Q. You’re through to the semifinals without dropping a set again, like last year. Can you compare your level here this year versus last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I never like the comparisons between years. This year I am playing more regular than last year, no? I think last year I played against Troicki saving set points, against Serra I think easy. Next I played against Simon, saving set points. Today tough match, too, without playing very well, and against Mathieu I didn’t play very well.
The feeling I am playing well. I only had little bit worse match the second round, but for the rest I played very good third round. Against González and Simon I think was very good matches.
Today was tough, because play against Simon is always difficult. I can’t play exactly my rhythm because when I play my rhythm with the forehand trying to change directions with the forehand for him is good, no? I think he feels very well two meters behind the line and running all the time.
I think I had to change a little bit the strategy, trying to play a little bit more slice, short balls, try to change the rhythm, no? Play higher, play lower. So that’s what I try today.
Q. Sounds like you’re playing better. What is the difference? Is it your serving? What’s improved this year?
RAFAEL NADAL: If I play the same like all the year last year, you give me a paper and I sign, no?
The thing is always have illusion for improve. I never lost this illusion for continuing improve my tennis. I think I have little bit more things to do than a few years ago. I can slice a little bit more, I can go a little bit more to the net. I am playing a little bit better inside the court. That’s the things that I am improving, no, or trying to improve. The serve, I improved, but for sure I need improve more.
Q. Will it be very emotional to play a compatriot, Fernando Verdasco, in the semifinal?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always is good to play against another Spanish player in semifinals of Grand Slam, no? Is very good news for us. One player gonna be in the Final. But, you know, Fernando is playing at his best level. I never played against him when he’s playing at the level like right now, because I think he never played at this level before, beating Murray, beating Tsonga. Sometimes in the past he had some mistakes in important moments and he lost a little bit of concentration. But right now he’s changing these things, no?
I think he play very well in Brisbane, but right now he’s playing well, no? I saw his two matches against Tsonga and Murray. He was very focused all the time, knowing what he want to do all the time. So going to be very tough.
Q. Will that be a good feeling for you, playing against another Spanish player, someone you know well, compared to against someone you don’t know very well?
RAFAEL NADAL: No difference, no? The only difference, we both from Spain. We have good very relation. Good thing, one Spanish player going to be in the Final. So this is no different because in the end you play against a rival. This time the rival is another friend. But, anyway, going to be very tough.
Q. You’re from a hot country. How important is it going to be for players to stay out of the heat as they’re going further into the tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: Believe me, not like here. I never had the same ‑‑ I never feel the same like today when I was warming up outside.
Q. How do you think people from places that are cooler than where you come from are going to be handling the situation?
RAFAEL NADAL: It is a little bit easier for players who are from the countries with very hot. But in our case, I think is not like here, like this, no? In Spain is the winter right now. Is cold, very cold. So if you are from, I don’t know, Argentina, right now is the summer, is a little bit easier because you arrive with the same conditions. But for us is much different.
Q. Does having the roof closed or opened, the way it changes the way the court plays, is that good for your game or bad for your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, in the end you have to play well in both situations, no? Change a little bit, but not too much. Maybe is a little bit faster with the roof. But that’s it.
012809 wednesday /info-photo via Australian Open / Getty Images