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March 14, 2012
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
R. NADAL/A. Dolgopolov
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions, please.
Q.Â He seems to be a very tricky player for some to play, but you seem to do what you want to do with him, more or less.
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Yeah, the match started the perfect way for me, with a break, so that give me confidence.Â I felt confident with my serve during all the first set.Â Just in the last set I had trouble, 15‑40.
But you cannot, you know, predict nothing with this kind of match, no?Â He can hit winners from every place.Â At the same time he can have mistakes from every place, too.
So I think he had more mistakes than usual at the beginning, and especially when I had the break at the second set ‑‑ 2‑1 to 5‑1 was in minutes, no?Â He had lot of mistakes.
I did what I had to do, in my opinion.Â I'm pretty happy about my game.Â So I'm through.Â I'm in quarterfinals playing well, so that's most important thing.
Q.Â Can you talk about your memories of playing Nalbandian here?Â I think it was three years ago you fought off five match points, and now you'll have him again.
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Yeah, it was amazing match.Â I remember I was so lucky in the match.Â That's the true, no?
But always Nalbandian is a very tough player to play against with unbelievable talent.Â And he will have a day off tomorrow, so that give him a lot, my opinion.
He's this kind of player that when he's playing well he's the best players of the world.Â So gonna be a really, really difficult match for me, and I have to be ready for everything.
Q.Â As the competition gets harder for you as the draw goes on, in some ways is it tougher for you to still be in doubles?Â So you wishthat you had ‑‑ not that you entered doubles without the intention of winning, but...
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Well, you have tough matches, yes.Â If I play like today ‑ I did one hour, something, I don't know, but one hour and short more ‑ is okay.Â Not a problem.
In these kind of tournaments when you have a day off is not a problem.Â Because if I am winning today I gonna play doubles tomorrow.Â So I take like a practice, is better than a practice.Â You can compete.
In these kind of tournaments it's really not a problem.Â It's a pleasure play doubles for me here.Â I think the atmosphere here in this stadium too is fantastic for doubles.
Q.Â You have been around playing Roger for so many many, many years.Â You've also seen him a lot off the court.Â What have you learned the most tennis‑wise from Federer?Â What have you learned off the court also from him, from Roger?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â We have completely different characters, so from off the court I have my character is important to look around and learn from everybody.
But I can't tell you something specific about what I learn about Roger because I have my character.
I believe I learned a lot about ‑‑ much more about my the people who are close to me, no?Â About my family, about my friends, you know, about my team, more than Roger, no?
In the end, Roger‑‑ I saw Roger on the tournaments.Â I cannot learn a lot about him because I have not in touch with him every day.Â In my opinion, to learn things, you have to be in touch probably every day to have a clear example about.
But from the court I think Roger, what he did better in all his career is he improved his game during all his career, no?Â I think he was better player in 2008 than in 2004, and that's something difficult, because, you know.Â When you are in the top sometimes it's not easy to keep improving your level, no?Â Keep playing better and better and improving your shots, improving his backhand.
That's something that I always try to do, and it's good to have an example like him in the front.
Q.Â He improved his backhand; what other thing has Roger really improved over these years, would you say?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â I believe he's serving better than in 2004.Â I believe his backhand is much better than in 2004/2003.
His forehand always was unbelievable, no?Â Probably the position the court is better, and he's playing more solid with less mistakes.
So he did a lot of things better, my opinion.
Q.Â When you play fellow Spanish players, do you have the opinion that they are nervous about playing you, that they may not achieve their best level against you?Â Or do you think they try even harder to beat you than they might other players?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â First thing, you can ask them not me, no?
But I believe that's a competition, and the Spanish player and other players the same like the players from other countries.Â They want to win the match not because I'm Spanish or not Spanish.
They want to win the match because at the ends that's a tennis tournament and everybody wants to win, no?
I believe nothing change playing against a Spanish player or not, because that's happened hundreds of times, no?Â Today I had confrontations against the rest of Spanish players, I don't know how many, but a lot.
So is nothing new for us and nothing new for me and nothing new for them.Â That's my feeling, no?Â Sometimes you have better days, worse days for them, for me.Â That's all.Â But nothing ‑‑ in my opinion, they are not trying harder to beat me because they are Spanish and they are not afraid or more nervous to beat me because they are Spanish.Â That's the answer.
Q.Â Can you comment on today's match against Alex, your thoughts, your feelings on how you played and how the match went?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â I did well.Â I believe I played a solid match without mistakes.Â So, you know, for moments he's doing everything.Â He's playing the winners, he's having the mistakes, so you are there like trying to put him in a difficult position to hit the winner.Â But you cannot do much, a lot of times, no?
So I just tried to play well the points that I had the chance to play.Â In my opinion, I did, and in other times I did‑‑ I played good shot and he answered with a winner or I played bad shot and he answered with a big mistake.
It's not an easy match to analyze, but winning 6‑3, 6‑2 against a player who is No. 20 of the world is a fantastic result.
Q.Â You played Djokovic three times at Roland Garros:Â 2006, 2007, 2008.Â He didn't win one set against you.Â It's a little bit ahead, but if you were to meet him in Paris, would you expect a much different kind of match?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Seriously, I have enough work thinking about the Nalbandian match.Â I don't expect winning straight sets in the third round, so I not gonna expect a win against Djokovic in three sets, especially when he beat me in, I don't know, seven times in a row.Â That's the real thing today.
Q.Â When you play with that much tape on your fingers, can you feel the ball or not?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â It's fine, because today I cannot feel the ball without the tapes.
Q.Â Because why?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Because I played for the last three years with that tapes, so if I pull off the tapes, I am in trouble, no?
Q.Â Because of blisters?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Yeah, my skin is a little bit sensitive, and when the weather change‑‑ you know, I arrive here, the weather is very dry.Â I went to Miami, the weather is very humid.Â There in Mallorca was very cold.
All of the changes produce me problems in the hands, and this, this, this, and this, are the places where I always have the problems.Â Before I tried to put the tape when I had the problem.Â When the problem goes, take it out, but every time the problems was back.
Because when I changed the play, when I changed the weather conditions, the problem was back another time.Â So I got tired about having the problem, because it's very boring.Â Is very‑‑ you know, not very boring.Â My English.Â (Smiling) is much better, but still some problems.
No, it's bothering me a lot.Â When you have a real blister in your hand is a problem to play a match, no?Â We decided to play with the tapes in that places for every time.Â That's helps a lot, because the last few years I did not have problems with my blisters.
Q.Â Tennis is such a grind, so difficult.Â Aside from taking time off, how do you keep a fresh mentality?Â How do you keep fresh on the circuit?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â Sometimes I am not.Â (Smiling.)
That's the true, no?Â But at the end, you know, I am a competitor.Â I love the competition.Â I love the tennis.Â So the only negative thing in all of this is I don't want to go from this tour at the age of 27 or the age of 28.Â I believe nobody wants to do it.
To avoid that, I have to take care.Â That's the true, no?Â Year by year I have to take a little bit more care about my body.Â I have to prepare very well my schedule.Â I have to analyze where I have to play, where I don't have to play.
But that's a natural thing.Â But that's true our calendar makes that decisions very difficult, so that's‑‑ seriously, that's the only thing that I can say, I have to say I am not happy about the ATP.
You are free to play where you want to play, but the calendar put you in a position that if you want to be in the top positions, you have to play almost obligatory since 1st of January to very late November.
So that's the only thing that I am not happy about the ATP.
Q.Â In the past you have golfed here as a way to relax.Â Have you been able to do that on this trip?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â I did.
Q.Â Any interesting golf stories?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â I don't know if it's interesting, but I played a lot of days, yeah.Â I will play tomorrow, yeah.Â I have the day off tomorrow.Â Sure.Â Why not?Â I enjoy playing golf.Â It's not a risky sport.
You know, when you are‑‑ I believe during the years I improved a lot to know how to relax a little bit more before I‑‑ I remember in 2003/2004 when I arrived to the tour and I spent a lot of hours on the club.Â I was all day there watching tennis.
You know, now I am able to relax a bit more, to enjoy a bit more the things during the tournament.Â So that's, you know, bring me a different view of everything.Â I am really happy about how I learned to enjoy during the tennis tournament.
Q.Â Do you care what your handicap is?Â Does it matter to you or do you use golf to relax?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â I don't understand the sport without trying my best.Â That's the true.
Even if I gonna play friendly match with my friends, soccer match there in my village, I will try to win because‑‑ and I try not to win, I will try to do my best.
For me, if you are not trying that, the sport is that, in my opinion.Â So if you're not trying that, for me the sport is boring.Â That's the true.Â If I go to play golf and I don't try my best, I stay on the range hitting balls.Â That's the true.
If I go to play football match, I will try my best to win because I understand is the only way to enjoy the match.Â That's what I understand.Â My handicap today is 6.Â I don't want to improve that handicap today, because playing just when you are at home or playing just now here is the only time of the year, only tournament that I am able to play ‑ here and Miami little bit‑ you will not improve this handicap.
With this handicap I enjoy a lot.Â Probably when I finish my career I will have more time to have a lower handicap.Â But that's something that is not‑‑ I go and I try my best, and that's it.Â I usually play more or less 6, 5, 7.
Q.Â This tournament has a very special owner, Mr.Ellison.Â I think you have had some contacts with him.Â What are your thoughts about Larry Ellison?
RAFAEL NADAL:Â My thoughts, first thing, I had the honor to meet him.Â He's, in my opinion, a fantastic person.Â I admire a lot him, about what he did in his life.
But today the tennis family, the only thing that we can do is say thank you to Mr.Larry Ellison, because it's very important to have an owner like him, you know, investing in tennis.
So that's something fantastic for the tennis world, in my opinion.Â And personally I met him.Â He was always really nice with me, and I just can say thank you very much to him about what he did for me every time I come here, because the organization and Larry Ellison probably makes this tournament for me very, very top of the year.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports