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Rafael Nadal Semifinals Press Conference

Indian Wells, CA, USA

March 20, 2010

I. LJUBICIC/R. Nadal

3-6, 6-4, 7-6

An interview with:

RAFAEL NADAL

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Rafa, can we talk about the singles match first?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah.

Q.  What happened in the tiebreak?  It seemed like you were a little passive almost in the tiebreak.
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, I wasn't passive.  That's for sure, no?  I was more nervous than passive, no?  Because I never had to arrive to this tiebreak.  That's my feeling, no?
You know, when you arrive at that tiebreak of the first set with a serve like Ivan, he was serving really well, no?  I know that it's gonna be very dangerous.  The second point of the tiebreak was very important.
You know, it was tough for me be in that situation, because I was playing amazing all the week, playing really, really good, and an important match for me, semifinals.
Anyway, the result is good.  But after coming an injury and, well, everything, everything is positive, because I    probably played at my best level another the time, but today I played bad.  I played bad match.
Anyway, I had lot of chances, break points in the second with one passing shot with backhand on one of the breakpoints with Love 40.  But he serve well, and he played good forehands.  First shot winner, so difficult to do something there.
I played unbelievable terrible game the first of the third set with my serve.  I had more mistakes with my forehand in that game than all the week.
Yeah, after that, you know, in the third, I fighted it all the time, but I only had the breakpoint in the third.  He had amazing serve, so nothing to do there.
Yeah.  That's tennis.  I played bad.  I gonna try to win in Miami.

Q.  As you said, you played very good tennis this week, the first tournament back since the Australian Open.
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah.

Q.  How do you assess your game now?  And can we assess it before you return to clay, or no?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Can we?

Q.  How good is your level now?  Can we say you are back to your best, or do we need to wait until you are back on clay before we can say that?
RAFAEL NADAL:  You know, I never went, but since I start 2010 I was playing at my best.  I was playing at my best all the time.
You know, in hardcourts I won when I came with big confidence, when I play    when I was playing unbelievable.  But in this year, during this year, I play at all the tournaments really well.
Just in Australia the first two matches I didn't play like my best, but against Murray I was playing fine.  This tournament I was playing very good, having very good victories, beating against very difficult opponent like Isner, later like Berdych and with    against a very good Berdych.
So I happy about how I did.  I am playing at my best level.  I know that.  But not today.

Q.  Don't you think that the last thing there is still missing in your game is the ability to kill a match?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Probably, probably.  You know, that's    yeah.  Probably that's happening a little bit more than before, but probably because I have a hard time, no?  That's because probably eight months difficult, eight months in my life.  This is a process, and I have to keep going slowly better and better.
I am ready, because I did well.  I win against Berdych by playing a good tiebreak, so that's always important.  Against Isner, I save important moments too, so I did well.
And today not, but I had a lot of chances too, no?  The normal thing is win this match.

Q.  In the meantime, you are thinking too much at what is happening?  You think too much than before?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  You know, is not the moment to speak about that, because, you know, I have another tournament in Miami in a week.  I am feeling playing enough well to do something important there, no?
The mental thing, I gonna do it well.  I always was a winner.  I was a very good competitor, and I gonna    I gonna be very good competitor and winner another time, no?
That's was an accident today.  That's my feeling, because I was playing enough well to win the tournament.  It was important accident, and I have to learn to try to play more aggressive next time and try to, yeah, to convert the opportunities.
But for the rest, nothing to say, no?  I am happy how I did, you know, after the stop being at home a few weeks and not easy come back and play with this level, no?  Because I was feeling I was playing better than probably closer to than ever on this court.

Q.  So after you missed the forehand volley, second point of the tiebreaker...
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, I didn't miss the    the mistake was the forehand and the volley backhand.

Q.  But then after that you lose five points.  Was it all nerves there, or...
RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, you know, he played a good backhand winner.  He started to play the plays with the wind.  You know, and with the 6 1, I was destroyed mentally at that moment, no?  Because I lost an opportunity, no?
Before that, he did well in the tiebreak.  And when you arrive at tiebreak, I said before again, one server, big server like Ljubicic, is difficult to predict what's gonna happen.  The second point was very important.

Q.  This week you played very well with your forehand, very aggressive.
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah.

Q.  Maybe the last year you try to improve a lot your backhand, your volley.  Maybe you want to use mainly your forehand, your biggest weapon now.
RAFAEL NADAL:  You know, when I am playing well is because I am playing well with the forehand and I have the control of the point with the forehand.  That's what I'm doing now, and I'm doing really well.
So I have to keep working on this.  Sure, probably the worst thing of this week was the backhand.  I can improve for the next week, but I have few days to practice the backhand to win, to go to Miami with playing better with the backhand.  And that's it.
If I improve a little bit the level of the backhand, I am very ready for everything, I think.

Q.  He did say, Ljubicic, that he thought the important thing, other than serving, was that he stayed with you in the rallies.  Did you feel like he was staying with you?
RAFAEL NADAL:  The day was very difficult, you know, and probably that's help him from the baseline, no?  Because the wind, the ball was moving a lot.  I was playing really well, and, you know, when you have    when there is a big wind like today, important wind, is easier for the player that plays a little bit worse from the baseline, because it's a different situations.
With the slice, with normal shots, with not very good shots, the ball is there and for the player who is playing aggressive.  Is more difficult to put the balls closer to the lines.  Probably that was important part of the game today, no, what makes him easier to play with me from the baseline.
Because if not, I think will be more difficult for him to play with me.  I gonna have more chances to have the control of the point with the forehand and move him.
But, you know, no, the wind is the wind.  I play well with the wind too, no?  So that's not an excuse, no?  That's common.  The wind always is in favor of the player    the strange situations is favoring the player who play worse from the baseline, I think.

Q.  Do you remember last time you lost seven points in a row in a tiebreaker?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, I lost against Blake in Shanghai 2000  

Q.  Masters Cup?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah.  I don't know, 2006 maybe.          

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