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January 22, 2008

Rafael Nadal


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is that the sort of match you needed at this stage of the tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, maybe I wasn't play my best match, my best tennis today, but it was enough. I'm happy about the victory. I didn't play bad.
I played very good with my forehand, I think. I touched the ball when I have time, touched the ball perfect every time. Well, the rest, little bit worse than the last match, the serve and the backhand.
That's Points to improve on this match if I want chances for win.

Q. Do you believe overall you are playing your best hardcourt tennis?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't think, no? I am playing well. I'm playing good tennis, good level, but last year I played very good level in many tournaments. In Indian Wells I played very well, I think. Similar, little bit better than here.
I don't know, some more tournaments. But last year I played very nice tournaments on hardcourt, no? Anyway, it a good moment for me. Be the first semifinals on hardcourt, Grand Slam, and so it's very important for me. I'm happy to because I am here without losing a set. That's always an important point.

Q. Does this surface suit your game more?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. No, I think when I am playing fine, when I am playing well, I can play well in all surfaces, no? It's not new play good in hardcourt. I had some quarterfinals, but didn't have semifinals yet in Grand Slam. I say before, I play very good tournaments.
So happy, because always is important cross the quarterfinals. I play it in here and in United States, US Open. So closest, this round, is very important for me.
I right now try my best for being in this final, no? If I'm in the final on Sunday, going to be a dream for me here, no, start the season like this. I'm very happy about my start here, playing the final in Chennai and being in the semifinals here. It's better than I thought.

Q. You saved nine set points in the first set since the beginning of the tournament. How important is it to win the first set to enter in the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, for sure it's very important, save set points in the first set, especially because if you save set points, go a little bit more down later, no? But I think I'm playing well in important moments, I'm playing fine.
Serving with good position in this moments. And I'm happy because I save some important moments this week.

Q. What can you say about Jarkko as a tennis player and a person?
RAFAEL NADAL: Very, very nice guy. Very good person, I'm sure. He never has any problem with nobody, so I have very good relation with him. I think he's perfect person and he's very good player, very complete player, only a little bit second serve.
But for the rest, he has all the shots, no? He can do backhand, very good backhand, good forehand, very fast on court. So he can do very well. For the last years, he's in the very good position in the ranking.

Q. How does your body feel compared to last year at the US Open and hardcourts?
RAFAEL NADAL: My body is perfect, no? (laughter) Physically speaking. Nothing perfect.

Q. At the US Open last year you were struggling a bit at the end. Is it much better now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure, no? Last year I played -- second of the tour who played more matches, and they only had the problem at the US Open. So it was a very, very good year for me, physically speaking. And this year I start very well, no? I don't have any problems at US Open and I'm in semifinals without losing a set.
Always help a little bit because would be more fresh in the slams, no? But physically I'm very happy, no? I don't have any problem.

Q. Will you watch the other quarterfinal tonight?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure. I'm going to watch a little bit in the hotel. Relax. Go little bit to the swimming pool. Rest.

Q. Do you have to tell yourself on court to play aggressively on hardcourts, or is it coming more naturally to you now?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have to continue to play more aggressive, no? I -- I need start good the matches, like the match before against Mathieu, no? More aggressive, trying to go inside the court and trying to do the point with the forehand.
Because I am touching perfect the forehand. So sometimes I play like this with my forehand, so it's easy to understand I'm a little bit more behind. But right now I have to go inside because I am touching very good the ball with the forehand, and I have to do for this in the semifinals if I want to win.
And for sure everybody tell me you have to play more aggressive in hardcourt. You have to serve better. I am trying. I am working very hard always. This is what I do in practice. When I say a lot, it's a lot.
Well, with my uncle -- well, sure, my uncle always repeat me the same: Go inside. Don't lose court. Don't go behind the line. I'm working very hard on this.

Q. So you think this would be a good season, or this season, for you to win an Open rather than Roland Garros in one of the other surface? If this season, 2008 will be the season where we see Rafael Nadal to win an Open than the Roland Garros one?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I am semifinals right now, no? I don't want to think about that, because winning Grand Slam is very difficult. In grass, in clay, everything difficult in Grand Slam. This year I gonna try my best, but the same like every year. Not like this year is the year.
Last year I try my best. This year I gonna try my best another time. If it's better. This year I start better than last year. If not this year, next year, next year, next year. I gonna try my best all the career for try to win Grand Slam outside of clay.

Q. A lot of your opponents are stepping into the court taking time away from you. Tsonga and Youzhny both have that game plan, as well. How are you going to try to overcome that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat?

Q. Simon and even, say, Nieminen was stepping into the court, sort of taking time away from you. Tsonga and Youzhny can sort of play that similar sort of game. How are you going to overcome that? What are your thoughts?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, everybody can do it, because every player tries to go inside the court, try to play aggressive against me. Because the people knows if we play long point from the baseline, I have bit more chances. But the people try to go inside the court.
Youzhny is a difficult player for me to play against him. I lost some times against him. The final of Chennai doesn't count. It's not in my mind, this one, because I can't play, no?
But the last times, yes. He beat me in Dubai last year, in the US Open 2006. And I beat him, yeah, sometimes too. In Wimbledon, in Bercy at the end of the season.
So always it's a very tough match against him. He play very aggressive, he go inside the court and he's playing very well, no?
And Tsonga the same: Big serve, very aggressive player. Everybody can do it, no? The thing is try to play like this. I have to play aggressive if I want to win the semifinals, aggressive and good.

Q. This might be the first time that you've reached a semifinal at a Grand Slam, and you haven't played so many hours on court. Can you talk about that and whether that's a very good thing for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not about experience. It's better than usually. I always play a lot of time on court. This year, no one match more than two hours and a half, I think. So it's very good for me. That's a very good thing about my game, no?
Sure, I have little bit luck against Mathieu, but the rest of the matches is a good move. Play not more than two hours and a half.

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