An interview with... Rafael Nadal
Q. How does it feel to get the first one over with, Rafa?
RAFAEL NADAL: Good. I think I played after the first game that was not good, I played a solid first set. I start first six games of the second I didn't play well, and he had a terrible game with the 3 All, a lot of mistakes. After that I think I started to play a little bit better again.
So in the third I finished the match playing not that good, so it was a solid start, happy for that.
Q. Difficult conditions sitting in the locker room wondering if it's going to rain or stop? How did you handle that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Mentally it's a bit always these days tired I really thought I would not play today during the day, so it makes the mentality doesn't stay at 100% all the time.
And then the tension is there, and the motivation to play here always is very high. So you are ready.
Q. I know we don't know who your next opponent is, but can you just talk about Mathieu or Dominic Thiem?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know very well Mathieu. Anyway he's losing two sets to love, and Thiem I heard very, very good things about him. I didn't see him play, but I know he's a young player and he's a very dangerous opponent.
Always the same: To win against anyone I need to play at a good level and I need to be ready for fight and for everything that I will need to do to win.
And with that I can see I need to be aggressive and need to find a rhythm on the legs and play solid points, find real ways to win the points. That's it.
Q. Last year the first couple of rounds for you were a bit tricky. Are you feeling kind of relieved or confident this time your first round was not like...
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. Doesn't matter, no? In the end it's day by day not it's difficult to compare years, difficult to compare opponents.
Important thing is go on court, try your best every day, and try to improve a little bit in every practice day and every match day, and that's what they did a lot of times during this tournament. That's why I had that success, and I gonna try to do it this year.
I think I started a little bit better than last year, but still last year I arrived with a lot of victories on my shoulders, this year with a little bit less.
We'll see. Important thing is that I am in second round. I won the first one. I have two days for practice, to keep doing the right things and to arrive on the second round hopefully ready to play well.
Q. This is not strictly related to Roland Garros, but how would you describe your relationship with your racquet?
RAFAEL NADAL: With my racquet?
Q. Yes. How do you feel with it? And what does it represent with you?
RAFAEL NADAL: I know my racquet since a long time (smiling). No, that's the best thing that I can say about my racquet is for some reason I am playing with this one.
It's because I feel the racquet give me what I need for my game and is long, long time ago that I am playing with Babolat, since the age of 10 or 11, I don't remember. Always Babolat did the best possible for me, trying to help me in what I really need.
I think is great to be part of a great company of Babolat and a great company in the world of tennis. I have a great relationship with them, and that makes the things a little bit easier.
Q. Some people were a bit surprised that you were scheduled on Suzanne Lenglen today. I was wondering if it made any difference to you. Were you expecting to play on Chatrier, or you didn't really care?
RAFAEL NADAL: Doesn't really matter a lot. Always playing Roland Garros is a pleasure for me, is a really honor, and is a special feeling. So all the memories at this place give me are unforgettable.
And doesn't matter if it's Chatrier or Lenglen or another court, be around here in Roland Garros always gonna be great. And I started in Lenglen this year, is a great court.
I am not sure, but probably next one I gonna play in Chatrier. That's it.
Q. You did come to the net a few times today like when I was watching match. Do you feel that consciously do you need to go more to the net specifically against tough opponents in the later rounds, maybe Almagro, Ferrer, and Djokovic perhaps?
RAFAEL NADAL: My opponent is Thiem or Mathieu. It doesn't matter what's going on later. Important thing is get ready for the next round, no?
If you go to the net, it's because you have the good position on court, because you are hitting the ball well and you have the advantage on the point. That's the only way to go to the net.
So is not if you go to the net you will, you know, the thing is you need to go to the net against tougher opponents. That's not the thing. The thing is if you go to the net it's because you are playing well.
You need to go to the net, yes. But if you're not going to the net is because you are not playing enough well.