Away from the Grand Slam tournaments, the generational change in men's tennis has already begun a few years ago. What happened in the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo is a further confirmation of this. Novak Djokovic left the scene already in the second round at the hands of the revelation Dan Evans, who took advantage of the bad day of the number 1 ATP from every point of view.
The Belgrade champion himself admitted at a press conference that he had played one of the worst matches of his career on clay. The next day Rafael Nadal, eleven times champion in the Principality, left the tournament, surrendering in three sets to a wild Andrey Rublev.
The Spaniard also paid dearly for a return well below the sufficiency, especially in the serve and with the backhand. However, some clarifications must be made: both Nole and Rafa were returning to the circuit after more than two months, as both had played their last tournament at the Australian Open.
Speaking to reporters after the marathon with Rublev ended in the spotlight, the 34-year-old from Manacor pointed out how too much emphasis is placed in the face of the defeats of the Big 3 (Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic).
Rafael Nadal says competition in men’s tennis is intense
“Me, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have been losing very little for many years and so every time we lose, it’s a big news,” Rafael Nadal said.
The current World No.1 and the reigning Australian Open champion fell to a shock straight-set loss to British No.1 Dan Evans. “Each week, only one player wins and the others lose,” the Spaniard added. While speaking to the media after the shock loss, Rafael Nadal heaped praise on the young Russian before diving deep into his own play.
"When you face a great player like him and you don’t play well, you should lose, no?" Rafael Nadal said. "For some reason, I had problems with my serve. I don't know understand why because I was not having problems with the practices at all.
But today was one of these days that my serve was a disaster." The World No. 3 struggled to get out of tough situations on his own serve, which he claimed put more pressure on him from the baseline. "Serving like this, the serve creates an impact on the rest of the game," Nadal said.
"When you serve with no confidence, you are just focusing on try to serve, not think about how you want to play the ball."