Spanish paper Marca published a lengthy interview with Rafael Nadal on Tuesday, wherein the Spaniard discusses his return to Montreal (he travels to Canada on Wednesday), his plans for the rest of the season (he’s busy) and, of course, his rival and the “best in history,” Roger Federer. (Click here for the original – below is my Google translation.)
Nadal tells Marca: “I do not know if I am 100% better, I hope so, but no one realizes until one is in competition.”
“I wanted to be sure,” Nadal said of his decision to play in Montreal, “I’ve trained for four days with little pain, I feel confident running and now is the time to try.”
And Nadal is giving himself plenty of chances to try for the rest of the season. He says if his knees hold up, he will make few changes to his busy playing schedule.
“Davis Cup is always on my calendar.” Nadal says of Spain’s home semifinal against Israel this September. Rafa also lists the following tournaments as on his schedule: “Montreal, Cincinnati, U.S. Open, Davis Cup, if I’m called upon and have no setbacks, then Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and London.”
He keeps hopes modest when it comes to completing his career Slam at the US Open this year:
I do not know. It depends on different things. How the two previous tournaments go, how my knees respond, that all depends on whether I reach the U.S. Open with the confidence to say, look, I’m ready. If I see that I had doubts in Montreal and Cincinnati, it will be more difficult. I could make the semis and quarter finals in both tournaments and have bad feelings, or make the second and third round and be more prepared.
Nadal says that he is not worried about possibly falling to No. 3 in the world by the US Open, and is happy to count his copious blessings:
I’m fine where I am and happy for everything that has happened to me, despite my injuries. I am aware that I have 23 years of a happy life and sport and I will be back to work. . .My goal is not to think of the number 1 or 2. My goal is to feel happy and playing competitively and continuing to win big tournaments.
When asked if Roger Federer benefited by his absence the past couple months, Rafa takes the high road: “Federer is where he deserves to be. Numbers tell and that is the reality.”
Nadal says that Roger is a definite candidate for the GOAT: “(Federer) is the best in the history that I’ve lived, that’s for sure,” but that Rod Laver’s accomplishments can’t be overlooked. “One must wait for Federer to finish his career to know.“
“I was happy for him (Federer) because I think he deserved it.” Nadal said of Roger’s win at Roland Garros, though he admitted to playing golf during the final. He has not yet watched the tape of his Roland Garros defeat to Robin Soderling, for obvious reasons:
It was one of the few times that I have not had control of the situation at any time. It was painful, of course. For everything, everything that was happening. Not only for the defeat at Roland Garros, which I would not always win, but for the moment, because I had knee problems for quite some time, had a season emotionally a little hard and when all things come together and the blow fell in my dream tournament – then comes the slump.
When asked if he thinks he can reach Federer’s major total of 15, Nadal is doubtful, saying he is still has a ways to go just to make it to double digits:
“I’m not saying it can’t be achieved (winning 10 majors) but I have always gone step by step. Both in my life and my career. I think in the morning, am I going to train and train well?“
Step by step, match by match, victory by victory, it will be interesting to watch Rafa’s return to glory.