Five time Monte-Carlo titlist and defending champ Rafael Nadal was asked on Monday if he’s losing his aura of “invincibility” on clay.
Q. Do you think psychologically it’s different now because the players, the other players, think maybe you are beatable on clay, when before they thought you were unbeatable?
RAFAEL NADAL: You can ask them, the rest of the players, not me.
Q. Does it change the mental game with you, as well?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I lost a match, one match, no, in Roland Garros? I lost in Madrid in one final. I won the last, I don’t know, lot of tournaments, no, on clay? I won Davis Cup final. Important match for me, too, against Berdych. I never felt I am invincible in no one surface even on clay. Sure I’m not feeling the same now, no? For me, doesn’t matter what the rest of the players think.
Rafa may not be feeling invincible, but he is looking to get that confidence going. To win the Majors, he says, requires building a stockpile of minor victories.
Q. After last year, what is more important for you this year, to win Roland Garros again or win Wimbledon? What is your main objective?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me the more important thing is the match on Wednesday, first round here. That is for me the most important thing for me, no? I always thought day to day. Doesn’t change, no?
You know, the big victories, you can have a big victories if you have the small victories before. Every year is important for that. Every year I’m practicing, try my best, and in every match I going to do the same. So probably if I don’t have a good result here, in Rome or in Madrid, my chances in Roland Garros or Wimbledon will be for sure less chances than if I have the good results here in these tournaments. So I am thinking about this right now.
Rafa’s match on Wednesday will be vs. Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands. No. 3 seed Andy Murray will also be playing his first singles match of the tournament on Wednesday – a tough one vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Richard Gasquet was in a thoughtful mood after winning his first round match on Monday, getting honest (too honest?) about about the American hard court swing, brains vs. brawn in tennis and if he’d “do it all over again.” Interesting stuff, but not exactly the sentiments of a player ready for a rampage. He sounds more like a phased-out veteran. No wonder he lost to Tomas Berdych 2-6, 0-6 in less than an hour on Tuesday.
Q. This Monte Carlo tournament, is it special for you?
RICHARD GASQUET: Yes, of course. I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be here. Indian Wells and Miami are tournaments that are not that special to me. But here, it’s close to home. It’s a place where I like to win.
When asked about his having two coaches, Gasquet came up with this:
RICHARD GASQUET: You know, in tennis, you don’t need to be very intelligent to play tennis. You just need to practice hard, to have confidence. You don’t need to come from a first league university. Physically you have to go and practice. I need to practice hard, to play match after match. Sometimes I feel not very well physically, and I feel I could be better.
Well if it’s so easy, Richard. . .
Q. If we had Gasquet when he was young, and we would tell him what he would go through, would you have continued?
RICHARD GASQUET: I wouldn’t have changed my life for anything in the world. Even if it wasn’t very hard, I wouldn’t change anything. There are lives harder than a tennis player. We are not working in a factory. There are more difficult things in life. Of course, it’s quite a path. If I had known, maybe I wouldn’t have done it. But, you know, normally one would say it’s easier to win the four Grand Slam tournaments rather than going through what I went through.
Along with Berdych, top seeds Tsonga (d. Almagro), Verdasco (d. Benneteau), and Cilic (d. Andreev) are through to the third round.
Here are a few scenes from one of the most scenic tournaments in the world:
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