After spending a month away from home, Rafael Nadal has returned to Spain and landed at Barcelona airport. The 21-time Grand Slam winner lost the Indian Wells title on Sunday to Taylor Fritz, losing his first match of the season and heading home for a well-earned break.
Asked about his condition at the airport, Rafa said that he is fine. The 35-year-old has had an incredible start to the season, winning the first 20 matches and lifting three titles from four finals. With these points, Rafa is back in the top three for the first time since August last year, and he hopes to have more good runs on his beloved clay in the coming months.
Rafa struggled with a pectoral muscle injury in Indian Wells, which prevented him from performing at his best against Fritz. The first-time Masters 1000 finalist defeated Nadal 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and six moments, in the most significant moment of his young career.
Like Rafa, Taylor was also far from his best, dealing with an ankle injury but deciding to play and give his best against the legend. The American was the most determined player on court, taking advantage of Nadal making too many unforced errors after struggling to breathe or move properly.
Taylor saved eight out of ten break points and made the difference with four breaks of serve and better performance in the crucial moments. Fritz got off to a great start and broke Nadal in games two and four for a 4-0 lead in a quick 19 minutes.
The American served for the opening set at 5-2 as the Spaniard got his first break and prolonged the action.
Corretja pays tribute to Nadal
Alex Corretja recently gave his thoughts on the GOAT debate, asserting that Roger Federer should not be left out of the discussion simply because of his poor head-to-head record against Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
"When people say Roger Federer has lost against Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal more times and that's why he can't be the best in history, it's absurd to me," Corretja said. "Because of their [contrasting] style of play, Nadal is obviously going to do a lot of damage to him." Corretja reckons that since Nadal can target Federer's backhand relentlessly with his top-spin forehand, it was only natural for the Swiss to struggle in their encounters.
"The only tactical mole that hurts him is the backhand high ball and the best shot in history is Rafa's high cross forehand to the opponent's backhand," Corretja said. "The best of one is combined with the only weak point of the other."