"..It was a bad day today. The opponent play well. That's it," Rafael Nadal areplied during the press conference on his loss to Alexander Zverev at the Nitto ATP opening round in London. The best thing for Nadal in his comeback after his retirement of the Paris Masters' semifinal was he had no pain.
Everything else was a struggle at finding his rhythm over Zverev. The other positive was that the tournament is a round robin and after a defeat you wouldn't have to pack your rackets and go, but re-group on how you'd play the next match.
The NextGen brought with him a huge serve that hit on precision areas Nadal just couldn't defy. Zverev was becoming too good for Nadal and as the first set slowly evolved, the Spaniard put forth many errors, building the young German's confidence to keep the pressure on.
He'd go up 5-2 in the opening set and it was pretty much Zverev's set. The aggression stayed around for the second set and with him ripping balls down the line and finding the open court, damage was severely done to any strategy the Spaniard might have had.
Nadal had started to find some winning marksin the second set, but it wasn't enough. There was an ace and a few good points the Spaniard had as he trailed 2-4 but Zverev continually pounded shots all over the court giving Nadal any breaks.
The no. 1 ranked player wasn't looking much like one as he scurried to not only return shots, but make winners. Despite a few errors on the young German's part, he played most times with perfection and it was no winning over him in the first round at Nitto where he dismantled Nadal 6-2, 6-4.
The mood during the press conference was a battle as the media tried to dig up reasons for the Spaniard's lackluster game. He tried blaming it on Nadal's recent wedding of which he took it serious and returned inquiries with stinging replies.
But in keeping it real, Nadal mentioned his recent injuries first of his hand ailments and then the abdominal injury, saying "..I was not able to hold the regular practices the way that I would like." The Spaniard mentioned that before the Nitto, he did play well enough to win matches, much better than now.
He won the Rogers Cup and the U.S. Open titles off of Daniil Medvedev. The Laver Cup, Nadal defeated Milos Raonic and at the Paris Masters before his abdominal ailment he'd win over Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. In a typical Nadal fashion he knows it's a must to come up with the right shots at the right time to win over his opponents.
Health is a major factor but he may be fighting a deeper battle and that is the opponents who are playing superior tennis and coming up with more answers on court than himself. The Spaniard had also commented on his match with Zverev saying, "We can think and we can find reasons or can find excuses...as I say before...he was much better than me tonight and I was not enough good."