Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal: “I played a better player 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 have not been able to maintain a high level of tennis over time. I wasn’t fast enough in my moves, many times he managed to get the ball too early and I couldn’t get it back. Tennis is generally a positional sport. Otherwise, you have to be very fast and very young. I am no longer in this period (smile). My shots need to be better. Somehow my understanding of the game and the quality of my shots were not good enough, they were poor. I couldn’t inflict any damage in the game. He was better than me.

Do you think your injuries, less than optimal preparation, before and after Wimbledon might have something to do with the way you’re on the field today?
We can cry and complain about many things, but that doesn’t change the situation. You might think that if I hadn’t been injured, maybe I would have won Wimbledon, maybe I would have won something else in the past. Or maybe I’m losing something else because I couldn’t create that inner strength after all the pain. It’s part of my career. This sometimes happens completely unexpectedly, as in Australia or this year at Roland-Garros. Of course, it wasn’t an ideal preparation for the US Open for me.

But in some cases, we find the right path despite less than perfect preparation. We can’t find excuses. I have to be critical enough of myself. This is the only way to move forward and find a solution. A week ago, I worked well in training, but when the competition started, my level dropped. That’s the truth. Considering everything that’s happened in the last few months, for different reasons, I don’t know, mental approach. Maybe. But I finally got to the 4th round of the US Open and played a better player than me. And that’s why I’m coming home.

“With the birth of my first son, more important things will happen in my private life than tennis”

What do you think of Frances Tiafoe’s development?
All praise goes to him, no doubt. He did many things well. But after all, if it’s important to recognize all the good things the competitor does, I must analyze myself more than my opponent. Tiafoe is definitely playing harder than before. He served well, got the ball early, counted on a good backhand. And it goes fast, everybody knows that. But I don’t think I’m pushing him hard enough to make him suspicious. Tennis is always a balance. When someone doesn’t play that well, it’s easier for the opponent to play better.

If my ball is not of good quality, he can read his game much more easily. He was better than me today. He played with the right determination. But if you want to make it to the quarterfinals at the US Open, I have to do everything better, that’s obvious. I have to go back and fix some things. I don’t know when I will be back. I will try to be mentally prepared. I’ll be there when I feel ready to race again.

What do you think about the possibility that Federer, Djokovic and others from Nadal will now replace world number 1?
It just means that the years have passed. It is the natural cycle of life. Some pass, others come. We’ve had many years at the top, others are coming and that’s normal. It’s completely natural.

Can you tell me what your end-of-season schedule will be like?
At the last Grand Slam of the year, I lost the last 16 rounds. As you can imagine, it is difficult to make an accurate analysis of what my immediate future will be. I will go home first. With the birth of my first son (expected late October, early November) things will be more important than tennis in my personal life. It’s time to do a reset. Then go back to professional life, back to training, maybe do a mini pre-season in Europe to end the year with good feelings. »

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