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Rafael Nadal, before his start in Indian Wells: “I can’t be happier”

” How are you doing ?
I feel good. I’ve been here for over a week. Everyone knows it’s one of my favorite tournaments. I train, play golf, enjoy the weather and try to be ready for the tournament.

You are on a 15 game winning streak. What inspires you?
It’s happiness, a surprise. I am grateful to my team and my family for their support in very difficult times. I try to enjoy every moment, to live in the moment. Being in this position today is unexpected, I take advantage of it every day and try to keep the right attitude. I’m playing well, I’ve already won three titles this year, which is incredible for me.

What particularly satisfies you about your game since the start of the season?
It depends on the days. Generally speaking, I’ve always been able to find a solution to adapt to what I need to be competitive on a daily basis: sometimes it’s being more aggressive, sometimes more defensive, sometimes changing things tactically. .

My service has been working very well since the beginning of the year, which is obviously very important at this stage of my career. I knew how to be brave enough to play with the right determination when I needed it. I’m working to keep improving, but overall I couldn’t be happier with my level of play, my intensity and my tactics.

Are you someone who follows the news closely on a daily basis or do you manage to break away from it to focus on tennis?
I am everything that happens. In the past three years, the world has suffered greatly. The Covid, now a war… When we see people suffering around the world, we can’t not follow, we can’t not suffer for these people. And at the same time, life goes on. I hope things will improve. Humanity needs a little calm after three terrible years of suffering across the world.

“I couldn’t finish a session normally. The period during which I suffered is much longer than the duration of my absence”

How have you adapted, training-wise, to your foot injury?
When I was able to train more or less, I simply adapted the training to my foot. It’s that simple. I was not able to do everything I wanted. I tried to stay as positive as possible, that’s all. It’s sometimes hard to believe for people who aren’t by my side on a daily basis, but honestly, I couldn’t prepare a lot of things before the Australian Open. Without being able to move around a lot, I felt that I was hitting the ball well. But run? I didn’t train. We did not train on the movements. We spent time on my serve. And not much else.

Rafael Nadal in training on Thursday. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Looking back, where do you place that Australian Open title in your career? You were particularly moved after the final…
Of course I was moved in Australia. I went through difficult times. People stop at the last six months since that’s the period during which I haven’t played, but after Roland-Garros… If you remember correctly, after the Australian Open, I didn’t have didn’t play until the clay season because I had my issues. Then, after Roland-Garros, I could hardly walk for two weeks. I couldn’t go down the stairs normally.

I had to withdraw from Wimbledon. And I wasn’t ready to play in Washington, but I wanted to try. The two months of training before had been terrible. I could not complete a session normally. The period during which I suffered is much longer than the duration of my absence. The fact that I felt competitive again, that I had fun on the court again, that I was playing in a big stadium with full stands, which I had missed a lot, that’s what made me emotional .

“It’s a wound that can’t be healed. It’s the truth. Some days it’s good, others not. You have to manage it as best you can and find a way to play as much as possible without limits.

How are your feet doing today? Is it 100% cured?
We ain’t gonna talk about my foot all day (to smile). If you don’t mind, we’ll talk about it for the last time because I want to play tennis! When will my foot be 100% restored? Never. It is a wound that cannot be healed. It’s the truth. Some days it’s good, others not. You have to manage it as best you can and find a way to play as much as possible without limits. The goal is to play without fear of placing your foot where it is needed to hit the ball well.

It was not possible for a long time. This year I was able to do that most of the time. That’s why I’m enjoying tennis again. But if you tell me that my foot is no longer a source of concern for me, it is not true. I worry about my foot every day. We’ll see how it will evolve. For now, I couldn’t be happier. But there will be a time when I need to do a little more care, maybe stop for a little while and find the right balance between playing and resting. Getting good tournament planning right and sticking to it. It’s my aim.

What do you think of the ATP’s decision to only suspend Alexander Zverev after his freakout in Acapulco?
It’s very difficult to talk about it in my position. I have differing opinions on this. I have a good relationship with Sascha, I like him, I train with him often and I wish him the best. He knows he was wrong, he recognized it quickly. This is what is positive on his side.

But on the other hand, if we are not able to control this kind of behavior on the court, his own but also other things that we have seen in recent months, to create a rule to sanction more harshly this kind of attitude, we players will feel stronger and stronger.

Sport must be a positive example for the children who watch us. On the one hand, I don’t want Sascha to be punished because I like him. But on the other hand, as a fan of the sport, I would like greater penalties for this type of behavior, not just his. It protects the sport, the referees and all the people who revolve around our sport. »

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