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Rafael Nadal won two Grand Slam titles this year, despite overcoming a litany of injuries, but following his fourth-round defeat at the U.S. Open on Monday night, the Spanish tennis star seemed to suggest that he may take some time away to better prepare himself.
Nadal’s 22-match winning streak at Grand Slam tournaments came to an end after his 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to American Frances Tiafoe. After the match, Nadal commended his opponent for being the “better” player.
“The difference is easy, I played a bad match and he played a good match. At the end, that’ it.”
“I was not able to hold a high level of tennis for a long time,” Nadal continued. “I was not quick enough in my movement. He was able to take the ball too many times very early, so I was not able to push him back. Tennis is a sport of position a lot of times. If not, you need to be very, very quick and very young. I am not in that moment anymore.”
“Well done for him, he was better than me.”
Nadal went on to suggest that he may take time away to analyze his game.
“I need to go back,” Nadal said. “I need to fix things, life, and then I don’t know when I am going to come back. I am going to try to be ready mentally. When I feel that I will be ready to compete again, I will be there.”
Nadal declined to say that his recent injuries contributed to his loss on Monday night, calling the Australian Open and French Open “unexpected” wins as he similarly did not have the “perfect preparations” ahead of those tournaments as well.
“We can’t find excuses. We need to be enough [of a] critic with myself. That’s the only way to improve. That’s the only way I understand that you are able to find solutions.
“I had been practicing well the week before, honestly. But then, when the competition started, my level went down. That’s the truth. For some reason, I don’t know, mental issues in terms of a lot of things happened the last couple of months. Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. In the end, the only thing that happened is we went to the fourth round of the U.S. Open and I faced a player that was better than me. And that’s why I am having a plane back home.”
Nick Kyrgios eliminated No. 1 seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev on Sunday, making this the first U.S. Open without either of the top two seeded men reaching the quarterfinals since 2000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.