Que ele é um fenômeno, não é novidade. Que ele já havia vencido Madri outras duas vezes, todo mundo sabia. Que ele é o Rei do Saibro está longe de ser breaking news. Mas, imaginar que Rafael Nadal disputaria 7 finais dos 7 torneios que disputou, depois de 7 meses de ausência do circuito, e ganharia 5, isso sim é tema para análise.
Nadal tentou explicar, mas não conseguiu muito. Amigos me perguntaram nos últimos dias o que eu achava disso tudo e a explicação mais lógica para entender o que Nadal vem fazendo é a vontade de vencer, depois de tantos meses afastado contra a vontade, se recuperando de uma lesão rara, aliada a um calendário bem feitíssimo.
O espanhol voltou a jogar em torneios pequenos, onde foi pegando ritmo de jogo e confiança aos poucos. Talvez se tivesse voltado em um grande torneio, os resultados teriam sido outros.
Mas, ele teve tempo para se readaptar ao circuito.
Enquanto Nadal descansou a mente e o corpo do circuito, durante sete meses, Djokovic, Murray e Federer continuaram jogando. Neste fim de semana, quando Nadal jogava pelo 40º título no saibro, os outros três tenistas já estavam em Roma, eliminados precocemente de Madri.
Mesmo não sendo muito explicativa, a coletiva de Nadal, após a vitória sobre Stanislas Wawrinka, que reproduzo aqui, mostra um pouco a vontade do heptacampeão de Roland Garros de vencer, de aproveitar o momento e de como está sendo cauteloso ao projetar o futuro. Ä minha lesão não foi há dois anos, foi há poucos meses. Tenho que manter os pés bem no chão.”
An interview with:
Q. Was it easier than you were expecting or really today you were playing really well in the altitude of Madrid? It’s been incredible.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, in the end, as I said the other day, I don’t expect anything. If I expect is the most difficult thing when I go out there and play a match.
In this case what I expected was to go out there and try and do it and do what I like to do, what I want to do before I go out there in the match.
I’m very happy. I think I did a really good match. I think I played the best match of the whole week today in the final.
As I said, I managed to do what I was thinking to do before starting the match. It’s always difficult. I had the idea to go out there and to do a good drive, you know, to smack it hard, and try to get many points with my drive.
I think I managed to do that. From the first point I think I managed that. I missed a couple break points, but I was also dominating. I made it to the line, and, well, afterwards with my backhand I was trying to, you know, not to play very parallel.
I was trying to play balls up there in the middle, long balls, because I knew that those balls were the right ones. If I played that way then he didn’t have the right angle. He has some pretty good angles with his drive and his backhand.
If I did that I do only good drives, so I think that tactically talking I played a really good match. Afterwards, tennistically talking, I think it has been a complete match, an all-round match.
I didn’t suffer with my serve, and in the second set I played really good. About the rest, everything went pretty well.
Q. Congratulations on your third victory here and for your great career. I think that today you won your 40th tournament on clay. You’ve got 23rd Masters 1000. I wanted to ask you, of all the finals you played and you won them, do you remember this has been the most simple final to beat of all the Masters 1000 that you have?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. The finals of a Masters 1000 are always a complicated matches. Talking about the rest that were not that complicated, perhaps in Rome against Gonzales it was 6-1, 6-2, I’m trying to remember.
Also I’m trying to remember in Toronto against Kiefer where I was more or less feeling comfortable. I don’t remember any others that were comfortable.
Also against Federer in Monte-Carlo, 6-4, 6-4. But, well, I think nearly all the matches are complicated, and a final is always more complicated.
If can tell you today that the beginning of the match was really positive, that today I was playing well, I think that I played with a lot intensity. I was very electric with my movements and the way I was hitting the ball.
At the beginning I was able to make a double break. Well, you know that you have the set in your pocket if you just take advantage of the double break.
Even here in Madrid with your serve you know you can harm many opponents. You know it’s going to be complicated with all that. You have the set in your pocket, and then you face that really good.
You know that the other one is going to have a really bad time. You know that you have the option to win it.
That’s the way it went today. I managed to get my opportunity and he committed a double fault in the 3-All. After that, I was able to defend pretty well the match.
It’s was not one of these days when I serve with advantage as I was serving before, because it was something that I had to change. I did it with David when I was serving 5-4 in the second set. I also lost the serve with Djokovic in Monte-Carlo. It was 4-2 in the second set and I lost the serve.
6-5 I was serving for the set and I lost my serve. Well, I had clear what I wanted to do and how I wanted to lose the set if I was going to lose it, so that’s the positive thing. I played pretty aggressive and everything went pretty well. Happy about how the week has gone. It’s been very good for me.
Being able to play here in Madrid and being able to win in front of all my people and also being able to win for two straight weeks here in Spain is something really special, especially due to the last month that I have passed which has been really complicated.
A lot of these victories, they just help you even more if you can do it in front of your people because you feel loved and they all support you. In front of this amazing audience, these are the victories you’ll remember forever.
Q. Talking about your game, is this the match you are the most satisfied with?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, of the last ones I played, yeah, I’m pretty satisfied. Since we started playing in clay in Europe, for sure. I’ve realized that my drive is working again at its high level. I’m able to open the angles and play a lot of winning points. Well, I just did it.
I couldn’t do that in Barcelona or Monte-Carlo; over here I could. I was playing with a lot of decision. It’s true that in some moments I was lacking a little bit of backhand or legs.
Well, if I’m able to substitute that with my aggressiveness, well, everything changes. It’s true that he has played at a very high level, too. I don’t know if this is, of the seven matches, the one I played best.
Acapulco was really good too; Indian Wells I played really high level. It’s true these last matches I have been able to reach that goal, you know, that line, that place where I want to be playing, the kind of play that I’m aiming for.
Q. After how well you played on clay this year in Monte-Carlo and South America and Madrid, and after what we have seen here in Madrid, what Djokovic has done, Federer, do you see yourself as more of a favorite towards the French Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, I said the same the other day and I’m going to repeat it: For me it’s a moment not to talk about Roland Garros. It’s a moment just to be happy with what I have achieved right now in Madrid, in Barcelona, and Monte-Carlo.
In this moment nowadays I am just happy to have what I did today and win an important tournament such as Madrid. To think this is a warmup to Roland Garros, that’s wrong. It’s not a warmup. I give my maximum level.
For me this tournament means a lot, the same as Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. I just give it the maximum importance. At home, even more important.
I don’t think a tournament this important deserves the word of being a warmup for another tournament. You know, I’m here and next week I will be in Rome and I will be thinking about Rome. I won’t be thinking Roland Garros.
When it comes we will think about Roland Garros, which is a pretty important tournament, of course, but it’s not the only one in the world. You know, that’s clear. I’ll try to be about as good as possible.
I evaluate a lot what’s happening to me. I appreciate what’s happening before Roland Garros. If you told me four months ago all this would have happened and I wasn’t going to do well in Roland Garros I would tell you, yes, I will sign that.
We’re playing with calm and we will see what happens.
Q. This tournament is the number 40 in clay. You’re six away from Guillermo Vilas who one 46 tournaments.
RAFAEL NADAL: I’m not thinking about that I am competing with Vilas, really, no, no. He’s Argentinian, you know, like you, right?
Q. What did you think about being in this moment, and what can you tell us about Vilas, being able to reach a player like him next year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you know nowadays for me this is just numbers. This is just historic numbers. The only thing I’m going to say is what I always say: The history of each player, you analyze it when they have finished their career, not before.
In this case, well, I’m happy for everything that has happened for me until now. Hopefully I still will have the chances to be able to live the moments like the ones I’ve lived this week, the one I just experienced a moment ago.
I’m very happy for everything that has happened. 40 titles in clay, they are far more than what I’ve ever dreamed of. Well, I will just enjoy them and continue working on the same level to try to be better and to try to be at a really good level for what will come in the future.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.
Q. You came back in February, and now you’ve been in seven finals in seven tournaments. How excited are you now about the prospects of the rest of the year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know yet. I want to enjoy every moment, because it’s very special what’s happening after seven months outside of this world of tennis.
So every victory means a lot to me, more than ever. The perspective will be great if I don’t feel nothing on my knee. But I don’t know how the thing’s going to improve, so that’s why I want to be very calm, stay with the feet completely on the floor, and go day by day.
Things are going well, but the injury is not two years ago. It’s just few months ago. So I need to be with calm, enjoy every moment, and for sure keep working hard to be fit for the rest of the season.
But I just enjoy everything what’s happening today. The confidence winning here is big, especially the way that I won playing good tennis.
But every week is a different history. Tomorrow I will be in Rome practicing a little bit, and I need to adapt another time to the conditions playing in a, you know, a little bit slower conditions than here.
Hopefully should not be a problem. But I need to do it, and I need to do it with the right concentration tomorrow. After tomorrow, try to be ready for the match on Wednesday.
Q. In Monte-Carlo you said that you were not playing your best level and you needed to improve some things. Do you think that now you are at your best level? And if not, what do you need to improve?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sounds very arrogant if I say I’m not playing at my best level and I just won a tournament that the best players of the world are playing here.
So that’s not fair, no? But I always think that I can keep improving. That’s why I go every day on court and I practice every day, because I think that always there is things to keep improving.
If you ask me if I feel better today than Monte-Carlo playing I will say probably yes. My forehand is going faster; I am able to play more inside the court; I am serving well, more or less.
I need a little bit more with my backhand; I need a little bit more with my movements; I need to keep finding a little bit more calm, more confidence on my movements.
Today I was more confident than previous days, but I need more days like today. That’s all. I am working hard to try to arrive to this feeling. I am not talking about winning, losing, or playing good, bad.
When you are winning, it’s because you are doing the right things. You cannot win playing bad tennis and you cannot win these kind of tournaments playing bad.
So I think I’m playing very well, but I need to be a little bit more confident on my movements.
Q. Stan has been playing very, very well the last two weeks. You knew that, but you also knew he never won a set against you; didn’t today. How did you find him today, and how did you explain that you’ve never lost a set to him?
RAFAEL NADAL: I saw this statistic today in the morning. I didn’t know this. Was a surprise for me, because Stan is a big player, you know, with a big potential. Good serve. He has all the shots, so when I saw the statistics that in eight times I didn’t lose a set was a surprise for me.
I really didn’t think about that before the match. I just think about he’s playing very well. He won in Portugal playing against David in the finals 6-1, 6-4. To win against David with this score you need to play fantastic.
Then here he played fantastic matches winning very tough opponents, and he’s in the final of Masters 1000. So just before the match, the only thing that I thought is he’s playing fantastic and I need to do the things very well if I want to have any chance.
That’s what I tried. I think I increase a little bit the rhythm and the intensity of the game today; it worked well, because my feeling on court was he didn’t have a lot of chances to go inside the court and to play comfortable shots.
I think I played with a lot of topspin; my ball with the forehand goes long and fast.
So I feel confident in the way that I played today.
Q. Congratulations. It felt like a very, very different you today than against Benoit Paire. You seemed to be much more aggressive going into this match. Is it because it’s a final and you’re just ready to go from the start?
RAFAEL NADAL: We cannot compare the match against Paire. Paire is very difficult player to play against, as I said the first day. You can try to play aggressive, but if he don’t want to play, he wants to play just one shot winner or dropshot or short points, you don’t have the chance to choose what’s going to happen or what you going to do.
It depends on him. I am not more motivated today than in the first round. To be in the final you have to be playing well from the first round. So the motivation is the same, but when you are playing a final you are more confident than when you were playing a first round.
You already have four matches on your shoulders and the confidence of winning these four matches, so that maybe changes. That’s why I am able to go for the match from the beginning and to try to play more aggressive from the beginning. Because my feeling is more confident.
Fotos: Mutua Madri Open