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August 23, 2008

Rafael Nadal


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You feel any added pressure, any different coming into this tournament ranked No. 1?
RAFAEL NADAL: Why? I don't think so. The pressure is the same. When you want to win, the goal is still the same and the pressure is still the same. The goal is still continuing improve my tennis, and continuing playing a very good tournament. That's the only goal.
Be No. 1, sure, very happy for be No. 1. Big satisfaction for me after long time being No. 2. But at the same time, nothing change, no?

Q. How difficult is it physically and mentally to play so many big tournaments in a row like that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, it was very tough season still, so, you never know, no? I am confident about try to continue playing like the last tournament.
I know, every tournament is very tough, especially because here there are best players of the world are here, and because I have lot of matches on my shoulders, no? So for sure going to be tough, but hopefully I can be fine, no?

Q. Can you give me your thoughts on this particular tournament? Every tournament has its own sort of unique flare. This is obviously playing in the lights, big city of New York. How do you feel about this particular tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: All tournaments is very important. Here is the last Grand Slam of the season, so going to be important, very important for everybody. For me, too, no?
If I play good tournament here, I gonna have chances for continue to be No. 1 for more time. For sure, maybe New York an important city, one of my favorite cities. To be here is a pleasure, and always play, New York is big motivation.

Q. Do you consider Roger a friend?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, my friends is -- my friends are in Mallorca, so my friends -- I know my friends since I was five years old when I went to school.
Roger is I think -- I don't know exactly how to explain in English. (Speaking Spanish.)
BENITO PEREZ: He's a great partner, he's a great buddy of his. But the language also creates a little bit of a barrier for him.
BENITO PEREZ: More than a bit. Yeah, goes out to dinner with Roger he does it with more than pleasure. But to be friends, the real friend are the ones that are in Mallorca since school.

Q. But they have gone out to dinner together?

Q. How comfortable are you playing on the hard court, especially after winning the gold medal in Beijing?
RAFAEL NADAL: When you are playing well you feel comfortable on all courts, no? I did very well the last weeks. Since Miami I am playing very well in all surfaces.
But in the past when I was playing well, I did well in hardcourt, too, no? I feel good for sure. I win two tournaments. I won two tournaments in Toronto and the Olympics, and I play semifinals in Cincinnati.
I had good results in this court is very good news. We will see.

Q. Can you reflect, just discuss what it meant to you to be representing Spain in Beijing, particularly coming off of Roland Garros and then Wimbledon and then to go off to Beijing and represent Espana, can you just talk about that experience.
RAFAEL NADAL: I feel all the sportsman, when you are playing international tournaments or international competitions, you are representing your country. Not only playing Davis Cup or the Olympics.
But for sure when you are playing one competition like the Olympic Games, on all the countries I watching the sports. So for sure it is a pleasure, no, for me represent my country. Always is special motivation.
I start in 2004 represent my country in Davis Cup, and since that moment, I feel very special feeling when I am representing my country.

Q. What's the schedule been like since Beijing? When did you get here?

Q. Pretty quick?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, very quick. Do nothing interesting. Just be here. I went to the -- watch the musical, Phantom of the Opera one night. I have some touristic, a little bit through Central Park, and later just playing a little bit.

Q. How big a deal was jet lag for you? Did you have to do anything special for that?
RAFAEL NADAL: It was tough, because two weeks ago I went from Cincinnati to Beijing, 12 hours, and went 12 more hours. So it's tough, but I don't want to think about that, no? You think less gonna be important.

Q. The other night you said after the Olympics you really enjoyed the athlete village and being around all those athletes. Did you learn anything from any of the athletes there or enjoy their company, getting away from tennis?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always you learn new things, no? It's very important experience of my life. I enjoy being with a lot of other sportsmen of the world. Was very nice experience.
You know, everything is -- with tennis we have lucky. Everything is professional. But when you are there you feel another kind of feelings, no? You watch the other sports, you watch the other sportsmen, and for this (Speaking Spanish.)
BENITO PEREZ: It's not as easy for them as it is for us. They don't have such a probably professional circuit around them, so to see how they do things, you can tell it's different, you know. Sort of in a way they're more lucky than tennis players to have such an organized and professional circuit.
RAFAEL NADAL: But it's an amazing feeling, being there, eating when you go to eat for dinner, for lunch, you were there, with, I don't know, 6,000 people around, 6,000 sportsmen around the world. So it was, believe me, it was unbelievable.

Q. Now that you have the No. 1 ranking, do you feel there's more pressure on you now? Roger was saying now you're going to feel what he's been feeling for the last five years.
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I answered the question some questions ago, no? For me, doesn't change. Nothing too much. The goal is still the same: Continuing improve my tennis and trying to continue winning titles. So the pression is not different three weeks ago than three weeks later.
I am the same. Just when I go on court I'm not thinking if I am No. 1 or if I am No. 2, no? I was very happy being No. 2 for the last three years, but now I'm happy for be No. 1.
I know how tough it is No. 1, and I know for sure I can go back to No. 2 or No. 3 in next months, no? So you have to be ready for everything and try to enjoy this moment and accept everything.
Enjoy this moment, because not all your careera I play like I did in the last six months, so all the time you have better moments, worse moments. Right now I have my best moment in my careera.
You know, probably six months ago, seven months ago, you guys was asking me for what reason I am not winning any tournament. So that's the sport and that's the thing, no? So enjoy this moment.
But at the same time, continue with me the same humble like always. You never know what's going on.

Q. When you think back on the last three months, all that you've been able to accomplish, could you just describe the feelings in the last three months and just reflect on that?
RAFAEL NADAL: A lot of important moments passed in the last three, four months, not only three months, no? I won my first tournament in Monte-Carlo. And for me, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Hamburg, those are very important tournaments in my careera, too, no?
So I appreciate these tournaments like another ones, big ones, no? So just was amazing feeling, but I work very hard for try to be ready when that moment is coming, and try to be prepared for everything.

Q. Have you looked at the draw yet, who you might be playing? Have you looked past first round or your section of the draw?
RAFAEL NADAL: I play against Bjorn Phau first round. Never is easy, no? Never easy the first round of one tournament like this and playing against qualifier who is coming with good rhythm, for sure because he win some matches before on the same surface. So going to be a tough match always, and I have to start, try to start strong.

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