Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Rivalry

The only person that can beat Nadal at Roland Garros is Novak Djokovic as seen at the weekend when he beat Rafa in the final of Madrid.Watching the match I have to say that Nadal was beaten by a better player on the day.Forget the Federer/Nadal rivalry its a no contest , Fed is on his last legs and it will be hard for him to reach another grandslam final.Nadal maybe had a wake up call he has to come up with a better game plan against Djoker , whilst in the interviews he says his forehand side was not as good as it could be, Djokovic really pressed Nadal's backhand side , whilst Novak's backhand was excellent! Djokovic also moved better and outlasted Nadal on the long rally's which must be a real worry to Uncle Tony!Below are some excerpts from both players press conference after the final.


Q: Beating Rafa on clay in Spain must be very special?
A: It is a very special day for me because it’s the first time I managed to Rafa on clay I’ve played a great match from the first to the last point. I got to the court believing I can win and that was the only way that I could get a win in the end.

Q: What you have been doing since the start of the year has almost been real: do you get the feeling that it is almost a dream?
A: No, I’m trying to stay dedicated and focussed on what I do. There are no secrets. Things came together for me. I am a more mature player and more matured person so I just know what to do on and off the court. Luckily for me I have a great team of people with me on and off the court that shares the ups and downs with me so for me then it’s easier to perform well on the court and relieve the pressure and everything that comes with professional tennis. I am trying to think about winning and not about losing. I know that this run that I have is really incredible but I try to think about how long it’ll go and when I will be beaten. It’s how many more wins I’m going to have. Every time I go on the court I’m motivated to win and not thinking that this is the day I’ll lose.

Q: As well as your play, you have to manage your physical conditions and well because you’re playing so many matches; how are you feeling at the moment?
A: I feel great. The only day I felt a bit heavy on the court was yesterday. Today I felt fresh on the court. It was an exhausting match both mentally and physically and that’s normal against the world no.1 and every point took maybe 10/15 rallies at least so I needed to work hard for my points but I managed to do it really well. I’ve been in the situation before where I win a tournament and have to play the following week. I know what to do. I have a great team of people with me who know what to do so I’m sure I can recover.

Q: Nadal said that with this trend he will not be able to keep the no.1?
A: If I keep winning I’ll get closer but I’m trying not to think about that. I just started the clay court season. It was a perfect start with the two tournaments that I won and I need to stay dedicated and focussed on the upcoming events because if I want to reach no.1 I have to play consistent because that’s what Rafa will do and the rest of the players. It has changed, I have a different mindset right now, I’m more stable and I know how to think right.

Q: You’ve won Australia, Indian Wells, Miami but beating Rafa here in Spain, is that the biggest accomplishment of the lot?
A: Probably it’s up there at the top. I agree that under the circumstances I was playing an unbelievable match. But I was expecting all that – playing him here at home in front of his people. I know how it is; two years ago we played another great match. All three matches that we played this year were really long and were decided by a few points so am just happy to be able to play the best tennis when I needed to. This was something that was lacking in the past. I didn’t believe enough that I could win against Rafa or Roger at these big tournaments but now it’s different.

Q: You’re now even favourite to win Roland Garros. Do you feel like that?
A: I think that Rafa is still the favourite. I’ve never won Roland Garros. I’ve played a couple of times in the semis. Probably because of my winning streak I am one of the favourites but Rafa has lost only one match in his career there. It is my goal for this season to try to go all the way in Roland Garros and I’m setting up my form for that.

Q: You were 4-0 up in the first set and then he came back; did you think that you were in danger?
A: I had a great start to the set and it was my fault that I dropped two breaks and let him back into the match. I know that Rafa will never give up. He’s a great competitor and he never gives you any free points so I know I had to play well especially at this level because things can turn around easily. 


Q. I suppose that you are sad for losing a final especially on clay considering that it was the 37th one without losing – matches that are not finals?
A. In front of me I had a really good player. He’s playing at a really high level. We’ve got to accept that. When someone is better than you there is nothing you can do other than congratulate him and that’s it and look forward to your next tournament and try to keep up, see what you’re missing, what you’re doing right and face forward with the correct attitude nd with mental strength. You have to be cold, mentally speaking, and you have to look for solutions. Try to be better, try to practice and next time I’ll try to do better.

Q. Rafa you were saying the last day that to play very good is the exception; Today was one of those matches where things were not working the way you wanted?
A. No, things were not working out. I tried to go out there and do my best. It wasn’t my best day on clay – that’s a fact. I don’t think I played bad, I think I play average and playing average against Djokovic is not enough. That’s what happened today. You’ve got to play more aggressively but to do that you have to feel the forehand a bit more. His backhand did me some harm and I had to go a bit in the centre – there was nothing I could do about that. I will have to take that into account the next time. The match started bad and then I had to fight but he was better and I have to accept that. I’m sorry for the crowd, the people who have been supporting me here a lot and I’m really emotional playing on this court. Always playing in front of the Spanish crowd, especially the Madrid crowd is something unforgettable and I can only do it once a year.

Q. Do you have any opinion of Djokovic’s celebration out there? Do you think anything is going to change for Rome or Roland Garros especially due to the altitude?
A. I don’t know if anything is going to change. You’ve got to make things change, they don’t change by themselves. I’ve been having a really good season and if I hadn’t had someone like Djokovic on front of me, who has won all these matches, I would’ve been having a better season. But there is one who is having a better season than me and I have to accept that and give him my congratulations. an you change it? I’ve won two tournaments, I’ve made it to five finals, winning three, losing two and my season is quite positive. What am I going to change? It depends on me and on him, it’s not just the two of is – there are many factors. You don’t just play the final against Djokovic; you are fighting for it from the first round. About his celebration, well, each one can celebrate in the way and he can take his moment the way he wants. Good for him.

Q. Is it a psychological problem to lose three times against the same player and after seeing how Djokovic is playing are you frightened of losing no.1?
A. I don’t think I can lose no.1. If I lose no.1 it’s not the end of the world. If I lose it I will be no.2 and I’ll be very happy. I’m just happy to go out on court and have the feeling that I’m competitive and I still have this feeling but at the moment I haven´t been able to beat him but I’ll try to work and I try to beat him. The good things will come and you´ve got to be patient. I’ve won a lot of things in my career. I’m 25 years old and I’ve played more than I ever dreamed when I started. I thank the people who have been with me whether it was my family when I started or other people and I just have to be thankful for everything that I’ve got. I’ll be back. In your life there are highs and moments, I am not on a low, I’m on a high but my opponent is at the highest point in his life. I’m not going to make a drama when the other one is better than me.

Q.Rafa is this loss in Madrid tougher than the one in Indian Wells or Miami?
A. No, Miami’s loss was much tougher without doubts. I was much closer then to the victory and well then I finished destroyed physically, today it was different. No one likes to loss but I think that comparing loses- you know some are tougher than others, this one has a plus which is that we have played in clay, which is always something special. But to lose is normal you know, it’s not normal to get on the court win Roland Garros, Monte Carlo, and Barcelona… Those things are fake, they are movies and you only get to see these movies on TV. If no one has manage that in the history of tennis well it was pretty complicated that I managed it during two consecutive years. I am very happy I said that from the first moment. I am glad of everything that has happened to me till today. When I was playing my first match in Monte Carlo if anyone had come to me and told me to sign this 3 or 4 weeks ago, I would definitely do so. I am in a privileged position of the year, it’s true that the Race distances a little bit. But it´s also true that I have shorten 1500 points thanks to Barcelona and Monte Carlo, I get 400 more and also the distance from 3,4 and 5 are bigger now. My first objective of the year is to classify myself to London’s Master. Which is little by little closer, I don’t like to say that it’s done until it is not done mathematically talking. It’s pretty close; something really horrible must happen if I don’t manage to make it. I have to keep on working to continue meeting my goals and my goal right now is to end up us high as possible in the ranking, I’ve got to try and play my best in Rome, Roland Garros, Queens, Wimbledon…

Q. Rafa I would like to ask you about his mornings training. Did you finish with good feelings this morning?
A. Are you worried about my training? Well they were quite good actually; I started the match quite well. I started the point 40-0, I did a really good game, he did the break because I was unlucky, and he played really good though. Afterwards he has been playing really well; maybe I committed a couple of errors. He has played fantastically till the 4-0, he has been aggressive, didn’t commit any errors. And even when I was not playing that bad I didn’t have any options.

Q. Rafa what do you think were the important factors that decided today’s match?
A. I don’t think I played my best tennis. He played well had fantastic moments. It was very difficult to stop him when he played his backhand. It was very very aggressive and he opened the court very well. I think I played a little bit short at times. I have to play more aggressive with the forehand, when I touch the ball with the forehand it has to be better. That’s what I have to do in the next tournaments and not just against Djokovic. I think I practiced very well here before the tournament. I didn’t play my best in the semis and the final – the conditions here are always a bit more difficult but that’s not an excuse.

Q. Were you surprised by how he played, particularly those backhands?
A. He is plating fantastic. He is playing aggressive, without mistakes. His movements are incredible. I just have to congratulate him for all he’s doing wining all the matches this year. It’s something very difficult to repeat.

Q. You had a great match here with Novak two years ago….
A. I don’t think I had a great match two years ago here. I think I had a terrible match – very emotional for sure but I think I played probably worse than today.

Q: How much has he improved in those two years and what has he improved?
A. He’s playing very well; he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s focussed all the time. When you are winning every match you must be going something very good. He was always very good and when he plays with that confidence it’s very difficult to beat him. I don’t think he improves something unbelievable, he was always very good. He has a lot of talent to enter the court and control the position and he’s able to do it very do it easily which is an advantage.

You can read a lot into either interviews , but one thing that is clear they are the players that will reach the French Open Final unless a huge upset happens.The way Djokovic is playing he is the favorite in my mind.

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