Nadal: I'm On The Right Track
Spaniard not letting defeat to Verdasco knock his confidence
The surprise of the Australian Open so far came on Tuesday night when Rafael Nadal suffered his first opening-round exit at Melbourne Park at the hands of Fernando Verdasco in a dramatic five-set contest. But as Nadal exclusively told EL ESPAÑOL before returning home to Mallorca, he won’t be letting this defeat undo all the hard work he has put in.
"It's a tough loss," said Nadal. "But you go out to compete knowing you can win or you can lose. This is something I've always been aware of throughout my career. But I had trained well and I had trained a lot. For a while now I've been training much more than I was able to before, when physically I just couldn't. When you've worked so hard, you feel like you've done everything right, and the match doesn't go your way...
"I know that I'm doing everything right. The work has been done,” continued the 29 year old. “The defeat on Tuesday doesn't change that. I am well and I hope to continue like this moving forward. Yes, I lost to Djokovic in the Doha final, but I'm on the right track. I'm going to try to continue this way and put the Verdasco match behind me. It's a difficult defeat at the moment, but in a few weeks I'll be competing again. I have to keep up the hard work to be ready.
As he looks to rebuild for his next few tournaments, beginning in Rio de Janeiro on 15 February, Nadal is determined to stay positive. "It's a Grand Slam and it's painful, of course, but I can't ignore reality. Neither a victory nor a defeat can make you lose perspective. The defeat against Verdasco can't take that away from me. Since Beijing I've been playing at quite a high level. My results between Beijing and the end of the season were final, semi-final (Shanghai), final (Basel), quarter-final (Paris) and semi-final (Barclays ATP World Tour Finals) in difficult tournaments. And 2016 started with another final in Doha.
“The past few months have been a consistently high level and the level I hope to be at. This defeat is stumbling block that I have to accept in this good spell. I do accept it and I will try to get back on the right track.
"My philosophy in life, not just in sport, is that things won't go well without effort and hard work. The truth is that I lost a match that I was close to winning. Maybe normally I would have won it and now I would be in the second round, looking forward and thinking that I'm playing well, ready to have a good tournament."
In addition, Nadal also spoke of the importance of mental strength when playing, and feels he has improved in that regard since last year. "Of course you can lose matches with your head. You can also win matches that way, obviously. But you can't win 14 Grand Slams with your head. The only way to win them is having the shots that allow you to do so. When you find yourself up against a player at his highest level, and you are at your limit, your head has an impact. When you're poor mentally, you lose matches. Last year I showed that."
The World No. 5 finished by reiterating that he is content with the work he is doing and the way his game is progressing. "I like what I do," said Nadal. "I'm happy and I feel fortunate. I know that what I'm doing isn't for life, it has an expiry date and I don't know what that is. So I'm going to try and get the most out of it. I want my last years on tour to be successful, but above all to be successful on a personal level. The way to get that satisfaction is to do whatever I can so that things go as well as possible."