Since arriving in Madrid, Rafa Nadal has been preparing for his assault on a sixth Mutua Madrid Open crown. The favourite in the Caja Mágica, a five-time champion, spoke to the press on Media Day, where he discussed his form, how important Madrid is on his schedule and, above all, the excitement of playing with fans in the stands.
How has his training been here this week?
“I’ve trained well. In fact, I did a double training session on Friday, yesterday, and I may do a double session today. That means I’ve trained more than three hours and three hours. I feel good, excited to be here in Madrid. Back in a situation of strict isolation, but with a huge difference; we have fans and that helps you cope with everything else in terms of energy”.
There’s no place like home
“Playing at home is always wonderful. We’re talking about one of the most important tournaments of the year, it’s a Masters 1000, therefore, honestly, the tournament could have been anywhere else and I guess I would be competing this week. It will be my fourth event of the year and my schedule is clear. All things being well, we’ll do as planned, which is Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.
Time to put his foot down
“I haven’t played much over the last year, I said so in Monte Carlo, it’s time to push, to work hard over the next three months. I’m very focused on that. Everyone knows that playing at home means a lot to me and I hope to be ready to enjoy as many days as possible with the fans here in Madrid”.
How would he like to feel at the end of the week in Madrid?
“What I’d like to do is win, basically. If I win it’ll mean that I’ve done a lot of things right but if we’re talking about specifics, I think Barcelona was a step in the right direction for me, so what I think I’d like to feel is that I’m playing well”.
His form at this point of the season
“An athlete is sustained by training and results, that’s the reality. I need to feel that I’m playing well, that I’m playing matches, that I’m competitive against everyone and that’s what has happened since my return to competition”.
“My competitiveness in Barcelona was excellent, my game was more or less there and in the end it’s the same as ever. I felt very good training before Monte Carlo, I think I was in great form, but then, when you don’t play much for a while, the day may come when your form is not as good and it is more difficult for things to become automatic”.
“When you’ve been playing a lot, there are always days that are worse, but when you’ve been playing a lot, you’ve won matches and you have that bad day, it’s easier to find the solutions because they come automatically. When you haven’t played much, the solutions are more difficult to find and maybe that’s what happened to me in Monte Carlo. In Barcelona I played more difficult matches, I felt pressure situations again… I think I’ve done the right thing up to this point”.
Still excited to achieve more
“Every week is a different story and the only thing I can do is keep working with the excitement, attitude and intensity that I am and give myself the chance to keep progressing with a positive attitude in order to keep achieving goals”.
What does he miss about the Rafa Nadal of 2005?
“I miss being young. The years have taken their toll, which I don’t like. I think I’ve always been pretty consistent, accepting every moment of my life and my career. There are times and moments that are for enjoying some things and having certain experiences and others for having others”.
“Nostalgia? No, honestly I’m happy with the great memories of the various stages of my career. Of course, in 2005 everything was new, it was a feeling of experiencing new sensations and emotions every week and now when you’ve been on tour for so many years, those feelings are different, you value it differently, although no less intensely. I’m not hugely nostalgic, I’m happy at this point to be doing what I do with my life. If I look back, all the things that have happened to me have been good and I am thankful for that. I think that my sporting career so far has been better than I could have dreamt and let’s hope I can keep enjoying what I do for as long as possible”.