INTERVIEW: RAFAEL NADAL. Spain's top tennis player takes stock "I've been too predictable a player" By JUAN JOSÉ MATEO - Manacor - 26/12/2011 - Translated by nou.amic for http://www.VamosBrigade.com We're in the lion's den. Rafael Nadal (Mallorca, 1986) is sitting on the terrace at Manacor tennis club, where he started playing when he was a child, and can't help his gaze straying to the match being played by a pair of forty-year-olds while he talks to EL PAÍS. It's chilly. He's wearing a woollen hat. The conversation leads off from one of his favourite songs, Vuela Alto (Fly high), by Julio Iglesias, with lyrics made-to-measure for his ironlike personality, his penchant for self-criticism, his brilliant career and his results in 2011, when he won Roland Garros and the Davis Cup and was defeated six times by the Serbian Novak Djokovic. Question: "Llegar a la meta cuesta / te cuesta tanto llegar / y cuando estás en ella / mantenerte cuesta más / Procura no descuidarte / ni mirar hacia detrás / o todo lo conseguido / te lo vuelven a quitar" "Reaching your goal is hard / it's very hard to get there / and when you're there / staying there is even harder. / Try not to be taken off guard / don't look back / or all you have obtained / will be taken away from you" . Do you see yourself reflected in that? RN. I like Julio Iglesias and that song a lot. The lyrics are good. They say interesting things, things with meaning... Q. "Aquí no regalan nada / todo tiene un alto precio / peldaño que vas subiendo / peldaño que hay que pagar" "There are no gifts given here / everything has a high price / every step you climb / has to be paid for" the words say. What mental toll have you paid for your losses to Nole? RN. One loses a bit of intensity over the years. The intensity in your belief in yourself, in your concentration, in being positive, in believing things are going to go well.. these are all in the mind. You gradually lose a bit of this over the years. You get burnt out by competition. I've spent seven years practically without being out of the top two in the world. It's the same as when they say I have a lot of injuries. I don't get injured much. I've had problems many times, but those that have been injured a great deal are Del Potro, Tsonga.. With seven years without dropping from the top two in the world and with the way tennis functions, it's impossible for me to have been much injured. It's always the same. They talk for the sake of talking. Many people write giving their impression, not quoting the statistics. I've had difficult moments, problems, but not really serious injuries... and it appears I get injured a lot. Q. I was asking you about your head not your body. RN. It's the same thing. My head was fine during the first half of the year, not perfect, because I was missing that bit more in the matches against Djokovic. But I was fine: I accepted the defeats, I went back to working, fighting... but clearly I lacked a little bit more level in my tennis. When you have that, your brain responds better. My game needed to have been less predictable. I was far too predictable many times during the season. These are things I have to get back for 2012. Perhaps I won't get it back for January... but I must have it back by April. Q. You're very self-critical in public. Roger Federer isn't.. RN. Everyone has his own way of seeing things and of trying to recover from situations. He has a different mentality, a different way of playing and different weapons from me. Mentally, he has been very good, though he's not distinguished for that but for his brilliant complete game. I, on the other hand, am distinguished for my concentration, for my high rhythm of play, for a very high level of mental capability to overcome circumstances... and that, which is the best I have, is what I can't lose. At a certain moment, I might lose my forehand, but the best of what I really have is my drive, the intensity in my legs, my concentration and the spirit to go that bit extra. That's what I've been lacking at certain given moments. I have to get it back if I want to have options of returning to winning. Q. I suppose you're referring to winning majors, not matches. RN. I'm referring to me winning. Not depending on others. Depending on myself. I've realised that this year I won very many matches, but in more of them than I should I was more dependent on my opponent than on myself. I was a bit lacking in intensity in everything: legs, shots and mind. Q. They used to call you Triturbo. Are your legs at the level they were in 2010? RN. No. They were worse in 2011. At a lower level of intensity. I put it all down to my head and my form of training. These last few years I've had some problems with my knees, and the problem with my foot. All my life, till I was 19 or 20 years old, I always practised at a very high level of intensity. Because of all those things, you start taking precautions. You end up practising with more care. This gradually takes away a little bit of your intensity. That's not the problem I have at the present moment, because I've been doing it for five years and I do it perfectly. The problem is to up my mental level and that of my legs. Q. Djokovic has done many things well. What things have you done badly against him? RN. Not to have gone that extra bit.