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INTERVIEWS

March 17, 2007


R. NADAL/A. Roddick

6-4, 6-3

An interview with:

RAFAEL NADAL

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It must be encouraging for you, considering people have been talking about your hard court game and wondering where your game was at. Could you just comment on how well you played today.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I play -- I think I play very, very complete match, for sure. I think it's the best match in season, no? I was saying before the tournament, the first day here before I start the tournament, I said, my opinion I was in my best moment of the season, for sure, and the best moment from last six months. Right now, for sure, I am in the finals, so beating Andy Roddick today is a very, very good win for me.
He's one of the best players in the world, No. 3 right now, and especially in this place, so that's very good win for me. That's for sure.

Q. You spent the last, I don't know, 15 minutes of your practice playing that serve down the middle, and it worked really well in the match today.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah.

Q. That was a very good service performance.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I was serving very well. Yeah, maybe I wasn't served too faster, but I change all the time, no? I change all the time the direction of the serve, the speed, too. Sometimes a little bit faster, sometimes a little bit slowly, sometimes with kick, with top spin, and other times light. So I change all the time, the rhythm of the serve.
So that's very important, and I feel very comfortable with my serve, because I, I don't know, about 80 percent or 80, yeah, first serves, so that's good. What I tell you, it was very, very complete match for me because I was with the forehand with the best line unbelievable. I change all the time to the -- (in Spanish)

Q. Down the line.
RAFAEL NADAL: -- down the line. It was important for me to play all time against the backhand of Roddick, because if I play a time with my forehand against his backhand, well, I think I have best forehand than his backhand. But the game come slowly, and that's better for him.
So my coach say, maybe for the other match, I play two to the backhand, but change a lot of times to the forehand, and I play very good in this, no.

Q. He's been playing much better over the past year, rushing the net, but you also passed him extremely well today.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, when I feel good, I have one -- one of my best shots, the passing shot, no? Always when I was playing fine, I always have a very good passing shots. With the forehand especially, if I arrive good with the legs, I have good chances for have good passing shot. And, well, I continuing, like well -- (Spanish)
THE MODERATOR: "When he was at the net, I was just playing well my shots."
RAFAEL NADAL: Fine. Mas o menos.

Q. Were you surprised at how quickly the match went?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I know the match go quick, because when he serve, all points are quick. But always the match is quick against him. But well, I wasn't expecting one 6-4, 6-3, that's for sure, no?

Q. Who would you actually prefer or like to have in the final, Djokovic or Murray, or there's no difference when you play well like this?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, right now, if I play like this, I have chances against anyone. But I know I can lose, too, because they are playing very well. They are coming very good this year. They have good wins. Andy Murray won in San Jose maybe, where, San Jose. And Djokovic play three sets in quarter finals against Federer in Dubai, played semifinals in Rotterdam, won on (indiscernible), too. Right now, he in semifinals. So anyone is playing with big confidence, playing very well.
And I not -- I know it gonna be very tough match. I just try continue playing at the level. If I continue playing like this, I have chance, no?

Q. When you played Andy in Australia, how were you playing in Australia compared to now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it was very important match for me there. It was good win. But the truth is, right now I feel so much better than Australia. But I'm not saying right now I feel better, I gonna win, well, I feel better. I can lose anyway. But, for sure, I'm playing so much better than Australia right now, no?

Q. You've been complaining all week about how bad your golf has been going, 21-over the other day. Do you think maybe the worse you play on the course, the better you play on the tennis court?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yesterday improve a little bit score, 15-over. So, yes, I lose, I lose, too, but I improve a little bit.

Q. Did you get the idea to go down the middle today serving from playing the course yesterday?
RAFAEL NADAL: What?

Q. When you went down the middle yesterday on the course, on the golf course --
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, if yesterday I play with my serve in the middle in the course, maybe the result change a little bit.

Q. I have a serious question about golf. Do you think it seriously will help you a little bit to take your mind off the tennis court and go and play golf?
RAFAEL NADAL: Speaking true, I don't know. I don't know, not well. It's important do some things when you are in the tournament. Here the Play Station is not working because -- the Play Station not working here. Because the energy, I don't know, it change. I don't know. I can watch some films. Very nice place. But what can I do here?
Well, it's important to have to do different things for be when you are outside of the courts. Because always you have lot of time outside of home, and if you are just thinking about tennis all the time, it's difficult, because you put more pressure on you.
For example, when I am sleeping, when I am trying to sleep in the night, I prefer to sleep with watching one film or something, because if you close the lights, just without the sleep, I can stay one hour, one hour and a half thinking about the match of tomorrow or thinking, I don't know.
But I prefer the mind be occupied in other thing.

Q. Because you're playing so well, would you wish that Roger would be in the finals because you played so well today?
RAFAEL NADAL: What? Well, no, no, no. Seriously, no. I prefer this one -- anyone, I prefer Djokovic, but anyone gonna be very, very tough match. But for sure, I don't know in the future, but right now I am not playing against the best of history.

Q. Do you think you feel less pressure, maybe you're playing better because you don't have that pressure there, there's not Roger in the distance?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No. Doesn't matter that.

Q. What do you think will be the key, the important part of the match tomorrow, first if you play Djokovic and also if you play Murray?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know any key. That's true, no? I don't know. The key is try to play my best tennis, because I gonna play against very difficult opponent, very good player. So if I not playing my 100 percent, I have big chances for lose the match. So that's it. Just try to play my best.

Q. When was the last time you played as well as you did today, do you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't remember exactly, no? But for sure, this week, gonna be very, very important week for me. After, I don't know, some months without playing like this, come back and play this final in one hard Master Series is very important for me.

Q. You'll be spending quite a bit of time in America during this part of the year. What do you like best about America when you're here?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I don't, I -- well, I not doing so much different things when I am here and we are in other places of the world. So, well, that's -- (in Spanish)
THE MODERATOR: It's like everything is like bigger here. And, for instance, like the golf courses, they have some of the best golf courses, more spectacular golf courses in the world.

Q. And in terms of maybe what's not so good when you're here?
RAFAEL NADAL: I prefer the Mediterranean food.

Q. You've been talking all week about finding your form, feeling good, playing better. But why now? Why these last couple weeks, and what was preventing you from playing that well two months ago, three months ago, four months ago?
RAFAEL NADAL: I work -- I work a lot, no? I don't know, but, well, I been trying to find this performance every week. And when you are working hard and try to every week at your best, try your best, well, I wasn't win, but I am in quarter finals, semifinals, quarter finals every time.
So I wasn't playing my best, but in every tournament, I was there. So that's true and that's important, because without my best tennis, mentally was okay always. So maybe for that reason, right now I find my best tennis, no?

Q. Confidence-wise when you're striking the ball now, you have more confidence on certain shots, like you were talking about the forehand down the line.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I have the confidence right now because I practice very well last weeks. For that reason, I have confidence, no? And for sure when you are in semifinals, you have better confidence than when you are at first round. But for sure because I am practicing better.

Q. When you learn who your opponent is tonight for tomorrow, will you plan strategy tonight? Will you develop, what we call a game plan, perhaps?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, you can always watch somethings, but little bit. Finally you need play your game. I need play my game. I just try to play my best tennis, but with my game, not thinking about opponent.
You know, if, for example, Federer have unbelievable forehand, try to play a little bit more for against his backhand, no? But that's it. After that, you only play your game. Because if you are thinking about the opponent finally, you lost your game.

Q. Do you think there's a particular match here where things turned around for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: What?

Q. A particular match in this tournament where you felt the confidence coming back, where you felt it turned around?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I feel very well in every match, no? As well the first match against Clement, I have some double faults and the backhand was a little bit bad. But after that, I play very good match, Verdasco, unbelievable, and Ferrero.
Yesterday or before yesterday was okay, well, not the best match, but I play good in important moments. I have two breaks in the 5-all, and today, very, very good match.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
RAFAEL NADAL: Thank you very much.

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