Rafael Nadal was at a loss to explain his service woes on Friday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, but the 11-time former champion says that he’ll quickly return to the practice court.
The Spanish superstar struck an uncharacteristic seven double faults – and was broken seven times – in his 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 loss to sixth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev.
“For some reason I had problems with my serve,” said Nadal, who won just 42 per cent of his second service points. “I don’t understand why, because I was not having problems in the practices at all. But today, was one of those days that my serve was a disaster.
“Serving like this, the serve creates an impact on the rest of the game. When you serve with no confidence, you are just focusing on trying to serve, not thinking about how you want to [hit] the ball. You just think about what you have to do with the serve to put the ball in.
“When you face great player like him and you don’t play well, you should lose. That’s easy to analyse.”
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Nadal, who recovered from 2-4 down in the second set, praised Rublev, who is now an ATP Tour-best 23-4 on the 2021 season.
“He played well and he deserved [it] more than me,” said Nadal, who is now 73-6 at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. “I fought. That’s the positive thing, I was there. But you can’t expect [to] win against a player like him losing my serve… too many [times]… He played great. He played aggressive, as I knew [he would]. Well done to him. He’s a great guy. [I] wish him all the best.”
The 34-year-old will now travel back to Spain to compete at the upcoming Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where he is also an 11-time titlist.
“The only thing that I can do is go to Barcelona and keep practising, keep practising, try to fix the things that didn’t work well. I think my backhand today was not [good] enough. Lots of mistakes. I was not able to open the court with my backhand then.”
When asked about how Casper Ruud will fare on Saturday against Rublev, Nadal admitted the Norwegian, who trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, has a good chance.
“It’s a tough match for both of them,” said Nadal. “Casper is a great player. Especially on this surface, he’s one of the best players in the world. [It] will be a tough battle tomorrow.
“I don’t see a clear favourite. I think both of them can win. Casper is playing great… [It] will be nice that somebody from the academy [gets to] the final of Monte-Carlo and wins it.”