Despite Defeat, Rafa Happy With Form & Semi-final Chances
It’s not often a player feels better about his game after a loss. But that’s exactly what Rafael Nadal admitted on Tuesday after losing two tie-breaks against reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem at the Nitto ATP Finals.
“Just well done to Dominic. I'm happy with the way I played,” Nadal said. “I think my chances are bigger to have a very good result now than [they were] five days ago because the level of tennis — even if I lost today — for me is much higher.”
Nadal didn’t play a sloppy match full of errors. Thiem simply overpowered him in the key moments. The Spaniard was able to appreciate that the Austrian was simply better on the day.
“[It was] a great match of tennis decided [by] a few small details. Just well done to him. He played I think an amazing match, and I played well, too,” Nadal said. “My feeling is not negative. I lost, but I had plenty of chances in the first and then I had a break up in the second.”
Watch Nadal vs Thiem Highlights
The only thing the Spaniard could pick out from his performance was failing to convert a 5/2 lead in the first-set tie-break. Since he did not lose because he played poorly, the lefty walked off Centre Court generally pleased with his level.
“I think I did all the things well during the match. Just the only negative thing [is that] I was not able to convert some key points that made the biggest difference in the whole match,” Nadal said. “Of course [I am] sad for the loss, but at the same time [I am] happy for Dominic that he played a great match. I hope to have my chances. I think I am much more confident now with the level of tennis that I am playing than a couple of days ago. So I just have the chance to keep going, and that's what I’m going to do.”
Nadal is still in contention for a semi-final spot at The O2. He will play Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is also 1-1 in Group London 2020 play, on Thursday. The World No. 2 is still pursuing his first Nitto ATP Finals title, and he believes that if he is able to bring his best to the court, he will have opportunities to succeed.
“I don't want to pretend to be arrogant at all, because I am not,” Nadal said. “But I really don't need to show even to myself or to no one that if I am playing my best tennis, I think I can win in every surface and against any player.
“But I never won in the [Nitto ATP] Finals. That's the real thing at the same time. So no problem about that. I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.”