these matches that gonna be in the memory of this
sport forever. So that's something special for both of
them. The only thing that I can do is congratulate them
for what they did last year, and good luck for both of
them this year.
Q. How excited are you with the Olympics coming to
London next year, basically two Wimbledon tournaments
next year? How much of a goal will that be for you in
RAFAEL NADAL: Olympics are a very special event. The
experience that you can live on the villa, and, you know,
live these moments with the rest of the sports people,
that then is something special, no?
And for me be there in Beijing 2008, enjoy these two
weeks on the villa with the rest of the sportsmen around
the world, but especially from Spain, was unforgettable
for me. Be in the ceremony of the first day is something
that you don't know if you gonna have the chance to
repeat in your life. I enjoyed a lot this experience.
The Olympic spirit is very special for these sports that
they don't have the same luck than us. We have a tour. We
have a lot of people working for our tour and having
everything. That's true.
You watch a lot of sports, a lot of sportsmen, they try
they best, they practice as hard as they can for four
years specially for that event. I know all the categories
have World Cup, everything, but the Olympics are the more
Probably that's a lot of pressure for them, and sometimes
they don't have enough facilities to keep working for the
next four years. So is something for me very difficult to
explain in English, but I have a really strong idea about
Q. You're looking forward to coming back to Wimbledon
twice in a year?
RAFAEL NADAL: For sure, yes. I hope so, if I qualify
(smiling). If not, wild card (laughter).
Q. Can you tell us what you've been doing since
RAFAEL NADAL: I've played fantastic rounds of golf.
(Laughter.) Best two weeks of my life in Mallorca, yeah.
I went out for one day for party with the friends. I stay
with the family. I spend the weekend with friends,
family, relaxing a little bit. That was something I
I didn't spend the weekend at home since the Davis Cup of
Belgium in February, so I needed. I enjoy a lot. Monday I
started to practice. Tuesday, too. Wednesday I was here
practicing in afternoon. So that's all.
And here these days was hard because...
Q. You've won four of the last five major events, and
now you're closing in very quickly on Roger's 16 major
RAFAEL NADAL: No.
RAFAEL NADAL: I am
not close than the 16 of Roger's; 16 is a lot. What do
you think (smiling)?
Q. It could be
three or four by the end of the year if you win here and
the US Open.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah.
I don't know. We can dream about a lot of things. That's
dream a lot. For me is a dream. Maybe not for you. You
watch that in a different perspective of mine. I saw that
very, very far, how tough, how competitive is this sport.
Last year was, in my
opinion, very impossible to repeat: three Grand Slams in
a row. So this year I am very happy about what's going on
the season. But repeat what I did last year is something
that I for sure don't think.
Q. Do you think turning 25 you're still improving as a
player? Are you getting better all the time?
RAFAEL NADAL: I try.
I don't know.
Q. Do you think
you're a better player now than you were at 22, 23?
RAFAEL NADAL: In
2008 I play very well, too. I don't know, no? I think I
try my best every day to keep improving my tennis. I wake
up every day in order to practice with the illusion to be
better player than day before.
But be better player
doesn't mean that you going to win more. Because win or
lose depends of different facts and small things. So I
think I'm more complete player than few years ago, I am
sure on that.
I don't know if I will win more than few years ago
because I told you before, win or lose depends on how
mentally you played the decisive moments, depends on a
lot of things, so...
I am sure that I am a better player.
Q. Can you describe what you think the pressure is on
Andy Murray here at Wimbledon in his home country.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well,
the pressure is tough, but at the same time, the support
is high. So I prefer have this pressure than don't have
this pressure. That's what I can answer this question,
That's true, play at
home one Grand Slam is something special. Lot of people
talking about his victory or he can win. Is true. But at
the end of the day, in my case I don't know for him but I
can talk about my experience. I don't read a lot about
the newspapers talk about me or about the television says
about me. I try to be focused about myself.
For sure is very special play at home. But when you go on
court and see all the crowd supporting you is something
very, very emotional and very special. I would love to
have this feeling.