Nadal Below His Best But Still Better Than The Rest

This content was published 14 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.

Despite taking only 80 minutes to dispatch Philipp Kohlschreiber, Rafael Nadal did not think he had a particularly good day at the office
“It wasn’t my best match but it was a correct match,” said the reigning champion, “I played safe, I stayed focused all the time and Philipp tried to play more aggressively for a few moments but he made more mistakes than usual and that helped me a little bit. My serve was working well, I worked well from the base-line and I felt good. It’s important to win and Philipp is a tough opponent. To play against him in the second round was a challenge for me.”
A challenge indeed – not many seeds, if any, would relish coming up against the world No.29 in their first match at a Masters Tournament, particularly when they have had a bye and their opponent has already found his feet by playing the first round. Nadal is not like any other player however. His served was working more than well – both first and second of that ilk – to such an extent that the German could carve out only one break point all match, which was promptly dismissed with a service right in the corner of the box and a follow-up whipped forehand (what else?)
Having got a win under his belt, the Majorcan was more open in his press conference than in the one which preceded the tournament. Nadal is never at his happiest facing the media, and when the questions are all hypothetical – which they are by nature pre-tournament – it is guaranteed to make him furrow his brow and harden his stare. Today however, he took it in his stride and got back into the “neutral answer” rhythm which he – and most other players – have perfected.
“Please don’t compare me with Roger because he has lost very few matches in his career,” he said when asked about Federer’s evaluation of him, that he “never has a shock result and never loses to anyone outside the top 10 or top five” – this before the Swiss world No.1 had fallen to the unheralded Ernests Gulbis in the second round. “I don’t know, I just do my best and one day I’m going to lose. Perhaps tomorrow , but I hope not. I just do my best. Every match is difficult and I try to do my best every day. We will see what will happen.”
After a few words on his opponent in Thursday’s night session, Victor Hanescu (“an aggressive player. He has a good serve, he plays very aggressive from the base line and he’s fast, so he can be a very dangerous player. He beat Monaco yesterday with a very good win and Monaco is a very good player, especially on clay, so he must be playing really well. He focuses all the time and I’ll have to play my best tennis”), it was time for what seems to be the obligatory “jumping the gun” question
“It’s a little bit tiring talking every day about a final when I am only in my second match,” he sighed when quizzed on whom he would like to face on Sunday. “I can start thinking about the final on Saturday night. On Wednesday afternoon is very difficult for me to think about the final. I have a tough opponent tomorrow and I’m focusing on that. I’m not looking that far ahead.” A straight sets win with barely a hiccup and little out of the ordinary to deal with – both on centre court and in the press room. Neither opponent had what it takes to trouble Nadal, even with the Spaniard below his best.

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