Rafael Nadal arrived in Barcelona to take part in the tournament he has won eight of the last nine years.
As he met with the press on Monday, the Spaniard talked at great length about a variety of topics, from Wawrinka to Djokovic’s injury, as well as his career and his season. Some of his thoughts are, it is to say, quite polemical.
About Stanislas Wawrinka
Wawrinka is a player who’s always had a very high potential. The strange thing is that he is doing so well at the end of his career, at such an advanced age. But well… everyone evolves differently. But what is certain is that he is the player who has shown the best form in the first months of the year on the Tour. He is the one with the most points, there’s no discussion about that. I congratulate him. He really is a player that, as of today, doesn’t have holes in his game, who does everything very well and with a lot of power.
About Novak Djokovic’s injury
I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him, but it seems hasty to talk about [him missing] Roland Garros and Wimbledon. I don’t even know if he will be in Madrid. I have no idea.
It’s not as though he has retired from the match, or if he seemed to have broken something, so it doesn’t occur to me to think that he’ll stop playing for two months.
About his 2014, injuries, etc.
At this moment, the level of my game is what it is. I started the year more or less well. It’s true that I’ve been missing some competitiveness and confidence in the key moments of certain matches. I haven’t competed the way I would have liked.
In the last eight years, with all I have achieved, which is much more than what I would have hoped or dreamed, I am the player, among my direct rivals, who has missed the most opportunities due to injuries.
From the moment I missed the 2006 Australian Open because of the foot injury, until now, when I could not compete in the Australian Open final, I have missed a Wimbledon, several Australian Opens, a U.S. Open… with which I’ve lost opportunities to get chances to add up. And those chances, when they pass, they don’t come back. That’s a reality.
Nevertheless, we are where we are and we have achieved what we have achieved. This is cause to rejoice and be satisfied… I am not one who will cry with what’s happened to me. I feel that I am a very lucky person for what I have achieved. It’s simple: when you have a positive streak, have worked towards a goal, and that the moment you get comfortable and feel good, what happened to me in Australia happens, it’s logical that you’ll feel a bit insecure, a slight mental drop. Those are many years holding up and playing to the limit.
Of all the players with which I have met on the Tour, perhaps all, save one, would trade places with me.
The back injury hasn’t enabled me to work the way I would’ve liked. When I came back from the injury, it cost me to regain the competitive rhythm that sustained me in 2013.
About the “Fantastic Four” and the arrival of new faces
I think it’s been the same people for many years. For many years, the top four has competed for the most important titles. It’s something new in this sport. Tennis is a demanding sport, where you compete, week in and week out, with five or seven or six players, depending on the tournament, and the logical thing would be that it would change after a time.
I don’t think that the tendency is changing that much. It’s true that Wawrinka started the year very well, but the first four players continue to fight for the important titles. To say that there is a change of mentality, there is need to analyse the season.
I won Doha in the first week of the year, Wawrinka beat me in the final in Australia, in the semis I was playing against Federer. In Indian Wells, Djokovic beat Federer. I won in Rio. Djokovic beat me in Miami and in Monte Carlo, Djokovic and Federer were in the semifinals and in the final, Roger was three points from victory. If there is a change, I don’t think so. Wawrinka started the year very strongly but the four best remain there.
About every tournament that is starting
For me, every rival is dangerous. If I said otherwise, I would show a lot of arrogance. I come out to play every match knowing that I can win or that I can lose. That’s the sport. That’s the beauty of the sport.
(Photos: Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell; Translation: BATennis World)