January 31, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Pepe, as the captain this year for the first time, how do you see the first tie against Australia that everybody is looking forward to?
PEPE VENDRELL: Well, it's going to be a tough battle. We play last year against Australia. For sure they play at home and they have the support of the crowd.
But we are very excited to be here and to start the season playing against Australia in ATP Cup.
Q. Rafa, great match with Alex de Minaur this time last year. What are your thoughts on that matchup now? What do you think of Alex as a player and prospect?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, have been an emotional match, not great for me, but emotional one, yes.
Yeah, he's young, he's improving every year. He has lot of things amazing. Yeah, I think going to be a tough battle for all of us playing against a great team like Australia.
So let's see if we are able to get ready for it.
Q. Rafa, how has your preparation been different this year compared to a normal year when you would come to Australia?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, at home was pretty equal. When we arrived here, we have this quarantine. But I think that's over. Is the moment to start talking about tennis. That's why we came here: to play tennis, to try to give to the fans around the world and to the fans here in Australia a good show.
For some of the people who are suffering a lot at home, we try to have a good entertainment for them. The only way to make that happen is to go on court, try our best.
For me personally, preparation have been positive. I have been able to practice around two hours per day in Adelaide. Some days a little bit more, two hours 15, two hours 20. That's it.
I did I think the things that I had to do to be ready. Now is the moment to start playing and practicing with other colleagues and let's see what's going on.
Q. What do you think it is when a country has this coalescing, a lot of depth all of a sudden, what brings that about? What countries do you see doing that right now?
PEPE VENDRELL: In my opinion, Spain is a country that loves to play as a team, no? We have this culture since we are young. I think it's different because tennis is an individual sport. But in ATP Cup, it's a competition by teams. You play for your country. I think it's a great experience for everyone.
Q. Obviously you were very close in the ATP Cup last year. Is it more now about getting some solid tennis under your belts before the Australian Open or are you really sort of fired up to win this thing?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, of course is different circumstances than last year. Is a very unusual situation for most of us. Most of you that are around tennis knows I never play the week before a Grand Slam. So is a little bit new and is strange situation.
But here I am, the same like the rest of the team, to try our best in every moment. Because we are a team, and a good team, with great players, we have different options. Everybody's ready to play, and to play with very competitive level.
So let's see what's the captain decides and how the circumstances evolves during the next couple of days.
Q. What are your thoughts going into the singles? Either of you could be playing singles alongside Rafa, but possibly against John Millman in the first tie against Australia. Both your thoughts on that situation?
ROBERTO BAUTISTA AGUT: As part of my team talk already, we've been practicing a lot in the last months. I think now it's time to compete. I think everybody did the job well. Everybody practice well. We are ready to start the season playing a nice event, the ATP Cup. I think we are ready to do it.
PABLO CARRENO BUSTA: Yeah, I think that I'm lucky, no, to be part of this team. Of course, I'm unlucky because I have two of the best players of the world before me, so I am the No. 3 of the team. If they play, I cannot play. But if I have the chance to play, of course for me it's a good opportunity to start the season, no? I think for all of us is very important to play matches before Australian Open. So if I have the chance to play, I will try to do my best, no?
I know that Millman is a really good opportunity. Always when you play against Australian guy here in Australia, is very tough. So we'll expect the tough matches as we can and try to do our best.
Q. Roberto, how did you find the quarantine experience? How are you hitting the ball now?
ROBERTO BAUTISTA AGUT: Well, we are happy to be out of quarantine. It was a new situation for all of us. It was a new experience. Well, we try to be better doing a new thing.
Well, now it's time to compete and to start the season. Just thinking on the next match on Tuesday against Australia and putting all my effort there.
Q. Rafa, there are people who are really looking forward to watching this tennis tournament, as you said, people who are suffering. There are also some people here in Australia who have worked extremely hard to contain the virus, and are nervous about all of us being here, that we might create a new outbreak. Do you sense that conflict? Are you at all concerned about that possibility?
RAFAEL NADAL: About canceling the Australian Open?
Q. No, about our presence being here, we might create a new outbreak.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I am not a specialist on this stuff. But from my humble opinion, I just can congratulate the country for an amazing efforts that Australia did to contain the virus here. Is one of the best examples in the world about how to do the things well in this particular case.
I think because they are a great example of doing the things the right way, probably they take all the measures that the country needs to be hundred percent safe having us playing tennis here.
We did tests for 14 days in a row, PCR, and then players who came with a plane that somebody was contaminated, so have been 15 days of quarantine, hard quarantine, just in the hotel room.
From my, repeat, humble personal opinion I think today we are not a risk for the population, no? We appreciate so much the effort that all the country have done, and all Tennis Australia have done to allow us to be here and play our sport, no?
We know that is not the same for a country like Spain or France or maybe another countries that gets a lot of cases. There is no cases here. We can't be the ones who create a big problem in the country.
I think they take all the necessary measures to avoid that. I think the country's safe. We just can say thanks for welcoming us.
Q. Rafa, Naomi Osaka talked about how she's very keen to go to the Olympics. She's concerned about the public safety of Japanese people with so many athletes heading in. Have you made a decision about whether you're going to go to the Olympics? Do you have any concerns about possibly having to quarantine, 10,000 people turning up in Japan with the virus?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is the same as always, no? I am nobody to have a clear opinion on that. I am just a tennis player, a human person that don't have enough knowledge about all the situation.
What we have to do is just follow the instructions of what the people who really have the right knowledge of all this stuff give to us. What's going to happen in Tokyo for the Olympics, if the Olympics going to happen or not, or if we have to do quarantine before Olympics for 15 days or not, seems like a sports perspective very difficult because is difficult for us, I don't know, combining our tour with another 15 days of quarantine to play Olympics. It looks difficult to fix it in our calendar.
But, as I said, we going to do what the people who knows about virus and who knows about protecting the people in every single country are going to just follow their instructions.
Q. Your intention is to go if it's okay?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think everybody wants to play in Olympic Games. Then let's see what's going on.
Q. You're the most experienced doubles player on the team. You could play doubles with any of the guys. It could come down to that doubles match. What are your thoughts as you look ahead to the first tie against Australia?
MARCEL GRANOLLERS: Yeah, I know doubles is also important point. Sometimes is decisive. But I think the Spanish team, we have many options to play. We'll see when we have to play this ending point, the captain, which player he decide to play.
Q. Rafa, if you could step back while you were off the tour for so long, what was the one thing that you most missed about the tour, about tennis, about our world?
RAFAEL NADAL: Honestly, in a normal situation I remember when I got injured for a while, you missed a lot personally the feeling of being competitive, of fight for a real goal, and of course play in front of the crowd. That's something that I missed a lot, no?
In this particular case now with all the virus, of course I missed the tennis, but in the other hand during the tough months of quarantine in Spain, have been too many problems to think about tennis, no? Was not the case that I was missing a lot. I was missing more a normal life than tennis.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports