ATP Cup 2020: Rafael Nadal discusses straight sets loss to Novak Djokovic
What's the story?
In a recent interview, Rafael Nadal has discussed his straight-sets defeat to Novak Djokovic in the ATP Cup match. Expectedly, he was unhappy about the result and his missed chances but was able to view his overall performance throughout the tournament as satisfactory.
In case you didn't know
Despite being originally billed to play in the deciding doubles match, Spain made a last-minute substitution and replaced Nadal, with the player citing fatigue as the reason he was unable to play.
The heart of the matter
Yesterday, Serbia defeated Spain in a closely contested final to win the inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney. Although Spain managed to take an early lead in the final, thanks to the efforts of Roberto Bautista-Agut, Serbia were able to rally and overturn this deficit to win the title.
The standout match of the final, and arguably the tournament, was Rafael Nadal's match against Novak Djokovic. Nadal had been fairly shaky throughout the knockout stages and Djokovic proved too much for the Spaniard and disposed of him in straight sets.
Whilst reflecting on his performances, Nadal remarked that he was happy the way he was able to compete. He then added,
“I had my chances. I was very close. Not happy with the loss, of course, but the feeling in that second set is positive”.
With the Australian Open soon approaching, there are two main things to take from Nadal's performances at the ATP Cup. Firstly, he looked tired throughout the knockout stages and may still be harbouring a hangover from the arduous 2019 season that saw him win 2 Grand Slams and finish the year as World No.1.
Secondly, he was shaky against some of the better players in the competition and lost twice in the knockout stages. It would be wrong to say these two points are mutually exclusive, as, in all likelihood, his apparent fatigue caused this unreliable form.
Due to Nadal's physical style of tennis, fatigue has often hampered the Spaniard over the last couple of years. His main objective in the lead up to the Australian Open will be rest, it wasn't his tennis per se that let him down in the ATP Cup, but more so his body. Given the gruelling nature of Grand Slam tennis, this will be a huge factor in Nadal's chance to win his first Australian Open in over 10 years.