Newsflash: Nadal Says He Was Not Born On Clay
“It’s not true that I was born on clay,” Nadal said, eliciting laughter in the press room.
With that being said, the 10-time champion was not completely joking.
“Everybody thought I practised on clay all my life, and it’s not true. I practiced a lot on hard court when I was a kid. I practised on clay, too, but a lot on hard,” Nadal said. “During all my career, my game adapted very well to this surface and I've had amazing success. Honestly, I had success on all the surfaces and I worked hard to be the best player possible on all the surfaces.”
In fact, Nadal has won 22 tour-level titles on hard courts and grass courts combined. Only four other active players have lifted more than 22 trophies on all surfaces.
But with that being said, Nadal has certainly made his mark on the red dirt. The 32-year-old’s 12 Roland Garros quarter-finals are tied with Novak Djokovic for the most in the tournament’s history. And Nadal’s list of records on the surface are seemingly endless: 10 Coupes des Mousquetaires, 11 triumphs in Monte-Carlo, 11 titles in Barcelona, and much more.
But Nadal is not focused on those victories, or more history that he might write in the future. All that concerns the Spaniard is the present.
“My big test is every day. Today was an important test. I am in the quarter-finals. And the biggest test now is the next round,” Nadal said. “I go day by day, and I am not worried about if I had a test or if I didn't have a test. I just worry about trying to be at my 100 per cent for the next day that I have to play. That's my goal.
“I know if I make that happen, if I'm able to play with my highest intensity and with the right level, it will be always a tough match, but I really believe that I can have my chances to keep going.”
Nadal is the only player remaining in the draw who has not dropped a set at Roland Garros. That’s not all that surprising, considering the left-hander won 50 consecutive sets on clay — a record for a single surface — from his visit to Paris last year until this season’s Madrid quarter-finals. So while it might seem that there is not much to polish up, the top seed says that he is always working on his game.
“Some days you feel that some things have been better; some days you feel that some things have been worse. So you need to every day try to work on the things that you believe that you can improve more,” Nadal said. “But not because I am in quarter-finals or in second round. No, no, I just work every day with the goal to be better for tomorrow.”
To Nadal, there’s no big secret as to why that is the case. But he knows that every match is a new opportunity.
“You go on court. You can win, you can lose,” Nadal said. “That's the only thing that you need to be ready for.”