R. NADAL/S. Wawrinka 62, 61
An interview with: RAFAEL NADAL
Q. How do you feel about today’s win?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, happy obviously. Be in semifinals is a great result for me. I didn’t play the semifinals on hard court this year. So now I am playing two weeks in a row in that final rounds. That’s a big improvement for me. In terms of confidence, in terms of level of tennis, I am playing better. Very happy for that because I am working so hard.
Q. I think that’s the first top five player you’ve beaten since the French Open last year. Did it feel like an important win in that respect?
RAFAEL NADAL: All the victories are important. Obviously when you play against the best players, you want to play well and be competitive. But to make that happen, I have to play well.
The real thing, I believe I didn’t play a lot of times against top fives this year. It’s not a thing that I lost like 12 or 15 times in a row against a top five player. I didn’t arrive a lot of times to that kind of matches.
But I am happy. I am working so hard every day, with the right energy, I believe. For sure I think was a great first set, very good level in the first set.
Q. Can you talk about the next match against Tsonga.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, he already won a couple of tough matches here, and against good players. He will come to that semifinal with a big confidence. It is a court that he likes to play. The court is quick. He feels comfortable on these surfaces because he has a huge serve, very, very good forehand. He likes to hit the serve and then hit the forehand and go to the net.
He’s a very competitive player. When he’s in semifinals is because he’s playing well. So will be a very tough match. I hope to play well, keep doing like every day, playing a little bit better every day. I hope tomorrow to continue with that improvement.
Q. Throughout the year you are always talking that you are feeling much better. Do you think Shanghai might be a chance for a breakthrough?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t believe in drastic changes, no. Is not one week going to change everything. I believe normally that not going to happen, especially for me, because I believe in another thing. What I believe is play weeks in a row, play at solid level, and that’s what I feel I am doing better and better.
The important feeling is that you are practicing well. I think that I am doing. Then if I am doing the things well outside of the court, then can be quick, can be slow, but the normal thing is find the right results on court again, no?
I am enjoying. I think I don’t have the mental problems that I had during the whole year in terms of control of my emotions on court. That’s allow me to enjoy in the practices, on the competition. So happy for that. I have the motivation to keep going.
Q. Can you tell us how much of today’s win was about you playing well and Stan not being at his best?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think the first set was a good level of tennis. I played a great first set. Then in the second was in a strange way.
Q. Someone told me before your matches at the moment you’re practicing for much longer than you used to. It’s not necessarily a warmup, it’s more a full on practice session. Is that correct?
RAFAEL NADAL: More or less, yes. I am not the kind of player that on the warmups, I practice like 25 minutes or 20 minutes, come back to the locker room. I never did that. Normally I am a player that practice 40, 45 minutes.
But is true that the last months, I am taking every warmup like another practice, no? I said every week for me is like a preparation for next year. I try to spend as much time on court possible and work on the things that I need to work.
I believe that today I practiced like 1 hour 20, more or less, before the match. Is like another practice. I happy doing that. And for sure if my physical condition give me the chance to do that, things are a little bit more easy.
Q. You talked many times about how you control your emotions better on court now. What changed? Did you seek help from a mental coach, sports psychologist, or did you change your own attitude?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, first thing is I think that’s a personal thing. So normally I don’t like to talk about personal things. I talk about my public things, and that’s a personal thing.
But in terms of the work, try to control your emotions, I think is the work of every day. Try to have your personal work, try to analyze why that’s happening and try to find solution for that.
I was thinking a lot about what’s going on during the whole year. I believe that I understood what’s happening quick, but I didn’t find the solution that quick.
Q. Are you at the point now that you feel confident that next year you’ll be contending for Grand Slam titles again, or is it too soon to tell?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know. And today I don’t care much. I care about continue with that work, with doing my way, and on try to play well. I believe that I know if I am playing well, I was competing for all of these things during all of my career. So if I am able to play well, I don’t have to worry about this. I believe I going to compete again for that.
Q. In Beijing and in Shanghai you practice with Chinese player Zhang several times. Can you give some comments on him?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s great. He’s a possible future star. He hit the ball so quick. He’s young, he’s tall, good serve. If he’s able to find the right people around and right coach, if he really has the passion and the motivation to keep going, can be very good player.
Q. In the past year you’ve practiced with some young American players, Taylor Fritz, Noah Rubin, Stefan Kozlov. Any thoughts on any of them breaking through?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is always the same, no? When you are a young player, the most important thing is improve. The players that you mention are players that had success in the juniors, players that had success since they are 12 years old. So they are winners. They are good competitors. The spirit of competition when you are winning at young age is because you have that, you have that spirit of competition.
At the end of the day the important thing is have the right motivation and the right attitude and the right people around you to let you keep improving on your level of tennis. If you are able to keep improving during every year, then the chance to become a professional or a very, very good player is high.