Rafael Nadal opens up about his terrible Rome Masters run

Rafael Nadal claimed only four games against Hubert Hurkacz at Foro Italico

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal opens up about his terrible Rome Masters run
© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal will kick off his 19th Roland Garros campaign against world no. 4 Alexander Zverev on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Rafa arrived in Paris with a protected ranking, and the draw did not favor him, facing the Rome Masters winner already in the first match!

Nadal embraced fine training sessions in Paris, feeling much better than in Rome, where he described his performance as a disaster! The ten-time champion at Foro Italico scored one victory at one of his favorite events before suffering a heavy loss against a top-10 rival.

Nadal met the Belgian Zizou Bergs in the first round and notched a hard-fought 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in two hours and 53 minutes. Thus, Rafa celebrated his 70th victory in the Italian capital, achieving a notable milestone.

Bergs fought well, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the opener and clinching it to move in front. Nadal raised his level in sets two and three, serving well and delivering a break in each to emerge at the top.

Rafael Nadal & Hubert Hurkacz, Rome Masters 2024© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafa fired 19 service winners, but his groundstrokes could have worked better.

He sprayed 32 mistakes and welcomed 36 from his rival to seal the deal. Nadal claimed three points more than his rival, falling behind in the mid-range exchanges and overcoming the deficit in the shortest and most advanced rallies.

The veteran denied seven out of nine break points and notched three breaks, passing the first obstacle and setting the clash against Hubert Hurkacz. Nadal did not look well against a better-ranked rival, suffering a heavy 6-1, 6-3 loss and ending his campaign.

The Spaniard did not have much left in the tank following that three-hour battle two days earlier, struggling on serve and return and playing miles below his best. Thus, the king of clay suffered one of the most brutal losses on his beloved surface, hoping for a better run in Paris.

Also, it might be Nadal's final match in Rome.

Rafael Nadal, Rome Masters 2024© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal did not play well at the Rome Masters.

He has struggled to improve his physical shape but will extend his career beyond 2024 if possible.

Hurkacz landed in 54% of the first serve. However, it did not cost him much after passing an initial struggle, defending all seven break points and keeping the pressure on the other side. Nadal served at 72% but drew nothing from that, failing to impose service winners or dictate the pace in the exchanges.

Rafa gave away almost half of the points in his games and got broken four times. Hubert controlled his strokes nicely, hitting 23 winners and ten unforced errors. Also, he added 22 service winners and outplayed Rafa from the baseline, welcoming 20 unforced errors from the Spaniard, mainly from his forehand.

Nadal fought well in the mid-range and most extended rallies. Still, he stood miles behind in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes, landing only eight service winners and struggling to embrace his patterns.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024© Dan Istitene / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafa made a promising start and created five break chances in the first game of the encounter.

Hubert stayed focused and saved them, avoiding an early setback and closing the game with a service winner. After missing his chances, Nadal faced two break points in the second game, saving them and locking the result at 1-1 after 27 minutes of grueling tennis!

The Pole produced a hold at love in the third game and stepped in on the return in the next one. He created a break chance and seized it after the Spaniard's loose drop shot, forging the advantage and moving 3-1 in front. Hubert cemented the lead with a hold in game five and made another push on the return in the next one.

Nadal played more loose strokes and sprayed another drop shot mistake, losing serve and falling 5-1 behind. Hurkacz served for the opening set in the seventh game and offered Nadal two break points.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Pole saved them and closed the set after the Spaniard's forced error, opening a 6-1 advantage after 49 minutes.

Carried by this boost, Hurkacz dropped one point behind the initial shot in the second set, forcing Nadal to follow that pace to stay in touch. Rafa closed the first game after a deuce and faced issues at 1-1. He offered Hubert a break point after a backhand mistake and fell behind after the rival's lucky net cord forehand down the line winner.

The Pole held at love in the next one with a service winner for 3-1, looking good to bring the victory home from there. They served well in the next four games, with Hubert moving 5-3 in front. Rafa served to stay in the match in game nine and suffered another break after spraying a forehand error, sending his rival over the top and experiencing a heavy loss.

"The Rome Masters turned into a disaster for me after I lost 6-1, 6-3. I feel better now, both mentally and physically. I have had one of the worst possible draws. It does not help, but I will do my best," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Rome Masters Hubert Hurkacz