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June 9, 2019

Rafael Nadal

Paris, France

R. NADAL/D. Thiem

6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Congratulations.
RAFAEL NADAL: Thank you.

Q. In the last 12 triumphs and in the last two hours, you have been asked everything. Would you mind to ask a question to yourself that has not been asked yet?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I did not answer not one question yet almost. But, no, probably the answers and the questions will be the same as always (smiling).

But I'm very happy to answer.

Q. Then tell us how you could go to the net 27 times and make 23 points, which is not so expected.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, normally when I go to the net, I go with good positions, with advantage positions. Normally I have a good volley there to finish the point, no?

So was important today at some times that for me was so important to not lose court against him, because, if not from few meters back, so difficult because he's very powerful with his forehand and is so difficult to play against his backhand when they are on fire, far back from the court.

But I think I managed the situation well. First set have been so tough. High intensity, great points.

Then it was impossible to hold that thing during the whole match. Second set became more -- we were winning our serves with comfort. And then he played a good game, I played a bad game in the 6-5, and that's it. Then I went to the bathroom. I was able to think a little bit about what's going on and just come back with clear ideas.

Q. Congratulations on your 12th title here at Roland Garros. It's just a remarkable feat that you have accomplished, 12 Championships at this Grand Slam. You have had a difficult year in terms of your health. You have had to withdraw from tournaments and retire from tournaments. Does that make this victory at Roland Garros that much more satisfying?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. Not only this year. Last year have been a tough year, too. It have been a great year in terms of level of tennis because I played nine events. And I was only able to finish seven tournaments during the whole year and finish, like, World No. 1. Give me a chance to win here last year and in Wimbledon very close. The US Open I had to retire, too. So a lot of issues, and then at the end of the season with the knee. Then I had to do surgery on my foot.

And this beginning of the season in terms of level of tennis have been positive, but again, some issues, no? Like Indian Wells, like Brisbane, like Acapulco, too. Too many issues the last 18 months. So that's makes these last few weeks very, very special.

Q. Congratulations. Could you take a moment and talk about your will, your desire, so that every point is like a match point to you? Can you say where that comes from or is that a prime weapon for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, no, I don't play every point like match point because if not I would lose more than win. Losing the match point you are much more nervous than a normal point, no?

But I don't know. I think I had a lot of issues during all my tennis career in terms of health. So I always played with high intensity, big passion for this sport.

Big passion for the competition, too, no? And all the things that I went through probably give me that extra passion when I am playing, because I know I will not be here forever. So I just try to be positive, to be intense, and to be passionate about what I am doing.

The time that I will be playing, I need to be like this, no? If not, for me at this stage of my career, don't make sense.

Q. Can you tell us what it was like to have Rod Laver present you with that trophy there?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always a big honor, no? We have him very often on the tour, and that's always great news, no?

That makes our sport bigger, have legends of our sport around the tournaments, around the sport is great news. In my opinion, the last couple of years, we are doing this, I mean, in our sport better than before, no?

Legends are around that makes our sport bigger, and that's good for everybody. It's so nice for me and a big honor to receive the trophy from him. We know him very well, and he's a great man. Definitely he's one of the greatest of the history in our sport.

Q. Carlos Moya was telling us what a difficult couple of months it's been. So how hard was it for you to get back into top shape mentally?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is tough when you have issues in a row. So that's all, no? And after, honestly after Indian Wells, as I said couple of times, mentally I was down. Physically and mentally, but for me I always put more attention on the mental side.

Mentally, I lost a little bit that energy, because I had too many issues in a row. Is tough when you receive one, another, and then sometimes you are groggy, you know, (smiling). You know from where the things are coming.

For me it was so important that team, family, all these moments have the people, the right people around me. That helps a lot. Honestly, Monte-Carlo and the beginning of Barcelona I said a couple of times have been tough for me, because mentally I was not enjoying. Too much worried about the health and, being honest, too negative.

After the first round in Barcelona, I was able to stay alone for a couple of hours in the room and think about it and think about what's going on, what I need to do. And it have been a couple of issues that I had to decide, no? One possibility have been stop for a while and recover my body. And the other was change drastically my attitude and my mentality to play the next couple of weeks.

Thinking a lot, finally I think I was able to change and was able to fight back for every small improvement that I was able to make that happen. And since that first match against Mayer in Barcelona, I think the things have been improving every single day since today.

I played not bad in Barcelona the next three rounds. I played better in Madrid, and I played much better in Rome, and here I played a great event. So of course these small things that I have been improving every single day and doing with the right attitude, doing with the right passion, that's the only way for me to be back where I am today.

Of course have this trophy with me means a lot. But personally, the personal satisfaction of change the dynamic is the thing that I am more satisfied.

Q. Well done today. After the Australian Open at the start of this year, Novak sat similarly to how you are now, and he said, after winning his 15th slam, "Now I want to chase Roger's record of 20." You have never been, during your career, within two Grand Slams of Roger since you first won a slam. First of all, I was wondering how amazing is it for you being that close to Roger, given all the injury and struggles you have had throughout your career? And second of all, how much does it motivate you? All three of you have said in the past you have all motivated each other to climb to that next step. How much does it motivate you now that you're so close to that sort of record?
RAFAEL NADAL: Of course we push each other. But I lost, I think, around 15 or even more Grand Slams in my career for injuries. So have been -- is difficult.

But being honest, I never complain myself much, and I never tried to think about, Well, I gonna catch Roger or not. Being honest, I am not very worried about this stuff, no?

You can't be frustrated all the time because the neighbor has a bigger house than you (smiling) or a bigger TV or better garden. That's not the way that I see the life, you know.

And I just try to do my way. I feel very lucky about all the things that are happening to me. And if, at the end of my career, I am able to win a couple of more Grand Slams and be closer to Roger, will be unbelievable. If not, for me, still unbelievable, no?

And today, the last thing that I thought before you ask me that is about this thing. For me, Roland Garros, feel myself enjoying again on court. That's the main thing, no?

Then what can happen in the future, we will see. I gonna try my best to keep enjoying tennis, giving myself chances to compete at the highest level, and we will see what's going on.

Q. People have said for a long time in the past that your game style wouldn't last for a long time, that you wouldn't play for a long time. How did it feel to hear that? How does it feel that you've been able to win from when you were a teenager and now when you're a veteran?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. The thing is people likes to predict the future, and I don't pretend that, never. So when I hear that, I always said, Maybe. I was not sad to hear that. I said, Okay, maybe yes and maybe not. And that's all.

The positive thing is -- I had issues, of course, but I always find a way to keep going, you know, and to do my route. And here I am at the age of 33, enjoying, playing good tennis, and let's see for how long I am able to manage and to hold this.

Q. Can I ask you about Wimbledon? Do you think that you will play any tournaments before Wimbledon? And I wonder, do you feel -- you had a very good Wimbledon last year. Can you compare your condition now, looking ahead to Wimbledon, compared with 12 months ago?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know I played a great event last year. I have been able to be very close to win another title there. As everybody knows, I love to play on grass. And as everybody knows, I am not able to play so many weeks in a row like I did ten years ago, eight years ago. So I have to do my schedule.

Honestly, the last two years that I played in Wimbledon, I felt close again. Even if the first year have been that match against Muller, I played great tennis there too. I was very close to being in the quarterfinals, and last year I was one point away to that final.

So I will not play before Wimbledon, of course. The experience says that having the right preparation then, practicing well, and maybe couple of matches, I don't know, before there. I felt competitive last couple of years, so why I need to change that? What give me better chance is being healthy more than play a lot of matches before.

Q. Did you feel today on the court that it helped you that Dominic didn't finish his semifinal until yesterday? And were you surprised that the match was delayed by a day?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is a question for Dominic more than for me, because I don't know his feelings. But he's 25 or 26. 25?

In terms of physical terms, I don't think he was more tired. For that, in terms of routines, of course change a little bit the routines when you play the day before. So probably in the ideal world for him would be better to have the day off yesterday.

But at the same time, he's young. He's very fitted, very well-prepared for all this stuff. And sometimes play just the day before hold your adrenaline high during the kind of match he won yesterday.

I don't know. Of course, I saw him very well physically today. I don't think was a physical issue. Then we need to ask him if he was very tired or not. But he was running a lot (smiling).

It was a good level of tennis. I think at the beginning of the third set was the key, in my opinion. But have been a brutal first set, and then he was able to win the second, too. I don't know.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. First of all, congratulations. I wanted to ask you what you felt the first time you won this Grand Slam here and today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's like we all evolve in this life, and obviously the way you feel also changes with time.

But the first one was extremely moving, because it was the first one, obviously.

Now, being able at this time in my career to get another victory is obviously a great satisfaction and a great happiness. I thank all the people who support me, my family, my team for their great support, which I need, which is necessary for me.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, this has been a difficult year. And when you are constantly hit in the face, you end up being hurt.

Well, I have had very difficult moments when I was hurt because of all my physical problems. But with the support of all the people around me, I can tell you that thanks to my desire to continue, I was able to move forward.

A few weeks ago, I was in a difficult situation, and I decided I was going to improve little by little, to go to the court and decide to improve progressively without taking drastic steps.

I said it in Barcelona and in Madrid. I don't think that making drastic changes or drastic improvements are a good thing. It's better to take small steps that you can consolidate. And I feel that I have been able to do that over the past four weeks, every week a little bit better, every match a little bit better.

The match against Tsitsipas in Madrid showed me that I was improving, but my personal feelings were much better, and it was a great step ahead. And obviously winning helped me, but more than winning, the confidence I had and what happened in Rome helped me come over here with some confidence in me.

Q. Congratulations for your title today. I wanted to ask you the question, this is a tournament where you lost a set against Goffin and against Thiem today, and you faced Federer, as well. Can you tell me which is the match that you're happier to have won to get to this 12th title?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I would say it's the one today. He has been the most difficult opponent, and it has been the most difficult match. So I would say it's this one.

No, I wouldn't say that with any of the other matches I was able to say that with this I'm going to get my 12th title. This was not what I had in mind.

Maybe I needed this kind of approach in Rome, for example, thinking, Well, I must go and win to be able to go to Paris. No. What I felt was I had to play well. And when I got here, I was feeling good and I was playing tennis properly.

And when this happens, then my options are, Well, am I going to win or lose? Well, it depends on the match. Anything can happen.

Q. Congratulations. There was a turning point in the match. Then you went to the lockers, and then you came out again. What happened in your mind at that time? What did you change to make this huge change from losing the second set to winning the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, first of all, I had to go to the bathroom, to the men's room. But also, I wanted to think and be clear-minded and go back to the court with the right mindset to keep control of the match, because up till then I hadn't felt that.

He had served well. Every time I was in a bad position after he served because, with someone like Dominic, it's very difficult to return. He hits very hard. I managed to hit the first ball from a good position. But with him, it's very difficult to return when he's in attacking position.

So I analyzed things, and I felt that I had to solve this particular problem. For the rest, I was playing well. But the important thing seemed to be not to give him the advantage when he was serving well and I had problems returning.

Q. Talking about thinking and what came through your mind, what was the first thing that came to your mind when you threw yourself on the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: Honestly, you don't think about anything. You don't think, I'm just going to throw myself on the floor. It just comes like that.

I can tell you -- well, I hadn't prepared it, and it was also a drop in tension suddenly. I don't know. I can tell you it's something unique to win again here, and it was something very complicated for me in my mind.

Q. I know you said it in English, but the fact that you want to equal Roger's number of titles in Grand Slam, is that a motivation?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's a motivation, but it's not my obsession. If you ask me whether I would like it, of course. If that's a goal in my career, no. It's not what makes me get up every morning or go and train and play. It's not the way in which I view the sport, and it's not the way in which I consider my sports career.

I want to follow my own journey, give myself the best opportunities, and give myself the possibility of competing at the highest level. And if I end up in a position like that of today where I'm the one who won most Roland Garros in history, well, all very well.

But I don't think my future will be worth any more if I equal Federer's record or if I do something like Djokovic or whatever. I consider that I'm going much further than I dreamt about in my career.

I'm having a very long and successful career, obviously. I have been able to have great experiences. And if it weren't for tennis, I wouldn't have lived these experiences now.

But my career, we'll see where I stand in general terms. But as I said in English before you asked the question, this is the last thing that I was thinking about, honestly.

I just value my playing and having this beautiful career more than anything.

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