Nadal Talkative, Appreciative After Latest Career Milestone

WASHINGTON/PARIS, November 5, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Not long after Rafael Nadal beat his friend and fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, which rewarded him with his 1,000th career singles victory Wednesday evening during the Rolex Paris Masters, the World No. 2 sat down for a very well attended virtual press conference inside AccorHotels Arena. Nadal was in a talkative and reflective mood following his 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 triumph in the Bercy neighborhood of Paris.

The 34-year-old Nadal answered questions in English about his performance against Lopez, 39, about what reaching the milestone of 1,000 wins meant, and also what he was thankful for during these difficult, pandemic times.

“Well, a tough start, no?,”stated Nadal. “Against a player (Lopez) that is a great player on this surface. He had a lot of great results and who knows me very well. And for me the first match on hard court is a long time, especially indoors.

“So, I started the match the worst way possible, especially against a big server like Feli. After that I played under a lot of pressure the rest of the match, but I found a way. That’s the main thing honestly, no? First round to win and I hope to be ready to play better tomorrow.

“This victory is one that I am very proud. The personal satisfaction sometimes is bigger when you win these kinds of matches than if you go on court and you win 6-3, 6-3.”

Soon, Tennis TourTalk was called upon by the interview moderator and Nadal was asked about the significance of achieving 1,000 career victories as well as what continues to motivate him to excel on the court.

“Well, that means that I am old!” he said, smiling.

“That means that I played well for such a very long time, because to achieve that number is because I have been playing well for a lot of years and is something that makes me feel happy, no? I just can say thank you very much to all the people that helped me and all the people that in any moment of my life helped me to be where I am, no?

“So, yeah, just is have been a special moment. I know is a very special number, 1,000. Even if it’s not the same to celebrate something like this without a crowd, I enjoy it with ATP, with the president of the French Federation, Guy Forget, supervisor and the ball boys.

“I enjoy it and just can say thanks to all of them to make this moment a little bit more special.”

When Nadal was asked about what his career longevity means to him, he answered:

“Well, I am proud about a lot of things in my career, no? But of course, I faced issues in terms of injuries during different parts of my career.

“I always hold the passion and the love for keep doing what I do. That is play tennis, no?

“So, of course, is something that I’m proud to even after achieved a lot of things in some of that moments I was able to keep being hungry to keep going and be enough humble to accept the challenges, to accept that in some moments things were not going the way that I expected.

“I always had great help with great people around me and great family. So, yeah, without them, of course, would be impossible.”

The final question Nadal was asked in English before the interview switched to questions and answers in Spanish was a simple but profound one: What has he been thankful for in 2020? He gave the question a lot of thought before answering it. He said:

“Have been a very challenging year and sad year I think for everyone, no? A lot of people lost members of the family. Is a tough year, honestly, no? I thank God people next to me still healthy. But the world is suffering, and of course the only thing that we can do is try to be responsible, as I said a lot of times, and expect a medicine to finally go over the virus, no? 

“To win against the virus. Hopefully 2021 will be the year and hopefully sooner than later.”

Midnight Q & A with Stan Wawrinka

It was literally midnight in Paris and No. 12 seed Stan Wawrinka had just walked off Court Central at AccorHotels Arena and into the interview room. He was still wearing his match kit. After answering a question about his just completed second-round victory over American Tommy Paul that went three sets and lasted two hours and 21 minutes, Tennis TourTalk asked the three-time Grand Slam champion his thoughts about his upcoming match on Thursday evening against No.5 seed Andrey Rublev, who just happens to be the hottest player in men’s tennis, with five ATP Tour singles titles this year, including three consecutive ATP 500 series titles (Hamburg, St Petersburg, Vienna).

It’s going to be [an] interesting match,” Wawrinka said. “Last time we play he beat me in Cincinnati.” Indeed, back in August 2019, Rublev defeated Wawrinka, 6-4, 6-4, at the Western & Southern Open. Wawrinka hit 11 aces and won 88 percent of his first-serve points. Rublev was just a little better, winning six of six close games while breaking Wawrinka’s serve twice in two tries while not being broken himself.

He’s playing so well this year,” Wawrinka continued. “He’s winning so many matches, so many tournaments. He’s full confidence. He’s one of the best players this year. So it’s going to be interesting to see my level against him. It’s going to be tough match, that’s for sure.”

Diego Schwartzman: In a good state of mind

World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, the sixth seed this week at the Rolex Paris Masters, knew when he took Court Central for his second-round match against No. 56 Richard Gasquet from France on Wednesday that he controlled his own destiny for the eighth and final position in the Nitto ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London later this month. That’s because his nearest competitor, Matteo Berrettini, suffered a three-set defeat the night before that knocked him out of contention. Schwartzman entered with 3,365 points while Berrettini had 3,075.

For Schwartzman to earn a berth in London, he can achieve it outright by reaching at least the semifinals this week at the Rolex Paris Masters, or if Pablo Carreño Busta, Milos Raonic or Stan Wawrinka doesn’t win the Paris title. Schwartzman could face Raonic in the semifinals and could only meet Carreño Busta or Wawrinka in the final.

When Tennis TourTalk asked Schwartzman how he felt about his chances to qualify as well as what it meant to achieve a lofty goal such as that, the diminutive Argentine beamed a positive response. He said:

“I’m feeling great because of my chances, because I have the chances in my hand, and, yes, obviously I’m expecting a few matches from opponents to qualify to London, but I have in my hand the opportunity to qualify. 

“So, I’m try to do my best, and I’m feeling really, really well this week and the weeks before. After Rome, I got a lot of confidence and I’m playing very good tennis. So, I want to be in London, and I hope to be there.”

Click here for Wednesday’s results