Rafael Nadal: 'If you let del Potro hit strong forehand, you are DEAD'


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Rafael Nadal: 'If you let del Potro hit strong forehand, you are DEAD'

Rafael Nadal dropped just five games to Andrey Rublev to reach US Open semi-finals for the first time since 2013. The Spaniard is happy for his overall progress in the last rounds: 'I have been improving during the whole event, and I have been doing step forward match by match, and now is the moment to do it, another step forward, a little bit higher is possible, too.

So I think I have the attitude to try to make that happen. I am excited about that semi-finals. I know I gonna have a very tough opponent in front. And I need to play my best. So since tomorrow morning, because today I gonna enjoy the few hours off that I have, enjoy the fact that I am in semifinals.

But I wake up tomorrow morning knowing that I have to do something more, and I gonna work hard to work in that way. Mentally, I know what I need to do, and I gonna try to do it.' About Rublev's progress, Nadal said: 'It's difficult, 19 years old, do what he did.

He won against great players, competing very well. For the last six months, I think he improved a lot. If he continues with that improvement, he gonna fight for the most important things that we have in our sport. I think he has the right people around.

I think he's working well. He has passion for what he's doing. He's a good guy, humble.' About Russian players in the past and the present generation: 'Safin used to practice in Spain too. And Rublev and Khachanov, they are practicing in Spain, too.

They play aggressive. Of course if they are from Russia, I suppose that they played a lot indoors when they are kids. So of course they hit flatter, they hit quick. But at the same time, I think is so important to play on clay when you are young, too, no? Not because clay -- I know there is more tournaments on hard than clay in our tour, no? But when you play on clay, you understand a little bit better our sport, no? Because you have more time.

You play in terms of tactic, in terms of mentality, in terms of understand a little bit more the sport. So I think a lot of good players that are good players on hard and specialists on hard, they played a lot on clay when they were kids, and that helps a lot, no? The same for Karen or Andrey both in Spain.

I think they are doing well. They are practicing with good coaches, and they have the right experience there to become top, top players. They have the potential, and I believe they have the chance to be fighting for the most important things.' About the rivalry with Roger Federer: 'The most special thing is we created a classic match that people expect to see this kind of match.

Combination of styles. Of course, we can talk about things, but what really makes this match special is we have been competing for the most important events for, I don't know, 10, 12 years, and we have been solid there, fighting for these things.

So we repeat this kind of match, these kind of finals in a long time and a lot of times. Of course that became a tradition. At the same time is even more special when we are, of course, at the last part of our careers.' People are obviously fascinated by the rivalry.

What do you admire most about Roger on court and what do you admire most about him as a man off the court? 'I don't want to look like I gonna be his boyfriend, no?' joked Nadal. 'We don't want to talk these kind of things before important match.

Well, we have a lot of respect for each other, no? We played a lot of times. I think we did important things for tennis. We appreciate that. We always had a good relationship. We played for our foundations. I think he always have been a great ambassador for tennis and for our sport, with good image, of course, and representing, I think, good values.

One important thing that is a great example for kids, no, after a lot of years and winning more than nobody, he still have the passion to keep doing what he did during all his career. And doing unbelievable well and doing with the right attitude and with the right passion and love for the sport.

So that's something important for me and something that I admire him, and inside the court, I admire of him the same, as you can admire, because everybody knows how complete is him, and he's able to produce all the shots.' About next match against del Potro: 'Juan Martin is a top player, no? Is true that when he's playing well, it's difficult to stop him.

Probably the forehand is maybe the fastest on the tour. And of course to win tonight, he should be serving well. If he serve well and hit well his forehand, he's a player that have the chance to win against, of course, everybody.

If I play against him, of course I have to play my best tennis. I need to be very focused with my serve and play aggressive, because if you let him play from good positions with his forehand, you are dead, because he plays super-aggressive, hitting so hard.

So probably he's unstoppable from that positions, no? I need to play long, I need to play against his backhand, and then open the court.'