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Rafael Nadal leaves China with a second runner-up finish at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Nadal: Federer Was Simply Better Today

Spaniard earns 11th and 12th Top 10 wins of 2017 in Shanghai

Rafael Nadal lost an opportunity to earn his first Shanghai Rolex Masters title on Sunday against Roger Federer and a chance to extend his 16-match winning streak. But after capturing titles at the US Open and last week's China Open, the Spaniard was not devastated.

“I played a fantastic tournament, having very good wins. Very pleased the way I played the whole Asian tour for me, whole China tour. Beijing, Shanghai have been a very positive two weeks for me,” Nadal said. “A lot of points, a lot of victories against great opponents. I come back with very good personal satisfaction the way that I played.”

Nadal earned his 11th and 12th victories of the season against the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings this week in Shanghai, beating No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals before ousting No. 5 Marin Cilic in the semis. But sometimes an opponent simply plays too well on a given day. And while Nadal was disappointed to lose his third final of the year against Federer, all he could do is give his rival his due.

“When somebody plays better than you, sport is not very difficult,” Nadal said. “When you play against somebody that is better than you in most of the things that really matters on this sport in this kind of surface, then it's tougher. There is room to improve for me, and I’m going to try. But the conditions here were much better for him than for me, being honest.”

Federer broke in the first game of the match and never looked back, going through the 71-minute clash without facing break point himself. The Swiss dropped just eight points on serve.

“He played so well, I think,” Nadal admitted. “Yeah, I could do maybe some things better, but that's it. Just he played too good. That's my point of view. So congrats to him.”

The loss does not take away from what has been a resurgent 2017 for Nadal, winning two Grand Slams, two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, six titles overall and reclaiming the top spot in the rankings as he seeks to finish atop the standings for the first time since 2013, and the fourth time in his career. The 31 year old still leads Federer by 1,960 points in the rankings.

Nadal was unable to win for the first time in Shanghai, but it was not for lack of effort.

“I just play every tournament with as high motivation as possible. Would not be fair I play here with higher motivation than in Monte-Carlo because I didn't win here and I won in Monte-Carlo 10 times,” Nadal said. “Every time I go on court I try my best. I try to play as good as I can. Sometimes I play better; sometimes I play worse. That's all. Shanghai is an important event. I always put attention in this event. It’s true that I was not able to play as good as I would like here that often, but I already play two finals, couple of semi-finals. So was not a bad event.”

Despite Sunday's loss, Nadal has proven he is in good form and will look to take that into the final month of the season to finish 2017 on a high note.