Monday, June 7, 2010

Number 1 and French Open Champ once more!

Now that the dust has settled on the Clay Courts of Roland Garros for another year.Players can reflect on their two weeks.For me watching the final the one thing that moved me was seeing after Nadal had just won and was sitting head buried in his towel releasing enormous "sobs" and one could see the build up( and let me say it was a year in its making )and the release of all that emotion as he sat on center court.All those hours of rehab, the lows he suffered with defeats, his own personal family grief and the self doubt that comes in your lowest period.Nadal finally released all this and for me I knew how much this win meant to him.Nadal is a class act and anyone that follows his after match interviews can tell that he is very humble to achieve the success he has had. He said “When I was crying after the match, the last thing I was thinking about was the number one ranking,” Nadal, who matched his 2008 feat when he also won the title without dropping a set, told reporters. “The first thing is the title and all the hours I worked to be here another time.”His uncle, coach Toni summed up what it meant. “For Rafael it’s more important to know that he is one of the best clay court players in history,” he told reporters.There can be few arguments about that as Andy Roddick said on his Twitter site: “Rafa Nadal… best ever on clay — period.”Nadal was just too good, he served at 76 % for first serves in and this was a key as I said in my post yesterday to get control of the Soderling return..... by serving such a high percentage of First serves in this allowed him to do so.Nadal was back to moving like no other player on tour can do, one example he turned defence into attack finishing at the net with a drop volley.Soderling tried but he could not break the consistency and the will of the Spaniard and was forced into errors.Congratulations Rafa you proved that you are back and what better way than to beat your Nemesis of last year in the final.We look forward to Wimbledon and the next chapter.Below is a transcript of the interview after the match

Q. I think we could tell by your emotions afterwards that it was a really, really special day for you. How special was it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. Very important victory for me. I think one of the most important victories in my career, I think.
Yeah, I told you 100 times, but was a difficult year for me the last year. So after this tournament last year was a difficult year, and I worked a lot to be here. I was very nervous during all the tournament, because I know before that that I was ready to try to win another time, and I saw the chances there.
But the very positive thing is today I was ready to play. I was ready to play with calm and to try my best and to enjoy the match.
I did, and was a very special day.

Q. You got Roland Garros title again and return to No. 1 ranking. So right now, which is more important for you right now?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me, I told you too, no, yesterday and a lot of times, I think that for me it's Roland Garros. This is the most important thing for me, no? (Pointing to trophy.)
After the No. 1 is there, yes. But I was No. 1, and believe me, I am very happy. When I was crying after the match, the last thing I was thinking was on the No. 1.
The first thing is the title and all the hours I worked a lot to be here another time.

Q. Holding back that trophy that had been yours since 2005, and that desire to want to hold it back again after losing it last year, does that explain how you fought in the breakpoints that Soderling had? You didn't lose any break points. Did you put like extra, some super concentration on those points?
RAFAEL NADAL: I try my best in every point.
I am in the every week we have weekly, the players, and we have the statistics, and I am the No. 1 on break points saved of the year. So specialist. (Laughter.)

Q. You always defend very well, but today you are against a guy who has a very big game. Your defense seemed even better than at some times in the past. How did you...
RAFAEL NADAL: Was very difficult to play against Robin. I think he's a great player. But at the same time, very difficult to play against because he has a big serve, very flat shots are long from the baseline, very good shots from both sides, forehand and backhand, and is very difficult to control.
It's almost impossible to have the control of the points against him. Today I felt great physically. I felt perfect mentally, too. I run. My movements was much better today than the rest of all the tournament.
So I am very happy how I played today, because I play with very good tactic, I think, and the movements was at my best level today.

Q. You win so many titles. Why do you say this one is the most important?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I didn't say it was the most important. I say it is one of the most important.
Is important because is one of the most important because I had difficult year, and for some moments was difficult to accept the injuries and everything. You know, for moments you don't know if you are ready another time to compete, you are 100%.
At the same time, sometimes is a big frustration when you are in US Open and you broke your an abdominal one week before and you are in Australia and have to retire during the quarterfinals match.
So all these moments are difficult to accept. I was there all the time, and for that reason, today is a very, very special day for me.

Q. Two days ago you said you preferred a sunny day, like sun is energy for you.

Q. But today is not very sunny day. It was rainy in the morning. So could you explain what kind of condition it was out there today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe I had a mistake before to say I would love to have a sunny day. Maybe it was better to have a day like today, cloudy. I don't know. I don't know.
My feeling before the match was we have a sunny day with hot, the bounce gonna be bigger and gonna be easier for me to control his ball.
But in the same time, this year the court is more slippery than usual. With this weather, the court is more normal clay court, you know.
At the same time, I can run better. I feel more (through translation) stable on court than when the court is very dry. So that's the very important point for me today.

Q. What I think you said was that this was the most emotional moment of your career.

Q. No?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn't say that. (Laughter.) I say it is one of the more important moments in my career. But no, final of Wimbledon was amazing; second title here was amazing, and the first one, too.

Q. When you won, did you feel that this was a triumph of all the hardships that you've experienced over this past year?
RAFAEL NADAL: The feeling is when you win you know how many hours you had on court, how many hours you was thinking and working to play your best tennis, how much time you wait to win another time a title.
For me was 11 months without win a title, so a lot of tournaments going back to home without a victory. A lot of moments, difficult moments, because in a few of these tournaments I had to retired for the problems.
So is difficult moments to accept I say before, and this, sure, it's very important for me. It was personal goal to be back at my best. So I did.
And for me, sure, the important thing is Roland Garros. But for me the biggest thing is the personal satisfaction to be here, to be here another time and to be at the top level.

Q. I don't want to move on too quickly, but can you confirm, when will you first step on a grass court, and how is this gonna help you with your preparations for Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: The title here? I didn't understand.

Q. Everything that's happened here...
RAFAEL NADAL: The confidence always is the most important thing. So winning here and winning the last 22 matches on clay is always very good preparation for grass.
So tomorrow in afternoon I gonna be practicing on Queen's for not a lot of time. For 45 minutes. Maybe I will love to play doubles on Tuesday there to prepare.
And later, sure, I gonna play, I think, singles on Wednesday. So I love this tournament. I love Queen's always. I enjoy a lot to be there. It's different tournament because you play in a club. That makes the tournament very special.
I am feeling great all the time there.

Q. Was there any point in the past year where you feared that you would not get back to this level of tennis? Did you fear that, you know, to yourself, Maybe I won't be there?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure. I think everybody have doubts, have his doubts on himself, no? I am not an exception.
And, sure, for a moment when I worked a lot at home during all December, my feeling was I was in perfect conditions to try to win in Australia because I played really well in Abu Dhabi and in Doha, too.
And when I had to retire from there was very difficult moment. Go out of court in any tournament is very hard, especially in a Grand Slam.
Sure, the biggest or most important thing is not the match that you are losing the match, the harder thing is you gonna be another three weeks without practice at home recovering. So that's hard for me.

Q. When you were sitting on the bench today with the towel in your face, in the towel, what was going through your mind?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I was there crying, but was really emotional moment for me. But probably is because of the situation. I didn't thought about a lot of things but the moment, and after, a lot of nervous, a lot of pression for me and a difficult year.
After you win this big title is, everything is you lose your tension. I don't know.

Q. Did you learn anything this season about how much is necessary to play before coming into Roland Garros, and how does your body feel now compared to previous years?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn't understand the first thing.

Q. Did you learn something about how much you need to play before the French Open this year? Second, how does your body feel physically compared to the last few years coming out of this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. You know, I played three tournaments before Roland Garros. That's the usual thing. In 2005 I play three, I think. Yeah, I played Monte Carlo, Barcelona well I played in Valencia, but I played Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome. I didn't play Hamburg. 2006, I played Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome. I didn't play Hamburg.
And 2007 and 8 years I played all four. But I don't know. It's depends of the moment. I think for me this year probably because I had a lot of problems on the knees, so I decided to play only three weeks.
But you never know in the future what's going on. And, sure, three tournaments the problem on tennis is you can't say, I gonna play three tournaments, because if you lose early you play five matches.
So is depends of the matches you play, no? If you win three, sure, it's enough. But if you lose in the first round, second, third round, this can't be enough of tournaments for me. So depends of the victories.

Q. Can you compare physically how you feel now versus last few years?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, physically I feeling great. I didn't have any problems, so that's the most important thing for me. Because if I am healthy again, enjoy playing tennis, that's the main thing.
If you have problems, is impossible to enjoy and is very difficult to play at your best, because you have too many problems. If you think about the knees, you can't think about the ball.
You can play with pain, but not... (through translation) You have a pain that limitate your movements, is impossible to play at the best level.

Q. Because you weren't able to defend your title last year at Wimbledon, do you go in with the mentality that you are a defending champion because it's your first opportunity to go back? What sort of mentality will you go in now that you are once you again French champion?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, see the points I have, so everything is improve. No, no, I not going thinking about I was the last champion. Two years happen after my victory, so a lot of things change.
I gonna try my best like I did every year to arrive there in my best conditions. Last year wasn't possible. This year I gonna do the same like I did every year: play Queen's, have a few days at home, and before Wimbledon practice there. Wednesday I think I gonna arrive there.
And that's all. That's all. That's what I can say I gonna do. I gonna try my best every day to adapt to the grass as fast as possible.

Q. Do you feel like the best ever on clay now?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, I sure that the numbers are unbelievable for me, no? I never thought to have the chance to win this tournament, five titles, five times or Monte Carlo six or Barcelona five, I think, too, or Rome for me five.
For me, that's more than a dream. When I see these titles and these numbers, for me is amazing. I don't know how I did.
But first of all, you gonna be very arrogant if I say for myself I am the best of the history. Second thing, I don't believe I don't believe I am the best of the history. I try my best every day, and we will see when I finish my career. I not gonna be who decide if I am the best or not. You maybe, but not me, sure.

Q. Will you celebrate tonight, or what are the plans?
RAFAEL NADAL: Difficult to have a big celebration if you have to practice tomorrow. (Laughter.)

Q. No party?
RAFAEL NADAL: I gonna have time, eh? At the summer at home after Wimbledon, Mallorca is unbelievable celebration to do. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish, please.

Q. Let me ask my question again. You spoke in French to the French crowd. Will you end up being a diplomate?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I'm not very smart with languages, but I have no shame talking in a language which is not mine. I was very shy, but I'm recovering from that. I have no problem with that. At the beginning I spoke very bad English. I could not understand anything, but I have improved.
As for French, I understand French pretty well. I can understand almost everything when they speak slowly, because it sounds like the Spanish and the language we speak in Mallorca, so I can try and speak it even if I speak it badly.

Q. Why would you bite the Cup each time? Is there a story behind that?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I did that in Monte Carlo for the first time during my first Masters, and then the journalists asked me to do it again for the picture. I do it just to please the photographers.

Q. The Spanish flag you were supposed to wear, were you wearing it today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's a fan who gave it to me in Madrid, and he said it's going to be good luck.

Q. What kind of objectives do you have for Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I'll be top seed in Wimbledon, because that's a tournament I am very comfortable with. But please let me enjoy this day before I start talking about Wimbledon. Please give me that time to savor the moment, because it's really a special moment for me.
Tomorrow when I start practicing in Queen's, then we can start talking about Wimbledon. But first, let me appreciate the day. I was very fortunate my friend Marc accepted to play the doubles with me. So I'll prepare to get ready for the tournament in Queens.
This is a big favor, because I don't think I'll be his best partner in doubles. But I'm very happy. I'll try and practice and spend as much time on the court this week to, you know, find my momentum on grass.
That's my objective. I'll try and arrive as prepared as possible to play my best Wimbledon ever.

Q. One of your major objectives was Roland Garros, and you won. Now, what's your second most important objective? Would it be to be No. 1 in the world, to win Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think winning any other tournament would be better for me than being No. 1 in the world; winning at Wimbledon or the US Open would be incredible for me.

Q. You're back to your 2008 level. You even exceeded that. How far are you planning to go, and would you say that you're in the same shape as 2008 or better?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don't like making comparisons. I don't want to compare, and I don't want to compare to 2008. I'm very happy about the way I play.
I'm very happy I can play. And as you all know, Roger Federer played very well and he was very happy he played in Australia and Miami, and it's just the same for me.
I'm just happy I can maintain my game at this level for as long as I can. And to achieve that, I need to be in very good health. So I do everything I cannot to get injured. That's how I can go through difficult moments.
You always need to learn from difficult moments to face the future.

Q. Could you explain your tears? Were you crying of joy?
RAFAEL NADAL: Relief, joy. Joy, certainly. It was a great personal satisfaction, because my family, my team, myself, all those who supported me and helped me be back...
Well, it's true that I played this tournament with more anxiety. I was slightly more nervous than usual. I went through difficult moments because I couldn't find, you know, my momentum on the court.
Then it was very emotional, you know, winning, and last week Astruch died. I was very sad. I couldn't attend the funerals, and this was a delightful woman. We miss her, and that was very sad for me.

Q. Can you tell us again the relationship you have to this clay here in Paris?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, how can I say? I mean, when I was a kid, I did not consider myself as a clay court specialist. But apparently since 2005, well, clay has been the surface of which I achieved the best results and which I best adapted my way to move and to play.
Apparently my game is perfectly suited to this surface. I love it with all my heart, because it gave me so much joy. Winning here in Paris is ever so special.
All tournaments I win give me huge satisfaction, but winning a Grand Slam tournament here in Paris, despite the fact I lost last year because I was not well prepared and I had very low morale last year, as well.
But this time I'm back. I'm back and I win. Maybe this is the tournament I most wanted to win.

Q. So you've equalled McEnroe and Wilander's record. Do you consider yourself as a great tennis player?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, that's exactly the kind of question I don't like, because then people say I'm arrogant, that I'm fat headed. What do you mean, being a great player?
As I said, I try to play my best tennis, to play my best game, to do everything I can. If figures and statistics say I've been a good player over the last years, well, I'll continue and play as best as I can to maintain those figures as long as I can.
As I said, it's a huge pleasure for me to be here in Paris. I am in Paris. I won in Paris. I'm very lucky, and I was very fortunate in life to have had the opportunity of experiencing all this at the age of 24.
Never in my wildest dream would I have dreamt of such beautiful presents. Life was very kind to me.

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