Nadal Moves into the Rio Open Semifinals after Beating Cuevas
Rafael Nadal has moved one step closer
towards defending the Rio Open title that he won last year by moving into the
semi-finals after a convincing victory over Pablo Cuevas. The Uruguayan was the
sixth seed in the tournament and he threatened to spring a surprise by winning
the opening set 4-6. This served as a major warning for the 14 time grand slam
champion, who responded with style to win the remaining two sets and progress
to the semi-finals. The match ended as a 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory for Nadal.
Betfair places Nadal at 2/5 to win the 2015 Rio Open.
Despite the victory, the Spaniard was not
pleased with the way the match ended in the early hours of Saturday morning
local time. The organisers seemed pretty happy with the 3:21
am closing time of the match, but Nadal said that this was not ideal for
the players. The end came 14 hours after the tournament had opened, but it was
not the worst as one non-Grand Slam match had finished at 3:24 am back in 2006
Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Guga Kuerten experienced the Rio Carnaval.
It was raining on Sunday but that didn't stopped the party plans for Rafa and David.
They officially opened the shows of the Special Group, with Unidos da Viradouro. Singing the “Samba Enredo – Veias do Brasil”.
“It was the first time we had the chance to enjoy the Rio Carnaval and it has been an unforgettable experience,” said Nadal. “There was unbelievable positive energy [from] everyone. Everyone was singing and dancing; it was fantastic for me to have the chance to enjoy this unique experience.”
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I am feeling okay. Just was not my day. I didn't play with the right intensity, with the right rhythm, and the opponent played better than me. In sport, when you are going to play against an opponent, was a day that the opponent played better than me.
Q. Do you think it's also the fact that you haven't played such a player for a while, the whole process of coming back?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is probably not the day to talk about that. We talked enough about that before the tournament and almost every day, so is a day that I just can congratulate my opponent, accept that. Is obvious that I needed something more to be more competitive, as I did in the third. The third was the right set, the right game that I have to play. But is obvious that before I didn't play with the right confidence, with the right intensity, losing court, playing very short. I make him play very easy. So you cannot expect to win matches in quarterfinals of Grand Slam helping the opponent to play well. That's what I did. The first two sets, the beginning -- since the beginning of the third, I played with more character, more the way that I have to play to have chances to keep being -- to be where I want to be, to be where I have been for the last lot of years. I don't know how many. So that's it. Just will keep working hard on the things that I have to do. As I said when I arrived here, the process always is not easy. When you have injuries, are difficult the comebacks. There are so many examples around the world of sport that have been tough to be back. For me, I'm not an exception on that, no? I have to take the positive things. Without being at my top level of tennis I was able to be here in quarterfinals. Is not a bad result at all for me arriving here the way I arrived: only with one match, only with five matches in seven months. So taking the positive part, that's the thing that I have to take. That's just the beginning of the season, and I want to keep having chances to compete well against everybody. I need to keep working the way that I am doing for be ready for the next. The season is long, I know. Beginnings are tough. I need to be ready to accept all the situations that's going to happen or happened and try to be strong, accepting everything, and working hard to be back the way that I want to be. When I say 'be back,' I don't mean win or lose, I mean have the feeling on court that when you are there you feel confident, you feel you can compete against everybody with equal conditions.
Rafael Nadal Interview Australian Open R4 Sunday, 25 January, 2015
Q. It seems like after 5-all you had no problems anymore.
RAFAEL NADAL: Problems? There is always. There is always some key points of the match that change the dynamic of the match. Is true that I was lucky in the first set to have the set with me because was very dangerous. I think Kevin was playing very aggressive from the beginning, going for the winners every shot. He had the breakpoint before in the 3-2 or 3-All, I think. Then with the 5-All I was lucky, sure. I played two forehands down the line, because was not an easy forehand because he pushed me. I changed the direction, but I can miss that shot, no? Then a few good serves, but especially the ace again. Yeah, but in general, even if he had that chances in the first set, even in the first set seem that he was having more chances than me, I was playing better than the days before, no? I felt myself with better rhythm in the legs, better rhythm with my forehand. So in general, I am very happy the way I played today. The way that I improved my level is not the most important thing; obviously the victory is.
Q. Until the game that you broke him in the first set, you had only won one point on his serve. Was it a matter of you figuring out the serve, or did his level of serving drop?
Q. How did you day yesterday go and how did you feel today on the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yesterday was okay. Seriously I feel that I was in terms of legs I wake up in the morning better than what I thought. In terms of, you know, I was still a little bit dizzy yesterday. I think I lost lot of fluids the other night. But in general I was not very, very bad. Knowing that I going to play tonight, I know -- I hope that I -- I thought I going to be ready for tonight, no? Happy the way I was physically on court tonight. Obviously happy the way I played the first two sets. Then the third play with more mistakes, but all is part of the process that I am doing. It's normal to play every day with a little bit more ups and downs when you are out for a while.
Q. Was it focus in the third set or because it goes on and on the body needs to adjust to compete again?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, it's a little bit about confidence, a little bit about the feelings on everything. You know, when you are on the tour, playing better or playing worse, you make some mistakes. But normally that don't affects for the next balls, no? But obviously when you're not there on competition for a long time, without having that feelings for a while, you need to readapt your mental part, your confidence again to the court. Happens when I have some mistakes that I am losing little bit of confidence for a while. It's positive that at the end of the match I play with the right position, right determination again. But it's true for that games I was having more mistakes than usual with my forehand again.
Q. You said after your first-round match you didn't know a whole lot about Tim. How much did you learn in the last couple days? Were you surprised by the way he played in the end?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I saw him play some videos. I checked some videos. Well, I think he played well, but is true that what he did at the end of the fifth is just amazing. Congratulate. I say on the court, but I want to say here, too. Very few players can do that after four hours something of match, 5-All, Love-30. So just will say thanks to him because he's a great example what he did today.
Q. What was your reaction? Were you surprised?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, sure. At the end should not be surprising, but is surprise. That's not positive thing. But is good. Is great. Is very difficult to make it and he did, so just congratulate.
Q. After the third set, what was happening in your mind and body? Did you feel at this moment that you can still turn this around?