“I don’t feel that I am that far” – Nadal remains upbeat despite back-to-back losses to begin 2023 season

Nadal was beaten by Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur in the round robin matches at the United Cup

Rafael Nadal at the 2023 United Cup Rafael Nadal at the 2023 United Cup Image Credit: United Cup

Rafael Nadal may have lost the first two matches of the new season but the Spaniard feels he is not far from his best as he now heads to Melbourne to defend the Australian Open title he won 12 months ago in the most unexpected fashion.

Playing for Spain in the newly created United Cup, Nadal was beaten in three sets by Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Saturday and then by Australia’s Alex de Minaur on Monday. However, the Spaniard was happy to get almost six hours of court time and feels he is not from his best.

“I need hours on court. I need battles like this. Didn’t play much official matches the last six months, almost seven,” Nadal said after his loss to de Minaur. “Days like these two helps. Of course with victories the process is faster, but I need to keep fighting. That’s it. For moments I played very good level of tennis. Playing very good with the backhand. Changing directions with the forehand. Then again some good points in the third. Some chances but some mistakes, too. That’s it. I need to keep fighting. Need to keep finding the rhythm.”

“I have two weeks before the Australian Open start. I can’t say that the situation is ideal, but at the same time, I can’t say that it’s very negative, because for moments I was playing good. I think that two matches is going to help me. I need to win couple of matches. But the level was not that bad. Putting in perspective that I arrived needing a little bit more time.”

“Physically was not that bad” – Nadal

Nadal refused to raise the alarm bells after his latest loss, which was also his sixth loss in his last seven matches on the tour dating back to the 2022 US Open.

“I am going to work hard these two weeks to be physically better. In terms of tennis, probably playing sets and practicing for the next two weeks with good guys, I think that can help me to be more consistent. That’s what I gonna look for,” Nadal said. “Honestly, I am not too alarmed, too negative about what happened. I think was a real chance to lose these kind of matches. Last year I lost two matches in Abu Dhabi, and that’s it. I take like I had my chance against two great players. Not able to convert it. That says that having an important room to improve, and I really believe that I can do it. I was very close to win against two great players.”

“Physically was not that bad. I need to, as I said the other day, I need to be a little bit faster, a little bit more dynamic on court, to read a little bit better the ball. That gives you the confidence, the hours on court, playing matches, and that’s it. In terms of physical issues, I can’t complain. Happy for that. That helps a lot to keep going. And that’s it, no. I just believe that the situation is how it is, and I have to improve. That’s it, no. I really believe it gonna happen. When, I don’t know. But I really hope that it gonna happen soon, because I don’t feel that I am that far.”

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