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June 4, 2019

Rafael Nadal

Paris, France

R. NADAL/K. Nishikori

6-1, 6-1, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Are you more pleased the way you won all these matches in the tournament or also the fact that you are in the semifinal and have to play again Roger Federer, which is a legendary dual?
RAFAEL NADAL: Being honest, personally, for me, the main thing is being in the semifinal. The way that I have been playing have been, being honest, very positive. I have been playing well, very solid. Winning good matches against tough opponents like today. I am happy with that.

Of course after having Roger in front in the semifinals is an extra thing. We shared the most important moments of our careers together on court facing each other.

So is another episode of this, and happy for that and excited, no? Will be special moment, and let's try to be ready for it.

Q. Give me a sense about whether you believe that throughout the tournament your game is constantly improving. And given that you've played Roger so many times, how do you prepare if any different than other matches in which you have played Roger before?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, now is just finished my match, two days off, is the moment to stay a little bit away of all of this. And, you know, after tomorrow, start a little bit.

Tomorrow is, you know, to be a little bit freedom, you know, with the mind clear and enjoying family and practicing a little bit but without many goals probably tomorrow, just to move a little bit the body. And after tomorrow start to think about what we want to do, no?

But is always a big match against him. You know, the level of tennis that you need to play always is the highest. And I am playing well, but I need to play very well against him (smiling). So I hope to be ready to make that happen.

Q. Another good win today. Everyone is saying how well you are playing again at Roland Garros this year, but what challenges do you think that you have faced so far?
RAFAEL NADAL: The challenge is every day. That's the true, no? Every opponent is a challenge. And then I just try to do my personal work the right way to be ready for the next one.

Today have been a positive victory against Kei. Of course probably he was a little bit more tired than usual. No doubt about it.

But I did the things well, what I had to do, I think. I think the ball is flying well, and that's it. Just to do my thing.

I have been, as I say, improving during the whole clay court season. Every tournament will be more. And now is the moment to play at the highest level, and we hope to be able to make that happen.

Q. There was, in hindsight, quite a humorous moment at the Australian Open where Andy Murray was retired on court with a video from guys like yourself, Novak, Roger. He's just confirmed that he will be playing doubles at Queen's in a couple of weeks' time. Just wondering, at that moment did you think there was any chance he would be coming back and what your thoughts on his return as a whole?
RAFAEL NADAL: Being honest for me, is a little bit surprising that he announced that, that quick. So I always thought that he will find a way to try to be back, because still young and still very passionate about the game. So I'm happy to see that he gonna play again, no?

That's great news for, first, for him and for his team and family, and then for the tour by itself and then for the fans. So is good for the world of tennis. Happy for it, and especially happy for him.

Q. Kei played a match three days in a row, so, you know, Kei seemed tired a little bit. Did you have an advantage for physical side on your side?
RAFAEL NADAL: Probably, yes, yes. I won two days ago straight-sets match. And Kei played much more tennis than me during the event. That's the real thing (smiling).

Q. At the end of the game, you seemed to disagree a little bit with the referee. Could you be in favor of Hawk-Eye on clay, or...
RAFAEL NADAL: No, is good that the referees takes decisions, no? You know, the ball was difficult to -- it was a difficult call. No, no. I was not even sure myself. There's one thing in the center court that the line is a little bit -- you know, the white finish one, like this (indicating), and then there is an extra thing that is not white but the same material of the line.

So I think that creates a little bit of confusion with umpires. That's my feeling. So I don't know. Will be good if they go and paint this on white too (smiling), because then is -- I don't know. I don't know how the rule is.

But in my opinion, that ball, if we count just where the white is finishing, my opinion was out (smiling). If we count the same material but is not white, the ball is good. So I don't know what is the criteria on this.

Q. I know that Kei Nishikori was tired today, but he didn't seem to have any chance to win this game. But in 2014, back in Madrid, he was about to win the match against you, and he beat you in Rio de Janeiro in Olympic Games. Do you think he used to be more dangerous opponent, for example, for five years ago?
RAFAEL NADAL: More dangerous now than five years ago?

Q. Yeah. Do you see any difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: He's very good player always. Five years ago, he played the final of the US Open. He win against a lot of good players already, and today he's still winning against great players.

I feel that everybody's dangerous. And Kei is which number in the world? 7 of the world?

He's the No. 7 of the world, so is the 7th more dangerous player in the world today. Being honest.

Q. It's a long time since you played Roger here. Are you happy to have the chance again? And do you think the matchup will be different in any way now?
RAFAEL NADAL: There is no two matches the same. All the matches are different, because we always try things. Let's see. Let's see what's going on.

I really expect that he gonna play aggressive, changing rhythms, going to the net. That's my feeling, that he gonna try to play that way, because he's playing well and he has the tennis to make that happen.

I have to be solid. I have to hit the ball enough strong to don't allow him to do the things from good positions. I need to let him play from difficult positions, so from there he gonna have less chances to go to the net or to play his aggressive game.

So at the end of the day is play well. If I am able to play good tennis and play well with my forehand and backhand, I hope to put him in trouble. If not, I will be in trouble (smiling).

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. Roger, after the end of one of his matches, he said one of the reasons why came on clay was to play against you. Does that inspire you?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, that's not true. He didn't say that. No, no. He came back on clay because he's a player who is comprehensive, who plays well on all surfaces. And on clay he has good chances of winning.

One thing is that he feels physically ready. He's coming back because he wants to do so. And if he feels in good shape physically, well, he should not leave out a main part of the season. That's his main reason.

Maybe we can add anecdotes like these ones, but indeed, it's going to be a very special match for him, for me, and so it's always been special matches. But here it's going to be even more specific, more particular, an important match, indeed.

He will be ready to give his best, and I will be there, too.

Q. The fact that he has won against you the last five matches, that you have won five times against him and 13 out of 15 on clay, are these statistics useful?
RAFAEL NADAL: We'll see that on Friday. For the time being, I can't tell you anything. Unfortunately, I can't give you any prognostic.

But what I will do is try to do my best, so that the victories I have won on this surface against him count for something. And he will do his utmost to make sure that his latest victories against me have their weight. And so we'll see.

It's really a particular match. We all know it. But in the end, it's just a tennis match. The best player will have the most chances of winning this match. It's a match between the best players in the world, indeed. But then the player who will be the closest, will have the most chances, will win.

Q. I wanted to ask you a question. It's been a number of years you have been playing against each other. Where is the merit to the fact that you have gone so far? You're both over 30? What motivates you to play against him again?
RAFAEL NADAL: In the merit, I think that it's in the desire, the passion, and passion for what we're doing.

So I think that in my case, even more than in his case, after all the problems I have faced and, well, what keeps the flame alive is this desire, the desire to play, to be sportive, to play on the main stages where I've been playing tennis for all these years, understanding that this won't last forever.

So I want to give myself the maximum chances with my body, with my mind, because the mind always follows the body and the physical shape.

So as long as I'll be happy doing what I'm doing, as long as I'll wake up with the desire to do as everyday what I'm doing, I will continue being here.

And for the time being, things are rolling well. Everything is running smoothly. So I take advantage, enjoy all these opportunities. And then I have this chance of living special moments in the history of our sport.

The fact of playing so many times against Novak two weeks ago in Rome, and the fact of playing again Roger in semifinals, these are moments for which we are working on a daily basis and for which we get prepared to the best we can.

Beyond the fact of winning or not, we really want to be competitive and to fight in the most correct way and to enjoy that.

Q. How do you perceive Roger? Because you have played against each other many times. So maybe he seems a bit closer, a bit more reachable or winnable than in 2011 during the finals?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's a kind of question I can't answer. Because if I had played him two, three times in Madrid, Monte-Carlo, Rome, I could answer your question. I could tell you, well, how I feel him, see him right now. But I haven't played him recently. I haven't played any match against him.

So these things, I would feel them on the court. And it's been many years we have been playing against each other and playing matches against one another.

Last time it was in 2011; is that right? Well, 2013? Okay.

But here in 2011, no? Okay. 2013. It's been many years indeed.

So I don't know how we both are, how we feel. What we are? We are in semifinals, that's for sure. And we are part of the four best players of the tournament. That's the reality.

Beyond, I cannot tell you anything. Semifinals are always very difficult matches, whatever the opponent. And with Roger Federer, I know it's going to be even one step higher.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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