Rafael Nadal after season's first loss: 'I gave my best'

Tennis - Nadal lost the Indian Wells final in straight sets to Taylor Fritz

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal after season's first loss: 'I gave my best'

Rafael Nadal's streak of consecutive victories at the start of the season ended at 20. The Spaniard lost the Indian Wells final to Taylor Fritz 6-3, 7-6 after missing his chances in the second set. Struggling with a left pectoral muscle injury, Rafa could not play at his best and impose his strokes, spraying over 30 unforced errors to hand the first Masters 1000 trophy to the 24-year-old American.

Speaking about the final, Rafa said he could not do much, although he never stopped fighting and had chances to prolong the battle and force a decider. Thus, Nadal missed the opportunity to join Novak Djokovic on 37 Masters 1000 titles.

Fritz was not at his best either, experiencing an ankle injury in the semi-final against Andrey Rublev but enduring all the efforts to lift the trophy and crack the top-15. The American was the more aggressive player, his forehand did more damage and he stayed in touch with the Spaniard in the more extended exchanges.

Taylor won ten points more than Rafa and fended off eight out of ten break chances, mainly in the second set. Playing miles below his best, Nadal got broken four times from nine opportunities offered to his young opponent to finish on the losing side.

They had a similar number of winners, and the American tamed his strokes nicely to stay on 22 unforced errors while the Spaniard sprayed 34. Taylor forced Rafa's backhand error on the fourth break chance in the encounter's opening game for an early advantage.

In game two, the home player held at love and grabbed another break with a forced error for a 3-0 lead. Fritz moved 4-0 up with another comfortable hold before Nadal pulled one break back in game eight. Still, the Spaniard suffered the third break in game nine to hand it to his rival after 39 minutes.

Rafael Nadal struggled with an injury against Taylor Fritz.

Rafa broke at 1-1 in the second set before losing the advantage in the next game. Fritz defended four break points at 2-2 for a massive hold and played against a break chance at 4-4.

Taylor saved it with a reliable backhand and brought the game home in another pivotal moment. After a running forehand down the line winner, the home player earned a match point at 5-4. Nadal saved it with a forehand attack and survived to lock the result at 5-5.

The Spaniard wasted two more break chances in the 11th game and put himself under pressure in the tie break. The more experienced player hit a terrible forehand drive-volley at 5-4, which marked the beginning of his end. Taylor grabbed another mini-break in the 11th point and converted the second match point with a forehand attack for a career-best moment.

"I tried my best, but it was not my day. That happens, and I have experience in all these situations. To be honest, it was tough to play the final like this, but I gave my everything until the end. I had my chances in the second set, but I did not convert them; that's it.

I think it's a difficult match to analyze personally from my side because I could not do many things I usually do," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Indian Wells Taylor Fritz