World No. 2 Rafael Nadal didn't end up with the result he wanted at the Madrid Masters but still he is leaving the tournament in positive spirits. Nadal, seeded at No. 1, suffered a shock quarterfinal loss to Alexander Zverev as the German won 6-4 6-4.
"I’m leaving Madrid with an overall positive feeling, but at the same time with the ugly feeling of having played a match like this today against a great player,” Nadal admitted in his post-match press conference, per the ATP website.
“I think for most of the first set, I was playing better than him. And this is the negative part; while playing better than him in the first set, I still lost 6-4. “This is very difficult to understand, especially for me.
When this happens to me, it’s usually in the opposite way – I find a way to win sets even though I’m not playing my best or as good as the opponent”.
Nadal had a lead
Nadal led 4-2 after the opening six games but then his game fell apart as Zverev earned back-to-back breaks to overturn the deficit and win the opener.
"I felt like I was playing better for much of the first set, but after a couple of errors – unjustifiable errors at the worst times – I found myself down a set,” Nadal said. “The outlook of the match changed there, both for me and for him.
I knew then that a lot of suffering was waiting for me [in the second set], and for him, the knowledge that he just took a huge step forward during the match”. Zverev's big serve played a big role in the German's win.
"It’s not that I wasn’t able to find my ‘minimum level’, it’s that you’re playing against someone whose serve gets you into big trouble,” Nadal said. “Every serve goes above 220, so in conditions like these I have to return like six metres behind the baseline and even then I’m still hitting the returns at shoulder height”.
Nadal is hoping to win the Rome Masters and enter the French Open in style. "Where the clay season stands is very simple: quarters, champion and quarters. And now comes Rome,” Nadal assessed. “That's all there is.
I’ve been able to reach quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo, win in Barcelona and reach quarter-finals here, and I feel like I’ve been moving forward.
“We’ll see what happens in Rome. For me, the objective before Roland-Garros is to go to Rome and win it. That’s the truth”.