Nadal: 'Now Is The Moment To Keep Going'
Rafael Nadal has never been one to dwell on the past and he made that clear throughout the week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
“You don't complain when you play bad, when you have problems, when you have pains. You put [on] the right attitude [and] the right face. You go on court every day with the passion to keep practising,” said Nadal. "That's something that I did during all of my career…that’s why I was able to always have the chance to be back. Here we are. Important title, important moment. Now is the moment to keep going.”
The Spaniard was reluctant to talk about his losses throughout the European clay swing or why he hadn’t won a title this season, marking the first time since 2004 that he hadn’t prevailed at an ATP Tour event in the first four months of the year. But with his victory over Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final in Rome, Nadal was very willing to revel in the moment.
“You were asking for titles. Finally, I have a title,” said Nadal. "For me, the most important thing is feeling myself playing well and healthy, with the energy that I need. If that happens, the experience is that I’m going to fight for titles sooner or later.
“Of course, playing against Novak is always a special thing because it’s part of the history of this sport. It’s always a special feeling. Today was for me and the last couple of times have been for him, but I’m happy for the title more than winning against Novak. I am especially happy because the level was very high.”
Nadal was in top form from the first ball in Rome, dropping 13 games to reach the final and recording four 6-0 sets throughout the week. His 6-0 opening set in Sunday’s final against Djokovic marked the first time either player achieved that score in their 54 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. But while the opening set sent shockwaves through the Foro Italico, the Spaniard was far more pleased with his performance.
“I don't care about winning 6-0 or 6-4, to be honest,” said Nadal. “I played a great first set in all aspects. No mistakes, playing so aggressive, changing directions. These kind of days happen, but it’s not usual and probably will not happen again.
“The first set is just an important part of the match. It showed that I was able to play at this level. That’s important for today, important for tomorrow.”
Nadal was characteristically candid about his struggles the European clay swing season, describing his semi-final loss at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters to Fabio Fognini as a “low moment” and first-round win at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell over Leonardo Mayer as “a disaster.” But the Spaniard continued to work tirelessly to find solutions and his efforts paid off in Rome.
Nadal will head to Roland Garros as the favourite to win a 12th crown in Paris. He's made it clear with his tennis this week that it will take a top player in top form to halt him.
“Every day was a little bit better. Yesterday was probably my best match on clay so far this season before today, because today I played better than yesterday. So that's it. I'm happy to reach that level in the last tournament before a Grand Slam,” said Nadal. “But, as I said, don't want to talk about Grand Slams now. I never did in the past. For me, what means a lot is that every tournament is so special for me. [To] have the chance to win again here in Rome is unique.”