Rafa's interview: Bleep the translator! I'm going to say this in English, damn it!
Q. Now everybody will have very big expectation for the next tournament. You are still preparing for Wimbledon going to Halle?
RAFAEL NADAL: So now I am very happy for won this tournament, and tomorrow I have flight at I don't know what hour for go to Halle. Is the first tournament in grass. And I will try improve my tennis in grass for prepare Wimbledon, no?
Q. What was the key for your victory today?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I think I fight every ball. When I have difficults (sic), when I have problems in the match, I fight, I fight, I fight every, every game. And after the first set, I lost in a tough tiebreak when I won 3‑1, 15‑40 in the set.
When I begin the second set, I stay better with the calm, because in the first set I am a little bit nervous. And I play more aggressive in the second and third set.
In the fourth set, I'm play very, very well, the set point down, no?
Q. In what way was playing your first Grand Slam final surprising for you and in what way was it not surprising?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, won here for me is a surprise, no? So I play ‑‑ I am playing very good. Like now, I am playing good like January. Like now ‑‑ I play very good all season, and I won the last three tournaments before this one. I won in Monte‑Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, and that is important for my confidence for in case this tournament, no?
Q. How do you explain that fighting spirit, that never‑say‑die attitude? Where does that come from?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, is a little bit natural, no (smiling)? I think is also my coach, my uncle, my family always say me that's the important, fight, fight and ‑‑
TRANSLATOR: Never give up.
RAFAEL NADAL: Okay, never give up (smiling).
Q. The 10th game of the final set where you finally fought through three set points and now you have a breakpoint. It was one of the most spectacular points of the match. From what you saw in your mind, can you take us through that point, how you won that point?
RAFAEL NADAL: So I remember the point, but I can't explain it in English (laughter).
Q. In Spanish then.
RAFAEL NADAL: (Translated from Spanish) No, because if I don't explain, you're going to invent everything afterwards.
(In English.) No, I return a little bit short. He have a big forehand. Return the ball. I stay like outside to the court, two meters down, behind. He send me the dropshot. I arrive very, very, very ‑‑ I arrive a little bit late, but I can arrive. And the volley for him is here and I stay a little, and I stay in the middle, he touch, I can return the ball and I can win the point, no (double peace sign with arms raised) (laughter)!
Q. After the match, what are you thinking?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. Is one of the best moments in my career, no? I am very happy. I can't say my feelings because that's unbelievable for me. Is a dream for me, won here. And when I won this tournament, I remember the bad moments when I practice a lot, when I stay young. So that.
Q. Which person you think of after the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: A lot of person, no? But especially my uncle and coach, because without him I never can play here.
Q. Do you think there is a lot of improvement in your tennis because you are a talent and you play so good? Do you think you need to improve a lot?
RAFAEL NADAL: I need improve every day. I only have 19 years old two days before. For stay in this level, I need improve every day. I need to improve in all surface. I need improve a lot my serve, because with this serve I have problems every game. And I want to practice a lot for improve all shots, especially the volley and serve for play better in indoor and grass, no?
Q. One of the reasons you're such a good player besides your quality of tennis is because you're such a happy person. You seem to enjoy people and tennis. Was it a great honor for you that the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, came to watch the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I like play tennis. I like the competition. Competition, is okay? I like the competition. After for me ‑‑
(In Spanish.) It was important for me that the King was here, and the Queen also. I was very pleased. It was a great honor for me to have the King of Spain here.
Q. Last year if someone came up to you when you were hear briefly and hurt, and they said to you, "Don't worry. In a year's time you will lead Spain to the Davis Cup title and you will win Roland Garros," what would you say to them?
RAFAEL NADAL: I never can think that, no? When I ‑‑ when I was the last Roland Garros one year before, I am home like this, with the foot, with my injury (putting leg up). I only think about this year and improve my tennis for won any year here. So I never think this year this is the good year.
Q. You will get a great welcome when you come to Wimbledon. Do you believe the way you're playing at the moment, you could challenge for the title at Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I think in grass I can't ‑‑ (In Spanish.) I can't challenge for the title.
(In English.) I want to improve, no? For that, I go to play in Halle this week, and I like a lot play in grass. I know is not my best surface, is a little bit fast. I need to improve some things in my game for play better in grass and in the fast courts. And I want to improve the serve and the volley, and for that I going to play in grass one or two tournaments before. And doubles, too.
THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions, please.
Q. When was the first time when you thought you would be able to be a great tennis player? When you won against Costa or when you won in Monte‑Carlo? When you won this year? At what moment did you start thinking you could become a great player?
RAFAEL NADAL: You can never think that you can become a great player. But since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a tennis player. I was even dreaming to be a professional tennis player, but I was not thinking about a ranking. It was just a dream for me. Little by little I am assimilating things. When you are little, you have goals. But as the years go by, the goals change.
When I started playing the first Futures, the Satellites, I was losing in the quallies. After, I was playing six Futures one after the other back to back and I was able to become in the Top 200. Two months later, I was Top 60 with three finals. Then I lost two matches in Monte‑Carlo and Hamburg. This comes little by little. You don't think about it from the start.
Now this year I'm among the Top 10 in the beginning of the year. Now in June I'm No. 3, which is something you can't think beforehand. I don't know if next year I will be back in the Top 10 or I'll be elsewhere.
Q. Are there more important moments than others for your confidence?
RAFAEL NADAL: The Davis Cup is a very important moment. The Australian Open was very important. I played very well there. I saw that I was able to win very good matches on other surfaces than clay. After, when the clay court season started, I played in Acapulco. I saw that I was playing very well. But I didn't know how I would react in major tournaments because I was not playing against the best players.
But when I played Monte‑Carlo and Barcelona, I was confirmed in my thinking that I could be good and I saw I could win major tournaments on clay.
Q. (Question in Portuguese.)
RAFAEL NADAL: You can be afraid in every match. You always have problems in each match. They are difficult moments. You try to overcome those moments. You try to be positive, as much as you can. Today I had difficult moments during the first set. I was a little bit nervous. I fought back all the time, but I was too nervous and I played too often defensively.
Afterwards, I was more aggressive. He got tired a little bit. I was able to win more easily the second set and the third said. For the fourth set, everything had to be started all over again. It was more difficult. Then you can be afraid again. It's normal.
I always respect my opponents. I know that I can lose against any player at any time. When you step into the court, you have always to think you can win, but you know that you can lose.
Q. Puerta says that you returned impossible shots and had no doubts. At the end of the fourth set, he said he thought you had doubts. He said he thought if he had won the fourth set, entering the fifth your chances were 50/50.
RAFAEL NADAL: Indeed, we were 50/50. In any kind of match in five sets, you are always 50/50 because you are two sets all. It's up to the one who will make the greatest efforts who will win. I was a bit nervous at that moment for the first set. Then he started making mistakes. I started playing well. I was more aggressive. I had my chances in the tiebreaker. I played incredible shots, I believe. I made an incredible passing shot. I really tried my best to win that set.
But, you know, it's a final in the French Open. For me it was not over. I kept on trying a hundred percent. I only thought about winning the first game of the second set, and that's what I did. In the second set, I saw that things were becoming very difficult because he was playing at a very high level. There were no gaps in his game. I had to run a lot. But I believe he had to play to his limit.
He was playing very well. I thought he would go down a little bit, and he would have a down period, but he played a hundred percent during the whole match.
Q. You were 3‑1, 15‑40, then he came back. Did you have trouble in the first set or did you think it would be easier?
RAFAEL NADAL: In fact it's just speculation. What is important is the result, the final result. That's reality. The rest, what could have happened, doesn't mean anything.
Q. How can you explain the feelings you had after the last point because you laid down on the ground? What did you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: It's something you can't explain. These moments are very strong. These moments are moments when everything comes upon you. All the work you've been doing during all those years, the sacrifices. When you reach your goal, it's an extraordinary moment. For the first time I cried after winning a match. It never happened to me before. I believe it's perfectly normal.
Q. The trophy which is next to you, you held it very strongly in your hands. What does it mean for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me it means that I am now at the same level as other great players having won the French Open, the ones I watched on television. To be on the same list as they are is a dream.
Q. What did the King tell you after the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: He congratulated me a lot. He said it's incredible what I did. He thanked me. He said that the Queen had to leave. But he congratulated me. He gave me his best wishes for my future.
Q. After the King, you went up the stands to see your father and uncle.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. I have two uncles, Rafael, Toni and my father. I went to see them. I was walking through the seats to see them. These are important moments. I didn't think I was going to cry, but my whole family was very emotional. In the end, I started crying also.
Q. You were saying something during the national anthem of Spain. You spoke with Zidane. How do you see him as a football player?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me it's a very simple man. He's one of the best athletes, the best players in the past years. He's really elegant, including on a soccer field. He wished me good luck. He congratulated me. He said I was a phenomenon. I told him that in the end, we finished the year very well, but not with Barca, but that Madrid had won all the matches back to back.
He wished me good luck and good holidays. He said that he was starting the eighth day of I don't know which month. That was the conversation.
Q. Did you believe Puerta would resist so much in the final?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, absolutely. I knew that I could lose. So, obviously, I knew he was going to resist. I was expecting it. Puerta is a very aggressive player. He was hitting me where it hurt. He made me move a lot and run a lot. I think this is the match where I ran the most in the whole tournament.
Q. What will be the difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: There's no difference. It's just an extra match. I'm always a 19‑year‑old boy who likes to do what he likes and nothing more. The rest is nothing. I will continue to be the same way I was before. I'm going to do the same: I will work day after day like I did my whole life and I'm not going to change anything just because I won this tournament.
Q. Compared to the four Grand Slams, where do you rank the French Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: All the Grand Slam tournaments are important. To win a Grand Slam is something very important. For the Spanish players also. This trophy for the Spanish players is No. 1, of course. Wimbledon No. 2. But every Grand Slam is different. For all of us it's a dream. But for the Spanish players, winning here is the top of the top, and I suppose that for Federer winning Wimbledon is the top. For others, it's the US Open.
I would be ready to take any one of them.
Q. To sum up what you are feeling, it's only a beginning. There are people like Wilander who are comparing you to Borg. You are still eager to play well, not only on clay, but on grass or other surfaces?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, now that mathematically I'm selected for the Masters, I will have to learn how to play on carpet. I never had good result on that surface. It's true that it's very difficult.
I would like to thank Mats Wilander for saying those things about me. I'm very pleased. But to compare me with Borg, it's not possible. My goal is to improve day after day on all surfaces. I hope that I will have a good result in Wimbledon. After that, I will keep on working to improve all the parts of my game. Apart from that, nothing has changed.
Q. You played very often cross‑court shots. At the end you hit a backhand, a forehand. Did you just think what you were going to do or was it just instinct?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sometimes the adrenaline is there. I wanted to be aggressive. With Federer, I already was very aggressive. During the last set I hit three winners. Here I played a backhand down the line which was a winner, and also a forehand which was a winner, because I wrong‑footed him.
I saw many matches of tennis, and I saw that those who win the point are those who are the most aggressive. Sometimes you try. Sometimes the ball goes out. Today the ball went in.
Q. Was it more difficult today or against Federer two days ago?
RAFAEL NADAL: Each match has a different story. Each match has difficult moments. I wouldn't say one was more difficult than the other.
Q. We have the impression that you don't feel the pressure. But for this final, did you feel the pressure?
RAFAEL NADAL: I always feel the pressure. I think everybody feels the pressure. All the big champions felt the pressure. Those from yesterday and those from today. What you have to do is control it. Some do it better; some do it not so good.
I had pressure from my first match here, during the first set, and every moment. The only way of finding a solution is to fight back, to move, to run, and to control your pressure. Sometimes I can control it and sometimes not so much.
Today it was difficult during the first two sets, but after I fought at a hundred percent and it's the only way of controlling the pressure. But it's true that at some moment some people choke with the pressure, but it didn't happen to me.
Q. Soccer is the No. 1 sport in Spain, before Formula One. Do you believe you can change this hierarchy and put tennis at the most popular point in Spain?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know what to answer. I don't think so. I believe this soccer will always be the king sport in Spain. I think there's a lot of enthusiasm about soccer. Last year, playing the Davis Cup was an excellent moment for tennis. The whole country was behind our team.
But since tennis is an individual sport, it's more difficult to have it accepted than a team sport. But tennis is widely popular. Many people follow tennis. Formula One, we have no Spanish drivers, and now we have very good drivers. It's a very popular sport.
My objective is to continue to do my job, and I would like to thank the people who are interested in me. As far as tennis is concerned, I will try to win.
Last edited by Tennis Fool; 06-05-2005 at 11:20 PM.