Transcript of Rafael Nadal’s Post-US Open Press Conference
Here is the full transcript of Rafael Nadal’s post-US Open press conference, after losing in the final to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets, his sixth straight loss in finals to Djokovic in 2011.
Q. At any time was fatigue a factor in the match today?
RAFAEL NADAL: At the fourth. But, it was a tough match. Physical, mental, everything was, yeah, I think it was a quality match. Congratulations for him. He did great.
Q. Did it put you out of your rhythm at all, the long timeout he took after the first game of the fourth set?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry?
Q. Did it knock you out of your rhythm when he took the long injury timeout after the first game of the fourth set after you had just won the tiebreak?
RAFAEL NADAL: We are starting the press conference in a bad way, I think. (Smiling.) Let’s talk about the match. It’s not the right moment to find excuses if he stops the match there or if I was tired. I fighted until the last point. I tried my best in every moment. I am happy with a lot of things, much happier than the previous matches against him. In another things I’m not that happy. But in general I think he did great, no? I had my chances. I really had my chases. At the beginning of the first I had two games to love. The first set was playing really the well beginning, and I lost a little bit the way how to play and lost a little bit the rhythm. Happened the same in the second set. You know, with that very, very long game, finally I had a mistake with the smash. So few tough points for me during the match. He’s doing well. He always did well in these kind of surfaces. I always had big trouble to beat him here in this surfaces in the past. It’s not an exception now, especially because he’s doing better than ever. But you know what? I go back home knowing that I am on the way. You know, I like to fight, I want to enjoy about this battle against him. Six straight loses, for sure that’s painful. But I’m going to work every day until that changes. So I have a goal, easy goal for me now. It’s going to be tough to change the situation, but the goal is easy to see. To have a goal always you know how to work every day.
Q. Were you gaining some hope when you saw his back was hurting?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. My hope always is about myself, not about the opponent.
Q. Rafa, has Novak Djokovic taken tennis to an even higher level? Please talk about this incredible year that he’s had and what that means.
RAFAEL NADAL: I already said one hundred times. I don’t know if he’s bringing tennis to another level. For sure this season he’s doing fantastic. His level is really, really high. But when one very good player stays with that confidence and winning so many matches. And the matches that he normal win and the matches that you can win, you can lose, and you keep winning, and the matches you have a big chance to lose you keep winning, the season is probably impossible to repeat. That’s why. His level for sure is fantastic. He’s doing very well mentally everything. So just accept that. Accept the challenge and work.
Q. What made Novak’s return of serve so effective tonight? What was the mental challenge for you of facing break points so many times?
RAFAEL NADAL: His return is fantastic always, not this year. Seems like this year, you know, he learned a lot of things, and in my opinion it’s not like this. He’s doing few things better, but he was fantastic player before. And second thing, my serve worked bad tonight. That’s the true. If I have to say two things about I’m not happy tonight, it’s my serve for sure the first one. Because if my serve works really well, I know I have the challenge, the mental challenge for sure. Losing six times affects in the match, and you have to know that. And I know. I was ready for that. So accept everything, to fight every ball, and that’s what I did. So I’m happy about that. But I didn’t have free points during all that games. I didn’t have not one free point in both sets. A few moments that you are tired and the few moments you really need something, I never had these free points. Last year I had; I didn’t have this year. That change a lot the match. My serve has to come back to another level.
Q. What did you like about the way you played tonight?
RAFAEL NADAL: I liked especially my mental part. In the second set, for moments in the third set, all the set, having tough moments, but keep fighting and keep trying to find solutions. The fourth, even if he was very bad from the back, I was very tired. That’s the true, no? But for the rest, I think I started to play aggressive, a little bit more inside the court, and changing a little bit the directions with the forehand. When I go inside you had more chances to change the forehand to down the line. I felt he was tired, too. But, you know, I have to take something in the first or the second set. I have to take some advantage there, and I didn’t, because it’s normal if you didn’t take advantage when you have to take advantage. After for sure I fighted a lot, I ran unbelievable in the fourth set. So during one match like this, very hard mentally and physically, you do this. You go up and down. So was a little bit normal. The first game of the fourth was really important. I had the deuce and I tried to play aggressive forehand. It was out like this. So that was a tough moment, because starting the fourth with 1 0 break I had the chance, and I felt that was at moment. But after, you know, he called the trainer I played a so so game. It was very important game to save the second, because after I came back to the place with the wind with me, it was tough game, that one.
Q. You were changing the pace, slicing the ball deep to him at the baseline. He made some unforced errors when you sliced the ball deep. Were you sensing that?
RAFAEL NADAL: I tried to play a little bit more to the middle. I tried to change a little bit the rhythms with the slice.
Q. Seemed to be effective at times.
RAFAEL NADAL: You feel? (Laughter.)
Q. I thought so. As you point out, he’s always had a great return and probably a great forehand. What do you think he’s improved this year the most in his shots that has brought him to this level? Serve or…
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. I think he’s always ready to — he’s having less mistakes than before. In my opinion, that’s all. He’s enough confident in every moment to keep believing in one more ball, one more ball. So that’s why. I think his forehand is not more painful than before; his backhand is not more painful than before; he serve the same. So what I have to say is what I feel and what I told you.
Q. How do you look about Grand Slam result this year? Are you satisfied?
RAFAEL NADAL: About the Grand Slams?
Q. Yeah. You won Roland Garros but you could not win Wimbledon and the US Open.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t feel any obligation to win the tournament. That’s the true, no? I am not that one that feels that the final is a bad result. I don’t consider myself that good, you know. I fight to be always there. I fight all the time to win every match. I appreciate the result. Final is fantastic result. Winning ten Grand Slams, this year I won another one, Roland Garros. I lost six finals, but I was there. So, you know, it’s smart accept the loses with the same calm as the victories, and keep working without thinking on the past. I was in the final of Wimbledon, final of US Open. I fighted both of them, especially this one. I go back to Spain more happy today than after the Wimbledon final, because after here I think I am on the right way to try to win him. After Wimbledon I didn’t feel that. That’s it. He was good. He did really well. Last year I won three Grand Slams; this year I won one. I played three finals, and I think I played the last six, eight Grand Slams I played around semifinals. So for me is a fantastic result. It’s a dream result.
Q. That long game in the second set, I think game three, how deflating was that on your serve to not come out of that when you put the overhead in the net?
RAFAEL NADAL: I keep fighting. I fighted a lot to come back in the second. I was ready to accept the challenges and to accept the problems. The problem is, I told you, I didn’t have free points. The serve didn’t help me. I didn’t start the points with an advantage tonight with my serve. That’s a lot. So I don’t think I need an ace or a winner serve, because I think I have enough good forehand later to have the control of the point. But a lot of times I started the point in the worst position than him when I was serving. So that’s tough.