Q. You played a great match. Tommy tried everything. We saw you a bit hurt maybe with the knee, a bit injured.
Rafa: No, not at all. I'm perfect. I'm feeling well. The only thing is that I'm not comfortable right now in this chair.
Q. So you feel strong enough to continue here?
Rafa: Yeah, of course. I wish to get to the final now. I've won today's match. I played much better than yesterday. I'm glad.
Q. This year has been a success for you, but you don't want it to become a pressure.
Rafa: Yeah, this has been an incredible year. I didn't expect it to be this way when I started the year. But if things are this way, now I have this final period. I'm enthusiastic. I'm looking forward to resting then, and leaving Vienna's injury behind.
Q. I don't know if it's our fault that we are pessimistic, then euphoric, but do you see yourself in the final?
Rafa: I see myself in tomorrow's match against Stepanek, quarterfinals. That's all I see. He has been playing great. On this court, he's going to be a very, very difficult opponent. All the finals I've reached this year have been this way, thinking just about the next match.
Q. Will this bring you memories of the Davis Cup or is this a different story, completely different story?
Rafa: That was my debut in the Davis Cup. I remember I won an important match in my career in the Czech Republic, at 2-2 to go to 3-2, I remember. That was an important match in my career obviously. I have a good memory of that.
This year I've played twice on clay, and those have been tough matches. I won 7-5, 6-2 or 6-3 the first one, and Rome I lost the first set 6-4. I remember I lost two serves in a row, and then I won the following set 6-1, 6-3. He's a tough opponent. Let's see what happens.
Q. You've had time to improve your serve as well as winning 10 tournaments. How do you do this? Do you train?
Rafa: Actually, we have very little time to train this year. But I think you improve match by match. I'm very happy with my serve right now. That's been very important for me to climb in the ranking. I'm aware that I need to improve my serve still, to get higher in the ranking, and be more confident with it.
Q. You said your knee is fine, it doesn't hurt. Tell us about it. Do you feel fine, comfortable?
Rafa: I feel nothing right now. My knee is okay. This morning it did hurt a little bit when I woke up, but then when I started warming up and training, I've done well. I hope to keep this way. While it doesn't hurt, I'll keep on playing and hope to win.
Q. The score against Robredo reflects what the match was or was it more difficult?
Rafa: I think I've been superior in my play, played better than him. I don't know if 6-2 is a bit excessive, but I've been consistent without making errors. A victory is what I deserved, I guess.
Second set, I was calm, playing well until 3-2, 15 Love. I made the dropshot. 30-15, I made a double fault. Then I thought 3-3. That was tough. Then I played a good point, which was decisive for the match, 4-3. 4-4, then things came quite clean. Finally the set. The last game I started with a double fault. The ball almost didn't get to the net. Then I became confident at 15-All.
Q. From the tennis players we have in the draw right now, who is the best?
Rafa: Well, the one that worries me is Stepanek. The rest I don't care about them right now. I'm worrying about tomorrow. When you win one match, then you can start worrying about the following match.
Q. What do you think about models? What's your opinion?
Rafa: This question is becoming a boom. Like Formula One, we have a thousand models suddenly before the cameras. I find nothing strange in this. It's a kind of promotion, publicity for the tournament. That's positive. Nothing against it. I have more things in favor actually.
Q. You said you're focusing on the next match which could be Stepanek. Have you been watching David's matches? Do you see him strong enough?
Rafa: Well, I'm not surprised at his performance. He's had an incredible year. He's been fighting to get into the Masters. If he wins one match more, he has chances to get into the Masters. Let's hope he does get in.
He's a great person as well as a great tennis player. We get along with each other very well. I'd like to have him with me.
Q. What do you think about the Spanish crowd that loves you actually and supported you more than Tommy?
Rafa: Well, I don't know if they supported me more than Tommy, but the crowd is behaving incredibly in this tournament. On a personal level, I'm feeling very comfortable. I haven't played in Spain since the Godo tournament. Madrid has always been kind to me, as I have said. The crowd has really supported me and is helping me.
Q. We think if we hadn't been talking about you, we would have been talking about Ferrer here in Spain, newspapers and headlines.
Rafa: Yeah, maybe this year I've been constantly in newspapers because of the season, because of the year I've had. But David has also had an incredible year, playing at a very high level. Miami, Monte Carlo, quarterfinals, semis at Rome, Roland Garros quarterfinals, too. He's proving to be at a very high level. He's also a very experienced player that could be in the top 10. Let's hope he wins Paris. I agree with you that we could hear about him a lot more than we do.
Q. Your movement seemed to be much more free and relaxed today. Were you happy with the way you were moving today? It was better than yesterday?
Rafa: Yeah, yeah, I think I improve my mobility. That's important in my game, no? In my game, is very important my physical, so I improve today. I think play against Tommy is better for me because I know a lot his game. We play together a lot of times. That's more easy for me playing him than Hanescu, because he serve very well, he play very fast. Tommy, he's playing well, but I have a better feeling against him.
Q. You can see what he's doing? You can anticipate what Tommy is doing, because you've seen him play before? You can see where he is going to hit the ball?
Rafa: Every match is different, of course. Every match is difficult. But today I played a very good match. I am happy for that, no?
Q. When you woke up this morning, how did the knee feel?
Rafa: When I wake up today morning, I feel a little bit pain, but just a little bit. Nothing important. That's because I play two matches. In two matches, I don't feel nothing, only good feelings.
Q. Did you know that David Beckham got stuck in the traffic and was unable to see your match because he came here late?
Rafa: But after the match I am speaking with him in the locker room. So that's nice for me, no?
Q. What did you say?
Rafa: I ask personal things. Nothing special.
Q. Were you sorry that he missed your match?
Rafa: No, of course. It's okay for me. I am very happy for speak with him after the match. Yesterday I speak with him, too, after the Real Madrid match in the locker room of Real Madrid. It's very nice. I am happy for knowing him.
By John Roberts in Madrid
Published: 21 October 2005
Not only was Rafael Nadal too swift for Tommy Robredo, his Spanish compatriot, at the Madrid Masters last night, he was too quick for David Beckham as well.
The England football captain was stuck in traffic and missed the 19-year-old Nadal's masterclass en route to the quarter-finals.
This was a pity, because after Nadal had completed his opening match against Victor Hanesco on Wednesday night he dashed to the Bernabeu to see Beckham play with brio in Real Madrid's 4-1 Champions' League victory against Rosenborg.
Although his uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, played for Barcelona, Rafa is a Real nut and has the run of the galacticos' training ground. He paid a visit on Tuesday and performed a nifty piece of keepy-uppy in spite of concerns about tendinitis in his left knee.
Nadal again wore tape below both knees as a precaution last night, though there were moments when Robredo may have wished his opponent's legs had been tied together.
Nadal won, 6-2, 6-4, after 78 minutes, losing his serve once, at 3-2 in the second set. None the less, most of the points were keenly contested in lengthy, deep-driving rallies. Before Robredo ventured to serve-and-volley for a spell midway through the second set, they played as if duelling on slow clay, as they did in their previous match in Bastaad, Sweden earlier this year. Nadal won that encounter 6-3, 6-3.
Having held interest in the tournament together after the withdrawals through injury of Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin and Andre Agassi, Nadal, the top seed, now plays Radek Stepanek, of the Czech Republic, for a place in the semi-finals.
Stepanek, who eliminated Tim Henman in three sets in the second round * the Czech's second win against the British No 1 within a week * defeated Jose Acasuso, of Argentina, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, to advance to the quarter-finals.
Q. What a match against Stepanek. Proud?
Of course, I'm proud. It was a very, very tough match. I knew before I started that Stepanek is a very uncomfortable opponent that gives you no rhythm. I knew I had to resist and be consistent. It was an incredible match, a very high level, as we like to play, with fast rhythm.
I knew it was going to be difficult, but I fought as much as I could until 6-2, when it got complicated. But I'm very happy because now I reached the semifinals of another Masters Series at home.
Q. Ginepri, do you have references of him?
Well, the references are clear. Champion at New Haven, semifinals in Cincinnati and US Open. Very, very tough match. I'll need to play well.
Q. You started the tournament as a doubt, and now you're the only Spaniard. How do you feel? What are your hopes?
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's match. I'm very happy. The two first years I played here, I didn't do very well. I'm excited at the idea of playing a good tournament. This is a great indoor tournament. I wish I could reach the final. That would be great.
Q. During the tiebreak, what percentage of the victory belongs to the crowd? As a spectator I felt the crowd was great.
Yeah, I've been saying this all week. Once I decided to play, I knew I owed the crowd a lot. Every time I got on the court, I felt warmly welcomed. Thanks to their empathy in these very tough matches, where slight details are important.
Q. Differences between yesterday?
Today the crowd was incredible.
Q. The first question is about your knees. The second question, those black elastic bands, what are they? Are they miraculous?
Yes, of course, they come from Lourdes and are touched by Lourdes water. Seriously, it's to prevent the impact. It's not miraculous, but it soothes the pain.
Q. At 6 2, you suddenly lost four set points. You had two points against you. What did you think?
Well, I felt suddenly I was losing the match, when I was one point from winning the match. On his serve, 7-6, I was able to return. He won the following point. Then made a forehand on the line. I was brave. That was the victory of the tiebreak. However, I was a bit unfocused at 6-2.
Q. Stepanek was tough. Four matches, four victories. It seems like you know him.
Well, every match is different. All of them have been very tough. I've been feeling uncomfortable. This player makes a strange movement in his serve at the end which I cannot control. The truth is, this year I played twice on clay against him. 7-5, 6-3. I told you the other day about that match. Rome, I lost the first set 7-5, then I won 6-1, 6-2, or something like this.
Taking into account his performance on clay and how tough matches are what were the results 7-6 7-6 6-3, all those matches have been really difficult.
Q. Could you explain to us what difficulties you found?
It was a difficult match. Very tense moments. First set we were playing to the limit. I was able to recover in the tiebreak. 5-0, then suddenly it was 6-3, very difficult. Finally I was able to recover.
Q. How important was it not to go to three sets?
The first set I have two set points down, but I can win these points. So I am very happy because if I lost the first set, the match will be a little bit more tough, no?
Q. Can you talk us through the tiebreaker. You were 5-2 up, then two set points down. Can you describe that?
Yes. I was playing unbelievable the tiebreak, 5-0 in the tiebreak. 6-2, serve. 6-3, 6-5, and one point more with the serve. I can't win any point. I relaxed a little bit. In the 6-2, he played a good point. After that, he has two set points. That's difficult. But the public is very exciting in this moments, and very important for me, no?
Q. He's an unusual player. He sometimes plays up, sometimes back. He mixes it up. Does this make it difficult?
Yes, he's very difficult because he play very aggressive, goes to the net.
Q. For the tape?
He plays in the baseline. He plays very tough, too. It's very difficult. I never have good feelings around him.
Q. Do you think your standard has gone up in the three matches here?
Yesterday I play very well I think, too. Today I play good because is difficult opponent. But I am happy with my level every match, no?