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March 19, 2008

Rafael Nadal


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did you think at all about the match in Melbourne during this match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. 100% not, no? It's always a different match and normal match. In Melbourne, he played at an unbelievable level. I didn't play my best, for sure, there.
But the ball and the court is a little bit different here, no? The ball is getting a lot topspin, so much more than Australia, so that's help me a little bit for me.
For the rest, well, I didn't play -- I play better today than in Australia, but I say the conditions are better here for me.

Q. Can you talk about what happened from 5-2 in the third set ahead?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, no? I always try to fight every point. I have a little bit lucky, for sure, because maybe come back in the match with 5-2, losing 5-2 in the third, especially against big server like Tsonga, the normal thing is lose 6-3, no?
But, well, I have tough first point in 5-3, so long. Finally I can won this point, and that gives me confidence, no? So important for me having I think having this victory anyway. The victory important for me, but the victory like this always a special and give me confidence. I will be better.

Q. Seemed like at times you were playing well defending, and then you would go offense aggressive and then defending, then offense. Talk about how you were feeling mentally and what your approach was to the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Tsonga is a tough, because if he serve well, it's very difficult to try play aggressive. His second serve is tough, because the bounce is very strange and difficult to attack.
The true is when I have the chance, I try to have the point on the forehand and trying to start the point with -- against his backhand.
But when he has the chance, he has unbelievable forehand, no? So I think I didn't play -- I play a good match. I play comfortable match, because I didn't have too much mistakes.
Probably I have some mistakes with the forehand was because in the last weeks I didn't have very good results, but I feel very well, the ball.

Q. Looking back on the Australian match going into this match, did you feel like it was a chance for you to really even the score with him? Did you look at it as a very important match?
RAFAEL NADAL: When? Today?

Q. Today, yes.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, always important beat against one player that he beat against -- he beat me the last time, no? Because especially in semifinals in Australia like this is a match, always tough, no?
But today I say it's not revenge, not a special match, but the true is important win this match for me. Going to be one of the rivals for this year, try to be in the top positions, so try to win. These matches are very important always.

Q. Were you nervous?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Nothing special, no.

Q. In Australia you never got into the match. He just kind of flew away from you. Today it seemed like you were working hard just to stay in there to push him.
RAFAEL NADAL: It was so different, no? I say the conditions are different here. I am playing better right now, I think. Well, for the rest, there the match start very bad for me. Break against in the first game, and his serve very well. He play unbelievable tennis in the first set, and it was very tough later for me.
Here he start with break, and the next game he break me and I break me again. I break myself (laughter). Two easy forehands outside.
Well, but anyway, the start of the match was so different, and sometimes the first games of the match can change all the match, I think.

Q. So talk about the mental game at the end of third set. He's obviously a very talented player, Australian Open final. But you have the three Grand Slam Championships, the three French Opens, many titles. At the end it looked like you were mentally stronger than he was.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's difficult to say something like this in one match, no? The true is, well, I have more years on the top position, like I have three years I win a lot of matches like today.
Well, some important matches, like two finals in Rome, some matches, a lot of the matches, no? Youzhny in Wimbledon, this year against Moya, one match like this in Chennai.
So the important thing is try to be there all the time, no, try to believe in the victory. Anyway, if you're losing 5-2 in the third, try to be focus in every point. The normal thing is lose, but if you are there, you're going to have one chance, no?

Q. In Australia you said, Let's see if Tsonga can maintain his level. Do you feel like he's in the top 10 players at this point?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure. If he play like this, he going to have his chances in the Masters Cup in Shanghai, for sure. He has a lot of points right now. You know, 700 in Australia and right now 75 more.
So if he continues normal year, I think he going to be to be in the Masters, no? Because 700 points in the first week of the year is a lot.

Q. More specifically, do you think he could get to the very top with the top two or three players, like you and Roger and Novak, that level?

Q. Jo.

Q. Yeah.
RAFAEL NADAL: I know the same like you. I don't know. What do you think? I don't know. Because for be in the top positions, you know, depends. You have to three, four matches during the season, and if you win you going to have your chances for be in the top level.
If you lose, you going to fight for another things. Because if you arrive to the semifinals quarterfinals in Masters Series, Grand Slam and you win these matches, it's a lot of difference, points, no?
But if you lose third round or be in quarterfinals or semifinals is big difference. So you always in one, two matches, change your qualifications I think, your ranking, no? So depends this. My opinion. He has very good shot for be there.

Q. Are you saying that he needs to win matches like he lost today to be at that level?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I didn't say that, no? I say if he, during the year, win these matches, he going to be there. If he lose, he going to have more problem for be there. Like me. Like every player, no?
No difference between him and me. So for be there I have to win these matches, too.

Q. Tsonga expressed he was a little disturbed about how long you took with the serve, and he said he complained to the umpire. Did you hear the complaint, and does that ever effect you when players complain about how much time you take on your serve?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think it's not nice for the other player to go to the umpire and go to say you have to put time violation to other player, no, because the umpire is there for this. So you don't have to do that, no?

Q. Did you hear him complaining during the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I am focus about me.

Q. Just talk a little bit about either Blake or Gasquet.
RAFAEL NADAL: Against Blake, I never beat him before, so it's a challenge for me try to play against him and try to beat him. So going to be nice match for me if I play against him.
Against Gasquet, I played more matches and have more wins, but always very tough matches, no? So going to be very tough quarterfinals if James or Gasquet. Anyway going to be very tough.

Q. Can you also talk about what you remember about playing against James here two years ago?
RAFAEL NADAL: 7-6, 6-3, something like this.

Q. Yeah, I believe so.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, so I have some chances. But, well, in the second set I was 6-3 but I was closer than the result. Well, the last match against him was in Masters Cup in Shanghai. I lost the first set 6-4, and later I was winning like 4-0 in the second.
Finally I lost 7-6, 7-6, no? So in the last matches against him I have chances, but I didn't convert these chances.

Q. Why is it so hard to convert those chances against James when you're able to do it against other players?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, James is very aggressive player. He's always playing aggressive. If he's playing at 100% level, it's very difficult play against him, no?

Q. Yesterday after his match, Roger said he liked playing French players who I think show a great variety, more than the Spanish players who get the ball back. Comment on the difference between the Spanish and the French style and Roger's comment.
RAFAEL NADAL: If I win the match 6-1, 6-1, later I say it's very nice to play against one player, too. That's my opinion. If you win one match like me today, it's different. Your mind is different, no?
I think it's not French style, Spanish style or Swiss style. Every player has different style. My opinion.

Q. So you think there's a lot of variety within the Spanish players, not just a tremendous baselines, but a lot variety within the Spanish players?
RAFAEL NADAL: Feliciano serve and volley. Me, I play from the baseline, but David Ferrer play from the baseline too, but different than me for sure. Verdasco play with unbelievable forehand. Moya play very aggressive, very good serve, very good forehand. Not the same backhand. (Laughter.)
Well, the styles are different for every player, that is my opinion.

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