Rafael Nadal: 'That match can make a difference even...'

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Rafael Nadal: 'That match can make a difference even...'

Rafael Nadal's season starts uphill and, at the same time, the year ends in the worst possible way. Before 2023 officially begins in Australia, the Spanish tennis player kicked off his new season in the United Cup. In his debut match, he faced Cameron Norrie, UK number one in this new competition: first match, first loss.

The Spanish number two was defeated in three sets: after winning the first, he let his rival come back in the next two. This loss means two things: apart from the point lost in the national competition, Nadal opened the season with a loss.

It is not the first time that the number two in Spain debuts in a new season with a defeat: it is the third time in the entire career of the left-hander from Manacor. Although it happened in 2022, the 2023 season is the third that began with the game he lost to Cameron Norrie in the United Cup.

For the fictitious 2023, that is, this new season slightly taken back to the new year, there are only two precedents. The last time Rafael Nadal suffered a defeat in the first match of the new season was in 2015: at the Doha tournament, then preparatory to the Australian Open, the twenty-two-time Slam champion was defeated in the first round by Michael Berrer, a German tennis player who had passed the previous phase of that tournament.

Also in that match, the Spaniard, seeded number two in the tournament, was rallied after winning the first set. The first time, instead, he goes back to his first seasons as a professional tennis player. Again, it was a preparatory tournament for the Australian Open.

At the Chennai tournament, Nadal defeated the Frenchman Thierry Ascione: it is the only case in which the Slam champion did not win a single set of the match, with a clear 7-6, 6-4.

Rafa has lost two matches

Rafael Nadal lauded the level of competition but pointed out flaws in the format of the inaugural United Cup after losing successive matches in Sydney.

"Putting things in perspective, that this competition I find a negative point, you know. Competition is great. Idea is great. It's not great that today we are playing for nothing. I really believe - it's the first year of this competition, so that's kind of things that need to fix, to improve, and to make it more interesting for everyone," Rafael Nadal stated during a post-match press conference.

"Because, for example yesterday, even if we lost yesterday, with the format how it is, the last mixed doubles match probably I will be playing, because maybe that match can make a difference even losing the tie because we have another day," he explained.

Rafael Nadal