R. NADAL/N. Almagro 7‑6, 6‑2, 6‑3

RAFAEL NADAL

Q.  Can we say that today it was a really first good test of the tournament for you because it was interesting match?

RAFAEL NADAL:  The tests are every day, no?  If the No. 14 or 15 of the world is not a test, against Monaco it’s a good test.  At the end, you know, the match wasn’t that difficult.

But before the match was a real test for me, because Monaco arrived to the match playing probably one of the best levels of his career, clay court specialist.  At the end wasn’t the right test, because I won with comfortable result.

No, today, sure, you cannot expect more than a test.  It’s a quarterfinals.  It’s a difficult match.  You play against win of the best players of the world and especially one of the best players of the world in this surface.

Sure, you cannot expect to win an easy match in quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, quarterfinals of Roland Garros.  Was a tough one, but I am through and I am very happy.

Q.  In the third set Almagro was hitting the ball very well.  He was close to the break.  What was your feeling at that moment?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Just try to wait for my moment.  That’s true that I was a little bit ‑‑ he had chances in the third.  He had a few very good moments hitting the ball very hard.  But I had ‑‑ with 1‑0 I had a few deuce; with 3‑2 I had a break point; with the 4‑3 I finally had the break, no.

So I had my chances too.  It’s true that he had a few chances, important ones.  But my serve worked really well, and he had one mistake, one important mistake with the forehand.

He had the control of the point in that moment, but wasn’t very easy to hit that forehand.  He tried to hit, in my opinion, not the right ball.  He had the mistake.

My thoughts in that moment just I am two sets up; wait for my moment; try to play aggressive when I have the chance.  Because was very difficult to play aggressive against a player who, from the first ball, hit the ball that fast, no, and with that power.

I tried when I had the chance, and I played well mentally in the third.  My serve was important, sure.

Q.  Have you watched any part of Djokovic’s and Federer’s matches yesterday?  If yes, what have you been thinking about it?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yes, I watched the first set and second of Federer here.  After, I went back to hotel and on the TV I saw Tsonga and Djokovic, yes.  Federer wasn’t ‑‑ the France, they didn’t show Federer match.

So I saw the Tsonga and Djokovic one, and was a good match to see.  My opinion Tsonga played fantastic for moments.  He was a little bit unlucky, that’s the true.  But in my opinion, he had two mistakes in two match points, important ones.  The first was a passing shot with his backhand.  He hit the ball probably in the worst place to hit, against the forehand volley of the opponent.

So his chances was volley and backhand, not forehand, in my opinion, but is very difficult in that moment, no.  After, he hit the ball to the net with his forehand with another match point.  It probably wasn’t the right ball to hit.  He had to wait a little bit for another one.

But that’s the game.  That’s the sport.  Both players deserve to win.  Djokovic saved a lot, fighted a lot, and he maintained his focus.

So anyone would be the right winner, but finally it was no Novak.  Well done.

Q.  Can you tell the world about David Ferrer?  He’s still playing right now, but what in his game, if you play against him in the semifinal, could possibly annoy you?  Do you think he could annoy you even more than Nicolas?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Nothing new.  We played each other a lot of times.  We played in Barcelona, and I won 7‑6, 7‑6.  His game bothers everybody because he’s one of the best players in the world in every surface, in clay especially.

Everything, he’s a complete player.  It’s very difficult to play against him, because his movements are probably the best of the world, and he’s able to hit the ball very early a lot of the times.

If it’s David, will be a very tough match.  I had a very tough first set in Rome against him.  I had tough first set in Barcelona.  I was able to win, but anything can happen in that set.

But at the end, don’t forget it’s semifinals of Roland Garros.  Against who do you want to play?  You have to play against the best of the world.  The only way to be in the final of a big tournament like this is playing your best tennis.

If I want to be in the final, my only way is play aggressive, play my best tennis.  That’s what I going to try.

Q.  Just to follow up on the match yesterday, Tsonga/Djokovic, obviously Tsonga missed one forehand but Djokovic played very aggressive and bold on the match points.  Do you have some thoughts on what is the source of the ability to do that?  Is it calmness?  Is it experience?  Confidence?  How is a player able to make those shots with so much on the line?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, we can talk a lot about these things, but at the end is a feeling.  You have to be brave to do it in that moments.  But for some reasons, these players who are the best in the world, players who are No. 10, players who are No. 20 and No. 30 and No. 50, No. 100, that’s the real thing.

In the end, let’s talk about not that moment, because that’s at the end of the day, a little bit of lucky, little bit of everything.  It’s like when you talk about the return of Djokovic in semifinals of US Open last year against Federer.  You are brave to do it that, yes, or you are crazy.

So, you know, anything can happen.  It’s a little bit of lucky, little bit of everything, little bit of you are good, you are with confidence.  But yesterday we cannot talk about that moment, you know, personally, no?

Because that’s a limit situation and anything can happen.  He did very well, but the first forehand that he hit against the backhand of the Jo was almost on the line.  So the ball can go out.  That’s the true.

But a player like Novak probably create more chances to save opportunities like this.  Not in match point, but to save tough matches like yesterday that he’s in a trouble situation, difficult one.  He’s fighting.  He put another ball inside the court, and he puts pression all the time on Tsonga.

Probably another kind of player playing against Tsonga, very inspired, playing in front of his crowd and playing very well don’t going to fight that much, no?

But I tell you, that’s question is why he’s No. 1 of the world.  That’s all.

Q.  Rafa, you said that there are major and minor records to beat.  You have seven semifinals like Federer, just you two, plus a third one.  Since I lost a bet once with you, if you know who’s the third one, we can bet on that and I’ll tell you 10 minutes after the press conference.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Sorry.  I don’t know.  Can you repeat?  You are very focused on the records this week and I am not.

Q.  I’m saying just only you and Federer have made seven semifinals at the Roland Garros, plus a third player.  Just asking if you have any idea who could be the third one.  That’s it.  I’ll tell you later.

RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t know, because Borg won six times but I think that he lost against Panatta both.

Q.  This is a question from fans.  We’re moving away from tennis for two seconds.  They know that you are a big fishing fan, and they would like to know the biggest fish you caught, and has it ever been so big that it scared you?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Disappointing, no. No, I am not that good.  I’m an amateur at fishing.  When I go, I go with friends who really knows what to do.  When I am able to have time and holiday and go, I go.

But, you know, the problem with fishing is, one, you have to go early in the morning.  It’s not because I don’t like to go early in the morning.  I love to wake up early and go for fishing, but I practice in the morning.  That’s the thing, no?

My uncle will not be very happy if I tell him that today I going to practice in the afternoon because I go for fishing.  That’s the problem, no?

THE MODERATOR:  Spanish questions.

Q.  Up until now you’ve only lost one set.  You saved a certain number of difficult balls, and I think your confidence is growing.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, in fact you need to face the situation.  It’s true if I’d not lost any set and not lost my serve, it would have been a miracle.  It’s just impossible to achieve that.  You need to face the facts.

In all tournaments where I made it to the quarterfinals or semifinals, when I went deep in the tournament I needed to have a very powerful serve.  Sometimes there are matches when you can turn the match around.

But it’s true that this year my serve works very well, and I managed to turn a match around in Monte‑Carlo or Barcelona or even in Rome.  I lost my serve, but on very few occasions.

So I think you have to be consistent.  But it’s true that I served better during the two last rounds.  During the very first rounds here, my serve was not well adjusted.  I was making mistakes and I was playing from the baseline quite a lot.

Today I managed to score the most difficult points and I had a very good serve.  So when you serve a winner, then it’s perfect.  At the moment everything is fine.

Q.  Rafa, in 2010 we’re talking about your quarterfinals against Almagro.  Did you think about this match before you played him today, or was it a match during which Nicolas played better?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, it was 7‑6, 7‑6, 6‑3 in 2010, so I did not remember that match so much.  But last time he was playing better than me.  During the tiebreak I was very aggressive.  I played well.

The third set was more clear.  But at the beginning of that match he played very well.  His serve was exceptional.  At the end of the third set I was playing much better.  I was moving much better on the court.

The third set was similar to the match we played today.  It was 6‑3.  But this time he hit very hard.  He really went for his shots.  He played very well.

I think at 3‑2 he had a beautiful return.  I made a few mistakes.  I think the one big mistake I made was with my footwork on the court.  Otherwise I played well.  I gave everything I had.  I played well when I had to save a point.

And when I could start attacking, I did.  When I could be aggressive, I was.

Q.  You’ve reached the semifinals, and you know that Djokovic suffered a bit against his opponent.  Would you say it can be helpful to you?  And Federer’s match was long, as well.

RAFAEL NADAL:  No, this won’t have an impact.  They’ll have two days of rest, so everything is fine.  It’s true that against Del Potro it was a very strange match.

Well, I didn’t see the whole match.  I watched the other one.  But after I saw what I saw, I was very much surprised.  6‑2, 6‑Love, Del Potro/Federer, I did not understand exactly what happened during that match.  But with two days’ rest I don’t think they will have any problem.

Q.  You played eight matches against Almagro.  There were five tiebreakers and you won them all.  When you reach a decisive moment, you make the difference.  This is why you have very good statistics.  What would you say about that?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, the answer is yes and no, because matches are not all decided at one very specific time.  I can’t remember all of the results, but if you talk about tiebreakers, let me see.  In Madrid he was leading.  He had a break point.  There were three tiebreakers during the last matches I played here.

Might have been the others were in the US Open or Bercy.  Bercy, yes.  You’re right.  He almost won; 40‑Love when he was serving.  Yes, you’re right.  You’re right.

But the surface is totally different here, and it was at the end of 2009 when I was not in a great shape.  I think these are well deserved semifinals.  Very tight matches were Madrid and Paris.  I was very lucky.

But winning a tiebreaker, you can’t say you can win a tiebreaker with just a few points.  I mean, it was 5‑7, and during the three other matches I won in three sets.  Another one, I can’t remember which, but result was very close.

But sometimes you can lose and set, and then things can be more complicated.  You can lose confidence.  We could talk about it for hours if you’d like.  I was a bit lucky.  The most important is that I managed to get through.

Q.  I wanted to ask you a question about David Ferrer.  He is up 5‑3 in the third set.  You said he deserved more than his result.  What would you say?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I don’t want him to go too far, too deep in the tournament, but of course he deserves a lot.  He’s a great player.

Apart from the fact that we get on very well together, his tennis is impressive.  He is very consistent.  He gets exceptional results.  He is very consistent, and has been for many years.

His season on clay has been great so far, except in Monte‑Carlo when he was a bit tired.  But he also played the Davis Cup; he played Barcelona.  Okay, let’s not talk about his quarterfinals in Madrid and semifinals in Rome.  But each time he played with very beautiful tennis.

He only lost to me in Barcelona and Rome, and the matches were very close.  I think he made it to the quarterfinals in Miami, if I’m not mistaken.  That was against Djokovic.  So he would only lose to the best in the world, and he sometimes wins.

So I would like Ferrer to be able to win not just here, but also in Bercy and other tournaments.  He has already won quite a few tournaments.

To be honest, I don’t hope ‑‑ I’m not hoping he wins here.  I won’t tell you the opposite.

Q.  What about the other semifinal?  Considering Federer and Djokovic’s level, would you say that Djokovic has more chance to win?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I don’t know.  It all depends on how you feel personally.  If Djokovic feels confident at the moment, it has to do with your mental state.

I don’t know who is going to win.  It’s the one who’s going to play best the day after tomorrow.  You can’t analyze this.  These are matches in which the best players in the world are very close.

Who would have said last year that Djokovic and Federer ‑‑ that Federer would win last year?  I mean, this is a sport in which you can’t make any prediction.  It’s just impossible.

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