Rafael Nadal had some interesting things to say after losing to Roger Federer in the final of the Madrid Open on Sunday. Here’s a short courtside interview.
He elaborated in Marca (my so-so translation from Spanish).
On his hopes to play Federer at Roland Garros:
“In Paris, we’ll see who makes it to the end. . .Federer has the potential to win in Paris, to win anywhere. He is a favorite there, but the tournament begins not with the final but with the first round. I hope to play with him in the Paris finals. If you give me a paper now, I’d sign it.”
“I normally do not make excuses. If I’m tired, it’s because I used more time in the semifinal than he did. It stinks to play four hours yesterday, yes. That can’t be denied. But the reality is that he played better than me.“
Rafael Nadal made sure to point out that the fast court and altitude favored Federer’s game, and that this loss wasn’t going to effect his chances at Roland Garros:
“My feeling is that this tournament has nothing to do with Paris. I’m not saying that I will play better in Paris, but this surface is completely different from Roland Garros.”
Not that he doesn’t love the Madrid Open tournament (he’s just offering some constructive criticism):
“The best thing has been the special atmosphere. Spectacular people, which has encouraged a lot. It’s great for tennis. The center court is spectacular. To improve, the facility needs a larger locker room for all the players and especially (more) practice courts which have been bad. In all other respects, this is a tournament with huge potential. It’s only short history and tradition.“
I think Rafa’s right about the significance of this match (to him, anyway) – a best out of three match at the Madrid Open is not the finals of Roland Garros. He’s still the favorite in Paris. I wonder if the serially-humble Spaniard will finally come out and admit it!