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INTERVIEWS

March 9, 2007

An interview with:

RAFAEL NADAL

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How would you summarize your start to this year, not as many matches as last year, but?
RAFAEL NADAL: What can you say?

Q. How would you sum up the start of your year so far?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I was playing a good tournament in Australia. I wasn't play too much, just play three tournaments and then play one semi final, go to quarter finals. Well, it's better than last year for ten points, but, no, the real thing is while I think I improve better, but was not -- was not bad, no.

Q. Are you happy with where your game right now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. Really, right now, I am playing well. I was playing in Dubai my best tennis of the year, for sure. It happened. I improve. I work hard. And right now, I feel so much better than Australia. The result sometimes is difficult, and when you are on court, sometimes you can win, you can lose, no? But right now, I feel better on court.

Q. The results you're getting, if you're not winning, is it more mental or physical or technical?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. No, sometimes you need little bit more confidence. Sometimes you need to win an important match for to get the confidence. And right now, every tournament, in quarter finals, semi finals, quarter finals, quarter finals. So in every tournament that I am there, I just need little bit more and go to the next one and play one final. That's it.
No, I'm happy because I am playing my best everything, every tournament. But sometimes you have bit of lagging and sometimes you have no luck. But I play my best and I many in the final rounds.

Q. Where did the confidence go after Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: What?

Q. You had a great run, Roland Garros, get to the Wimbledon finals, and no more titles. Did your confidence go away? And when did the confidence start to leave?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I am with -- no, not the confidence go away. No, I make quarter finals in Cincinnati, quarter finals in U.S. Open. I never play the quarter finals in U.S. Open. I never play the quarter finals in Australia, and I played the semi finals in Shanghai. It was not bad at all, for sure, but the truth is, I was playing -- I wasn't playing so much tournaments. If you saw my career goal and my 14 tournaments -- 14 or -- yeah, 14 or 13 tournaments on clay and four on hard. So I just play on hard all the time and semi finals, quarter finals, quarter finals.
So sometimes you can win and sometimes you can lose, but the truth is I play every time very hard tournaments with the best players of the world, and I can win the tournament. But the last six months, I wasn't win. But I don't know the reason. I just try my best always, and every tournament that I try to improve the last one.

Q. Larry Stefanki said that Gonzalez has the best forehand in the game at the moment.
RAFAEL NADAL: Who?

Q. Gonzalez.
RAFAEL NADAL: Who say that?

Q. Larry, the coach, Gonzalez's coach. And I'm wondering what do you think about that? Maybe you think that you have the best forehand?
RAFAEL NADAL: Me? Not me.

Q. Or Federer?
RAFAEL NADAL: Huh?

Q. Or Federer?
RAFAEL NADAL: Me, no. But for me, I have better forehand than Gonzalez. My opinion. Different, but I prefer Federer. If you say me, you can choose one. I choose Federer. That's it.

Q. Do you think sometimes people forget that you're still very young and developing and that they expect you to win so many titles because of how great you were last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, sometimes the people forgot I have 20 years old. That's true. I have 17 titles in two years. That's true. But well, I need always little bit more time playing without this pressure in every tournament. You need to win. Well, I try my best always, but I know I -- I can lose every match. I can win every one. But that's it. I just want to play, enjoy the -- my career. I enjoy the tennis because I love play with -- play with little bit pressure, with the competition, and I don't want more pressure. That's not (in Spanish).
MEDIA: (Translated from Spanish)I don't want more pressure than I really have already.
RAFAEL NADAL: Because I enjoy playing tennis and I just have to again improve my tennis. I can't stop. And sometimes when you are improving, it's not easy to win. I just want to -- I'm trying to be best player every year, and sometimes, especially, my goal is be prepared if any day I have the chance to be No. 1.

Q. The last time Spain played the United States in Seville, it was extraordinary. You played brilliantly. What are your memories of that final?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it was one of my best -- my best moments in my career, for sure. I almost felt special, for sure, unbelievable. And playing in your country, for your country, and with 20,000 -- 27,000 people, so that's very impressive, very much an honor.

Q. And what are your thoughts on the upcoming match against the U.S.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we'll see. We are not favorites, but we will see.

Q. Have you been to North Carolina before?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, not yet.

Q. And finally, earlier today James Blake was very, very happy about the hole-in-one he got on the golf course?
RAFAEL NADAL: Hole-in-one? I never. I never have won.

Q. So what is the best you've done in another sport aside from tennis?
RAFAEL NADAL: My best what?

Q. Result.
RAFAEL NADAL: Not much (laughter). I have some (indiscernible) in golf, and I won the, I don't know, I want to say the champion of Spain -- no, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, you know?

Q. Yes.
RAFAEL NADAL: So if you know where three islands -- not very big.

Q. What did you win?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not very big, but very nice. We won -- I was playing football with my team in my small village, and we won.

Q. Roger said he was a striker. What was your position on the team?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am a (asking in Spanish) striker, also.
Striker also, lefty. Unbelievable lefty. Unbelievable --

Q. A hook.
RAFAEL NADAL: Very nice. Always.

Q. Like Beckham?
RAFAEL NADAL: Beckham. Beckham in a lefty.

Q. Are you surprised that the U.S. picked indoor hard courts instead of grass for the tie?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I prefer grass than indoor.

Q. (Indiscernible).
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I love playing on grass. You forgot, but I play the final in Wimbledon.

Q. We didn't forget, but it just seemed --
RAFAEL NADAL: No, really. Really. I speaking really not well. Surely it's difficult anyway, in grass or on hard, because he has unbelievable double players, No. 3 in the world, Roddick, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, and he play very well in grass, in indoor and every -- every way.
So maybe it going to be very difficult confrontation. If we play on clay, gonna be very difficult, but maybe we are favorites. Outside of clay, any other surface, we have chances, but they are favorite.

Q. Is it possible that this year Roger Federer would win Roland Garros but Rafael would win Wimbledon? Is that a possibility?
RAFAEL NADAL: If you have any paper and I can sign, I gonna sign.

Q. You have seen most of the world now traveling around on the tour. I know that you love your Mallorca, but is there any other place that you might consider living some day?
RAFAEL NADAL: I love a lot of places. I like a lot of places, but you was never in Mallorca? So I prefer Mallorca, for sure, more than any other place. Because I am with lot of calm there, all is very easy, I can go to play golf easier, ten minutes by car. I can go to anyway. I can go to the beach. I love to go with the boat and fishing. I can do every, always that, and, yes, I love Mallorca.

Q. You said a lot that you need to improve everything in your game, but take maybe one or two parts that you really feel like you need to --
RAFAEL NADAL: Always the same ones. The serve. For sure, the serve. Every year I improve more and more. I am trying to play a little bit more aggressive. I am playing a little bit more aggressive this year, and, well, I can improve for sure, the volley, everything, but especially the mentality for play with my forehand. And I am doing that, so I am happy. I am happy I play very -- I play my best tournament in Dubai this year, so I am very happy for that because I enjoy playing tennis in Dubai.

Q. Do you think you may play Youzhny again here?
RAFAEL NADAL: We will see. I haven't forgot.

Q. What about him gives you so many problems?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I have some victories against Youzhny and some losers. Well, he was playing very well there in Dubai. He was coming with big confidence winning. The title in Rotterdam, that's it, I have my chances, but I can't. Finally, I fight a lot in the last games, but he served very well and that's it. If we gonna play here, gonna be very good too, maybe, because I am in third round, third round, so I will love change -- come to the third round and play against him all the time

Q. Most everyone in tennis was surprised that you had that great run at Wimbledon and reached the final. Two things: Were you surprised, and what is it that you love so much about playing on grass?
RAFAEL NADAL: I surprised, for sure. But that's true. But I was dreaming about playing good on grass. It's a special sensation, special feelings, and if you, Spanish -- achieve? If you can achieve and understand the court and run good, because it's difficult to run on grass, it's very, very nice play on grass court. You can enjoy a lot, so I was having a great feelings last year and I enjoy a lot playing, practicing anyway is very nice.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.

Q. Since you play Youzhny, did you learn some Russian expressions?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. Right now, I need to try and improve my English. That's it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
RAFAEL NADAL: Thank you very much.

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