The Spanish tennis player and Olympic gold medalist spills beans in an exclusive press conference at Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi
I started my practices, slowly, step by step, going from fifteen to twenty minutes and increasing the amount of time as I felt better.
I am super happy to back. This is a tournament I’ve played at plenty of times in my career. I have a lot of positive memories. I’m getting to come back to a competition after a long period of time, so I am very happy about that.
It’s been crucial to be able to manage pain. It’s time to test it during the competition and if I wasn’t feeling better, I wouldn’t be here. The comeback won’t be easy, I don’t have big expectations, but my only expectation is to be here, play in front of a great crowd again, to feel myself competing again against great players and enjoy! It’s been a really rough period of time for me. Just being here is great news and I hope I get better and better to be able to play at the level I want to be.
I have been very selective in the tournaments I compete at over the last five years and it’s nothing new for me. My goal is to have the chance to be selective. Be healthy enough to choose the matches I want to play or don’t want to play. My priority today is to enjoy, have fun and feel competitive again. I am doing all the things to try to be the best because I am still passionate and still confident that I am able to play with no limitations. So that’s the goal. I don’t know what’s going to happen but that’s the only thing that is sure and I am trying my best to do everything in my power to try to give myself more chances.
I am no one to confirm what determines who the best player of all time is. I have been out of the competition for the past five to six months. I understand the conversation is always there especially around Novak. He’s been competing every week almost but for me and Roger, we have been injured for such a long period of time. I mean, of course we’re equal but the chances for Novak are much higher than us. He is healthy, is competing and doing well. Let’s see what happens in the next couple of months. If I am back again, we can talk about that later in the season. Now my real goal is to be back and to healthy and competitive. If that happens, let’s see.
In this sport, my experience says things change very quickly. What might seem impossible or almost impossible is true as no one knows what can happen in a month. The only thing that I want to do is be healthy and then play the tournament before Australia. I want to be there 20 days before the tournament begins so I am able to practice. I have been doing a great job at home, practicing well, with the right attitude. I’ve been working a lot on my fitness. I have been able to do all these things despite my foot so you never know what’s going on. My expectation is just to be in Australia and be there healthy enough to play the tournament with positive feelings. I know it’s going to be super difficult for me as I am just going to play one tournament before Australia and two matches in Abu Dhabi. So, the amount of hours on court and the competitive level before such a tough and demanding tournament like Australia will be no match but the main thing is always the same. I need to be healthy. I still have the interior fire to keep going and to fight.
After this, I am going to go back home, celebrate Christmas with my family and friends and keep practicing. If nothing wrong happens here and things continue the way we expect as a team, I will keep practicing and be ready.
Well, it’s obvious that without a doubt Italian and Russian tennis has a great generation of players now. Rublev has been competing in the masters, Medvedev, too. For the women, Russia has been amazing for the last 15 years. I think the Italian Tennis Federation is doing a great job because in some way I mean, it’s not all about money but of course the money helps a lot. It helps promote our sport and also aides the younger generations to practice and to have the best coaches.
The Italian Tennis Federation have a Master Sergeant and that’s a lot of money per year to invest in in the players and centers to promote tennis in Italy. Now they have a lot of great players as well as potential talent. They’d definitely want to continue like this. A Spanish tennis team is still healthy but I can’t hide, that for a couple of years we haven’t brought great players on Tour. It’s true. It’s impossible to be on the top for 30 years. I don’t want to even begin naming all the great Spanish tennis players we’ve had over the last 25 years. Generation after generation we’ve had players in the top eight/ top ten. Now we’re having some tough years and no doubt that the new generation hasn’t come but through these years I have been there, Roberto, Pablo and other great players are still defending our country. Now with Carlos, all the things that he did last year will be a good thing for our sport again.