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January 17, 2009

Rafael Nadal


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Have you had enough matches to properly prepare yourself for the Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: You never know, no? Hopefully yes. But, you know, I was for two months outside of competition, so maybe I need a little bit more matches for get the rhythm, no?
But I am okay, no? I think I am okay. I will try my best for be ready for Tuesday. Just try my best every match and expect find my best performance.

Q. You've had such great success at the French obviously and Wimbledon. Do you look at the Australian Open as a big target for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, for sure every tournament - when I am playing - every one is important for me, no? If we are talking about one Grand Slam, like Australian Open, is very, very important for me.
So I think the conditions here are not bad. But at the same time the tournament is very early in January. Well, seems like you arrive here without know exactly how you are, no? You only have one week before, the one tournament before. If you win the tournament, you know you are playing well. If not, you arrive here, Well, I am okay, I am practicing well, but I don't have a lot of matches for know exactly how I am, no?
That I think is for everybody.

Q. How are your knees?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I am fine. Thank you.

Q. I'm from Belgium. What can you tell us about Christophe Rochus? Do you know anything about him?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know more his brother, yeah. But I saw him play a lot of times.

Q. In Doha?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I didn't saw him in Doha. But I saw him a lot of times. Like his brother, he's a talented player. So he's a complete player, and I have to -- if I want to win, I have to, I think, put my rhythm and play with more rhythm than him.

Q. What do you know exactly about Belgian tennis, other players?

Q. Did you watch Kim and Justine?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, sure, I remember Kim and Justine, no? Well, they was best players of the world in female. Well, in guys you have Vliegen, and now Olivier and Christophe. You have good tennis.

Q. You've talked about the lack of matches in the buildup to the Australian Open. Are you, like Federer, you'd like to see it moved to February?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is a very good option, yeah. I would love have the first Grand Slam of the season a little bit later, yeah.

Q. Do you think that's a majority view of the players? Do you think a lot of the players would like to play this tournament a little bit later?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can't talk for rest of the players, but I think, yes. I think so. I think the feeling for everybody is the same: you start the season and after one week you are playing one of the most important tournaments of the season.
But this was like this for a long time. If this can change, I think gonna be perfect for us. If not, we continuing fight like this.

Q. You practiced with him this morning. How do you see the threats of Andy Murray?
RAFAEL NADAL: He's playing well, no? He's playing good tennis, with confidence. He started the season very well, winning in Doha. He finish the 2008 season playing well, the last four months of the year. So, well, for sure if he play well, he can win here.
But right now everybody start from the first round here and everything going to be difficult for everybody, no?

Q. Did you expect to see his improvement over the last nine months? Were you surprised by the way he's suddenly burst through?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I not surprised, no. He is a very talented player. He's a very good player. No, didn't surprise me.

Q. Do you think he needs to prove himself on the big stage, at a Grand Slam?
RAFAEL NADAL: Who, Murray?

Q. Yes.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, when you win Cincinnati, when you win Madrid, when you win Doha playing against Federer, playing against Roddick, you are ready for win a Grand Slam, no? I feel that when I went to the French Open for first time and I won. So if you win the top guys in the tournaments, players, you are ready.
Later win. You never know.

Q. Roger told us that the chairman of the ATP has visited you, him and Djokovic, spoke to you about new things in the ATP. Did you have any suggestions? Did you want any particular changes in the ATP system?
RAFAEL NADAL: For sure, I have some ideas, but I don't want to talk about this before I speak with the rest of the players. Sorry.

Q. You've been the chaser the last three years behind Roger. Now you are the person that people are going to chase. Does that change anything in your approach, how you look at it?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, probably in three months I asked this question 100 times (smiling). For me, one number doesn't change nothing, no? I was very happy be No. 2. I am very happy, for sure, be No. 1. But every year when I was No. 2, right now I start the season No. 1, every year the season start from zero from everybody, no? That's my feeling. Start the new season, my goal is still the same like before.
I don't know, later you gonna ask me if the pression is different. For me, no, the pression is the same because the goals is still the same. I try to improve my tennis because I still very young. I only have 22. Try to continue be in the top positions and try to continuing win tournaments. That's the three goals.
I have the same goals three years ago, two years ago, one year ago. So doesn't change. Nothing change in my mind. Well, right now for sure was important finish the season with the No. 1 ranking after three years being the No. 2. I am very happy for that. If this give me something, is more calm than more pression, no?

Q. Who do you think is going to be the favorite of the tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know (laughter). Right now, 128 players are there. For sure one group is more favorite than the rest. But I think more than one, two or three can win the tournament.

End of FastScripts

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