Rafael Nadal: ‘I played a player who was better than me and that’s why I’m coming home’

Home » Rafael Nadal: ‘I played a player who was better than me and that’s why I’m coming home’
Rafael Nadal: ‘I played a player who was better than me and that’s why I’m coming home’

What made the difference today?
The difference is simple: I played a bad game and he played a good game. In the end, that’s all. I was not able to maintain a high level of tennis over time. I wasn’t quick enough on my moves, he was able to get the ball too early on too many times and I wasn’t able to back him off. Tennis is often a positional sport. Otherwise, you must be very fast and very young. I am no longer in this period at all (smile). My shots need to be better. Somehow my understanding of the game and the quality of my shots weren’t good enough, they were poor. I wasn’t able to create any damage on his game. Kudos to him. He was better than me.

Do you think that your injuries, before and after Wimbledon, your less than optimal preparation, can have something to do with the way you move on the court today?
We can lament, complain about many things, but that does not change the situation. You can think, if I hadn’t been injured, maybe I win Wimbledon, maybe I win something else in the past. Or maybe I’m losing something else because I wasn’t able to create that inner strength after all that hurt. It’s part of my career. Sometimes it happens cleanly, other times completely unexpectedly, like in Australia or at Roland-Garros this year. Of course, it was not the ideal preparation for the US Open for me. But in some cases, we find the right path despite a less than perfect preparation. We can’t find excuses. I have to be critical enough with myself. This is the only way to progress and find solutions. I worked well in training the week before, but when the competition started, my level dropped. It’s the truth. For different reasons, I don’t know, the mental approach, given everything that’s happened in the last few months. Maybe. But in the end, I arrived in the 4th round of the US open and I played a player who was better than me. And that’s why I’m coming home.

“I have much more important things than tennis that will happen in my personal life, with the birth of my first son.

What do you think of the development of Frances Tiafoe?
All credit goes to him, no doubt. He did a lot of things well. But in the end, if it’s important to recognize all the good things the opponent has done, I also have to analyze myself more than my opponent. It is certain that Tiafoe played more solid than before. He served well, took the ball early, relied on a good backhand. And it goes fast, everyone knows that. But I don’t think I pushed him enough to bring doubt to him. Tennis is always a balance. When someone isn’t playing that well, it’s easier for the opponent to play better. If my ball is not high quality, he is able to recite his game much easier. He was better than me today. He played with the right determination. But if you want to go to the quarterfinals of the US Open, I have to do things better, that’s clear. I have to go back, fix some things. I don’t know when I will return. I will try to be mentally ready. When I feel like I’m ready to compete again, I’ll be there.

What do you think of the possibility that others than Federer, Djokovic and Nadal can now occupy the place of world No. 1?
It just means that the years pass. It is the natural cycle of life. Some pass, others arrive. We spent many years at the top, others are coming and that’s normal. It’s completely natural.

Can you tell us what your end-of-season schedule will be?
I just lost a round of 16 on the last Grand Slam of the year. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to make an accurate analysis of what my immediate future will be. I’ll go home first. I have much more important things than tennis that are going to happen in my personal life, with the birth of my first son (expected end of October, beginning of November). It’s time to do a reset. Then, return to professional life, return to training, do a mini pre-season to perhaps end the year in Europe with good feelings.

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