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January 25, 2022

Rafael Nadal

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

R. NADAL/D. Shapovalov

6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: How did you turn it around in the fifth set? Because he seemed to have the upper hand.

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, was a little bit of miracle. I was destroyed honestly physically. But my serve worked well, and for me, every game that I was winning with my serve was a victory, no? That was my goal, just try to win games with my serve and expect for the chance on the return.


Q. How worried were you at the start of the fifth set? Did you think that you would be able to find a way through?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I think after -- I started to feel bad honestly at the end of the second. It was very warm out there today, yeah, and the conditions were hard.

I think of course all these kind of matches helps to me to be in better shape, but we can't forget that I didn't play much tennis for such a long time, no? So under these very hard conditions, is difficult for me.

I was playing great, I think, for the first two sets, and then I had my chances at the beginning of the third with one Love-30 and then 15-30 with the passing shot that I had down the line. He started to serve huge. I was feeling more tired, and I didn't have chances late, no, because I was not able to hold the rallies.

But, I don't know, of course in the beginning of the fifth set if I was very worried, of course, yes. But more than worried I thought going to be super difficult to win that match, no?

But here I am. Being in semifinals means a lot to me against have a victory against a great player after all the things that I went through, so it's an amazing news, no? I'm super happy.

Q. What did you think on the court when Denis stopped play and went to talk to the umpire about timekeeping and you came up to the net? What was your feeling at that time?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I was asking about what's going on. I didn't understand what's going on in that moment, no? I know I take some extra time at the end of the first set because I had to change everything there on the chair, in the changeover. I think honestly in that case normally at the end of the sets the umpire gives you some extra time, especially under these very humid conditions to change the clothes, because that's obvious that you can't play with the clothes in the condition that I was.

I think in that moment Denis got I think pissed in that moment because the umpire called time and I needed like 30 seconds extra to keep changing my clothes, no?

I think in that moment, and I think it's fair, no, that Carlos give me this extra time at that moment, because normally I think Carlos make a small mistake in that moment that he call time. Normally at the end of the set, the umpire look around and wait a little bit to call time until the player is a little bit ready when he's changing, no?

After that, I mean, I am going through all the rules. I mean, that was the thing. I think, in my opinion, Denis was wrong in that case. I understand that he just lost the set and in some way he wanted to keep playing quick, but I think he understand, and he gonna understand a little bit later that normally you have some time to change your clothes.

When I went to the bathroom at the end of the second set, as I don't know if you know, guys, we have a new rule for this year, normally I think was Stefanos -- I was not on the tour but that's what I heard that Stefanos take a very long time last year a couple of times. So the new rule is when we go to the toilet, they call -- we have just a couple of minutes to stay in the toilet. So after the second set I change all my clothes, and the guy who was coming with me, he was calling me, three minutes, two minutes, one minute. So I was just following the time that they give to me, no?

So I think the rest of the stuff, I don't know. I was much slower than him playing today, honestly.

Q. Denis has just been in and he said he feels you get special, preferential treatment, not just today but normally.

RAFAEL NADAL: Me? Just me or top players?

Q. I think top players. Certainly you, the big three as well. Just want your reaction to that. Do you feel after all these years you have earned a little bit of special treatment?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. Not in that case, no, no. I really believe that on the court you don't deserve better treatment than the others. And I really don't want it and I don't feel I have it.

Without a doubt, even as everybody knows, that I have a huge respect for Carlos, and I think he's a great umpire. Is not the case that he was always hard with me on court, no? No, no, I don't think that's the case.

I really believe that sometimes the -- it's always in the mind that the top players get bigger advantages, no, and honestly on court is not true, no? That's my feeling. I never feel that I had advantages on court, and I really believe that he's wrong in that case, no?

If I am not wrong, in the last couple of years we have a clock, we increase the measures to make the things more fair for everyone, no?

I honestly feel sorry for him. I think he played a great match for a long time. Of course is tough to accept to lose a match like this, especially after I was feeling destroyed and probably he felt that, and then I was able to manage to win the match, no?

I wish him all the very best. I think he will -- he's young, and everybody, I think we all make mistakes on our careers. I make a lot of mistakes too when I was younger, and probably he will understand later on after he thinks the proper way that probably he was not right today.

Q. Can you talk about possible semifinals opponents, Matteo and Gael. How much will it help after today to have the two days off?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, gonna be important the two days. I was in the other position a lot of times in my career too playing very long matches and then have to play after one day.

This time helps that I played on Monday. That's always the same on the Grand Slams. Yeah, I think can be important to have these two days off after this brutal thing today out there, no? The conditions were hard. And, yeah, of course gonna help.

Both players gonna be super difficult. Gael started the season amazing. I think he's playing fantastic. He didn't lose a set here, and he won a tournament in Adelaide if I'm not wrong. So he's playing great. Everybody knows that Gael when he's playing well how dangerous he is and how good he is.

Matteo, he's one of the best players of the world since a while already, no? He's very solid. Yeah, no, no, I need to play my 100% and my highest level if I want to keep having chances to fight, to be competitive, and to try to be in the final, no?

I don't know. I am super happy today. For me, this victory is super important in these circumstances, and be able to win the semifinals of a Grand Slam after everything is a lot of positive energy for me. Yeah, I can't thank enough the crowd for the support in the tough moments that I had, couple on the match. Have been super special for me to feel that support, yeah.

I am enjoying every single day here.

Q. I just wondered how different you feel in your body and mind compared to when you arrived when you were perhaps unsure how things would go here?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, well, I won how many matches here, five already? Five here? Yeah, five matches. Three last week. Of course after eight matches you feel a little bit more confident and the things are going a little bit more automatic again.

Yeah, I have been playing well, no? Of course after that I had the thing on court, the physical issue that I was not able to keep moving the proper way for the rest of the match. But when I was physically well, I think I was playing a little bit better than him, no? I had the match a little bit under control in the first two sets. I mean, under control, you never have the match under control against a player like Denis, no? But kind of.

And that's so important, no, be able to, for me personally, no, in terms of personal satisfaction to be able to play at this level against a player like him, that he's one of the best players of the world, and see myself again competitive against these kind of players, for me it's everything, no? So I just, as I say, I just enjoying every single moment, try my best playing with the highest positive attitude possible and with the right spirit, no?

Yeah, let's see. I don't know. I just happy now.

Q. What is the best thing about playing here? What do you enjoy the most about playing in Australia? You have won it once. You have reached a lot of finals. It is a happy hunting ground for you.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I always enjoy it, no? Honestly the way that the organization treat the players, not only the top players, every single player, is no comparable to, there is no comparation with any other Slam, honestly, no. The way that everybody, all the players felt welcome always here and supportive from Tennis Australia is difficult to thank enough.

I think everybody feel happy to be here and everybody feel the support, every single player, doesn't matter the ranking.

In my personal feeling is always very special. I think the crowd always is fantastic, a crowd with a lot of energy. And conditions that can be very changing because is in Melbourne that the weather can be brutal like today and then the next day can be 19 degrees, no? So you need to adapt to every single condition. That makes the things more interesting, beautiful in some way, I think.

Yeah, I always enjoy it. The country in general, honestly I have been in Brisbane, have been in Adelaide, have been in Perth, and I enjoy playing in every single city, no? I think is a sports country, people who really understand about sports and really love sport in general.

I am a big fan of the sport in general, more than a player, no? So I feel a good communication, good feeling with the people from here, from this beautiful country.

Q. What does it mean to you for you to be tied with Novak and Roger for the most slams titles ever, and what do you hope to achieve ultimately in that regard?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, for me, the fact that we are equal at 20, it just that the only thing that says is that we share an amazing (indiscernible) of the history of our sport, and for me it's a real honor to be part of it, without a doubt.

And I don't hope anything. I just keep going. I am just enjoying playing tennis, as I said hundreds of times. But honestly, and from the bottom of my heart, I really don't -- of course I want to keep winning, but more than because I want to achieve or I want to have more than the others is because I love what I am doing, no? I want to keep doing this as long as possible, no?

Of course the last six months have been a lot of, six months, more, have been a lot of doubts if I would be able to keep going. But now I feel good, no? We are in a position that we won a tournament, we are in semifinals of Australian Open, so that's amazing for me.

In terms of what can happen in the future, honestly I really don't care that much (smiling). I don't believe that my happiness, my future happiness gonna depends on if I achieve one more Grand Slam than the others or if the others achieve more Grand Slams than me.

No, I am super satisfied and feel very lucky person in general for all the things that happen to me in this life, no? I have a way to approach life. You can't be always frustrated if the other, if the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a better phone or a better thing, no? I'm not going to be frustrated if Novak or Roger finishes the career with more Grand Slams than me, no?

I mean, let's enjoy the situation that we did, every one of us, we did very special things in our sport. Let's enjoy that. Doesn't matter the other thing.

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