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Rafael Nadal falls to 1-1 in his ATP Head2Head series with Taylor Fritz.

Nadal Praises Fritz, Admits Pain: 'I Tried 'Til The End'

Spaniard reflects on Indian Wells final, first loss of 2022

Rafael Nadal made it very clear that his loss in the BNP Paribas Open final was a credit to Taylor Fritz’s performance above all else. However, the Spaniard admitted that he struggled with an injury in his first loss of the 2022 season (20-1).

“I had pain, honestly. I had problems breathing. I don't know if it's something on the rib, I don't know yet. When I'm breathing, when I'm moving it's like a needle all the time inside here. I get dizzy a little bit because it's painful,” Nadal said. “It's a kind of pain that limits me a lot. It’s not only about pain, I don't feel very well because [it] affects my breathing.

“[It is] more than [being] sad for the loss, [that is] something that I accepted immediately, and even before the match ended. It's more about that I am suffering a little bit, honestly.”

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There were signs of trouble for the Spaniard towards the end of his three-set battle against countryman Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals. During that match, he received a visit from an ATP physiotherapist. 

“I tried my best. Of course, [it has] not been my day. But that happens. I have experience in all these situations. So in the moment, of course, it’s tough to play a final like this. [I] tried ’til the end. That's it,” Nadal said. “Even [though] I had my chances in the second set, I didn't convert too many chances. That's it. I think it's a difficult match to analyse personally from my side because I was not able to do many things.”

Nadal later added: “It’s not the moment to talk about that, honestly. Even if it's obvious that I was not able to do the normal things today... That's it. It's a final. I tried. I lost against a great player.”

Two years ago in the Acapulco final, Nadal lost just five games against Fritz. The lefty was highly complimentary of the strides the American has been making.

“Victories like today help. He played well. He went through some great matches during this week I think, especially yesterday. A lot of credit to him on the victory of yesterday. In my opinion, his victory of yesterday is much bigger than his victory of today because he had [a] much tougher opponent in front yesterday,” Nadal said. “He already played great matches in Australia, this year if I'm not wrong, against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas.

“It's obvious that he is improving. With this victory, it's a great start of the season for him. He will have chance to be very close if not in the Top 10 very soon.”

Despite the loss, it has been a tremendous start to the season for Nadal, whose 20-match winning streak to begin the year was a personal-best. He has already captured three titles in 2022, including his 21st Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open.

“Honestly, I wanted to make it perfect before clay. [It] has been very, very, very beautiful. Honestly I am sad because the way I was not able to compete. It’s tough to have these feelings... But in the final it’s very, very ugly,” Nadal said. “But in sport it’s not about talking of the past. We need to talk about today. And today is a difficult day for me.”

Nadal will now turn his attention to the clay-court season. The 35-year-old has captured 62 tour-level titles on the surface, and he will look to add more over the next few months.

“I am not [the] kind of person that goes down or goes very high emotionally depending on the moment. I am normally stable, putting everything in perspective,” Nadal said. “Of course, the past two months have have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional. I enjoyed things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.

“Now is the moment to try to solve this problem as soon as possible, try to start on clay. Practising starts another part of the season that I enjoy to play. Of course, every single event is so special for me. I hope to be ready for it.”

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