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INTERVIEWS

March 15, 2007

R. NADAL/J.I. Chela

7-5, 7-5

An interview with:

RAFAEL NADAL

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A little bit of a struggle out there today, Rafa? A bit of a struggle for you today?
RAFAEL NADAL: What is this?

Q. Very tough match.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. Yeah, it was tough match. Maybe I start the tournament normal against Clement, play very good two matches. And today I start well, I start fine, and after I lost little bit (speaking Spanish).
THE MODERATOR: Selection of the shots.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know in English what -- if you want, I can say another word, but it's not the same. No. Well, I start well the first four games, and after, I miss more than usual, a little bit more, no?
And Chela is difficult player because he change a lot of the rhythm of the game. He sometimes play slow, have to play faster, sometimes play with top speed, and then play, (speaking Spanish), flat. So that's difficult, no?

Q. But on the big points, Rafa, you played well enough, especially end of the second set. You forced him into errors and --
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, well, the important thing is I wasn't playing my best match today, but I -- well, I can't say it's bad match for me, you know. It was normal match for me, not the best. But the final thing is I won two sets, 7-5, 7-5. That's very important if I won in two sets against one of the best players in the world right now.
Because he was playing with confidence winning in Acapulco and winning good matches here. So if I win in two sets that's important because I am in a good way, no?

Q. Overall, this match aside, do you feel like your level has been improving the last few weeks?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I start I say before the tournament, I started playing very well in Dubai. I lost, yeah. I lost against Youzhny, was playing fine, I have my chances again. But after Dubai, I continue the same, no? I am playing well. I'm having the best moment of the season, for sure, right now. Well, it's just the fourth tournament, no?
But I feel great. I feel so much better than the last months right now, and I am in semifinals. That's a very good result in one hard tournament, Master Series. When this tournament, the best player in the world, no one pull out of this tournament. So that's very good being the top four players of this tournament, no?

Q. How much golf have you actually played here?
RAFAEL NADAL: What?

Q. How much golf have you actually played here?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yesterday, I played disappointing, very bad result, hard time. 21-over par.

Q. But you played a few times?
RAFAEL NADAL: What?
Well, I play three times, four times.

Q. Are you disappointed that Federer is out of the draw so early?
RAFAEL NADAL: Disappointed, no. No, I'm not happy, but not disappointed. It's the same for me. For me, don't change nothing, no. Well, Federer, I always say the same. Federer is another part of the draw, so, for me, it doesn't matter, no? I just think about my draw.

Q. In terms of this year, what's most important for you, defending the French, winning Davis Cup, having a winning record against Roger? What's most important?
RAFAEL NADAL: Right now, the most important thing is semifinals. So of a tomorrow, I'm trying to play my best tennis, come back and play my best tennis. And right now, I'm in a good way, because right now, I'm playing my best level, no, I think.
So that's the goal, just play good and find the best -- best feeling. If I find the best feeling, I gonna chance -- I gonna have chance for everything. I don't know if I gonna defend the French title or going to be the No. 2 in the world, but I gonna have a chances for have anything.

Q. Your next match we'll even know better how your level is because you'll play either Roddick or Ljubicic. That's a step up even over Chela?
RAFAEL NADAL: Any one. If play against Roddick or Ljubicic, gonna be very tough match he is serving -- they are serving unbelievable.
It's a good match, no, because, well, right now, I am in semifinals. I play with not the same pression, a little bit less pression.
For sure, I gonna try my best for another final, no? That's my goal, and I gonna try my best. Right now, anyway, I gonna have a good tournament.

Q. It will be a good test for both you and Roddick because you haven't played each other in more than two years, huh? It will almost be a new match.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, good test, a good test is we are in semifinals. That's a good test, no? After, you can win. You can lose, but always is difficult matches, no? And we will see. But a good test is I am in semifinals. Roddick or Ljubicic, I will see in semifinals. That's a good result, maybe, for anyone. Not for Federer, but for the rest.

Q. Sorry for another golf question, but do you get excited when you make a good shot out there or are you tranquillo?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I wasn't have this feeling till last times, but yesterday, I was playing very bad the first nine. After I come back and I was losing against Ferrero for (speaking Spanish) for shots, I come back and in the last last hole, he has one putt like (indiscernible), so that's disappointing, because finally I draw the (speaking Spanish) tie the match. But, well, for sure, if I have a good shot, it's a good feeling, but, not, I don't want to have like this.

Q. No vamos?
RAFAEL NADAL: No vamos.

Q. What was your other results on the golf course this week? You said 21-over yesterday. What about the other times you played?
RAFAEL NADAL: 21, 13, and two I don't know because I playing with four teams.

Q. And what courses did you play?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, in the hotel, Hyatt.

Q. If I could, kind of a difficult question, but the other day, Guga Kuerten said there's a lot of comfort at the top of the men's game, that Roger is comfortable at No. 1, and the others who are at 2 and 3 are also comfortable. Is that a correct statement or do you have a really intense desire to overcome Roger as soon as you can?
RAFAEL NADAL: (Speaking Spanish.)
THE MODERATOR: So you want to ask him if --
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, right now, I feel good on No. 2, because -- because I don't see a lot of chances for being the No. 1, no? So right now, I focus and try to continue being the No. 2. But for sure my goal is to be the No. 1 any day.
Thank you.

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