"I can't be sad...I played against a player that today was better than me..." Rafael Nadal has said after bowing in three straight sets to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open final. Many believed the result should always end in victory but this may be just wishful thinking.
Nadal's previous year was sprinkled with wins and losses in the grand slam column. In the 2018 Australian Open he wasn't in the picture, out because of a knee injury. Roger Federer and Marin Cilic was left to duke it out in a five-set battle with Federer defending and winning the title again.
Nadal missed the Australian Open but capitalized on winning the French Open in three straight sets over Austria's Dominic Thiem. The grass season at Wimbledon was a loss to Nadal in the semis in the hands of Novak Djokovic.
The annoying tendinitis in his knees was the answer for Nadal retiring to Juan Martin del Potro at the U.S. Open final after the second set. It was devastating in both ways as to not only do poorly in performance but injured too.
"It's not about losing. It's about not having the chance to fight for it," Nadal had explained. He rested and recuperated for five months until this year's Australian Open arrived. The Melbourne event with the comeback Serbian Novak Djokovic really performed in excellence to Rafael Nadal's lacklustre gamesmanship.
The Spaniard's loss in three straight sets had upset the tennis community almost more than it did himself. The Serbian knew about destiny and anguish from injury, for he was just getting his groove back from elbow surgery and felt like the blessed one also questioning his future saying "I am aware that making history of the sport that I truly love is something special...how many (more) seasons are to come? I don't know.
I'm not trying to think too much in advance." Nadal admits that not playing in five months was his major downfall to the poor performance he'd shown. He explained about Djokovic's game saying "When he's playing that way, I needed something else...I was not able to have that extra thing tonight..."
It might have been assumed by many that Nadal hadn't dropped a set the entire tournament and then to lose in straight sets in the final was unreal. But things happen and it's assured Rafa will do all in his power to not allow it to develop again.
He might be under the pressure and radar now, to put it all out there but he says at the press conference that "I need matches but I can't go crazy to play matches...I have my age, I have my calendar, I have my priorities and my priorities now is to come back home and have some rest and play good tennis...my next stop is Acapulco."