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Nadal Positive After Djokovic Final Loss In Melbourne

Rafael Nadal may have fallen short in his bid to become the first man to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice in the Open Era, but the Spaniard remained upbeat after his straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.
The 2009 champion had advanced to his fifth Australian Open championship match (1-4) in fine form, winning each of his six previous matches in straight sets to advance to his seventh Grand Slam final without dropping a set. But the 17-time Grand Slam winner proved no match for Djokovic, who captured a record-breaking seventh Australian Open crown after two hours and four minutes.
“I had a great two weeks, being honest, I can’t be sad,” said Nadal. “[It would] be not fair to be sad. I played against a player that today was better than me. [There is] no doubt about that. That’s all… [These] have been two positive weeks.
“The only thing, probably, that I need is time and more matches. My feeling was I have been always in offensive positions during [these] two weeks, during six matches. Today, I knew that would not happen. Of course, he played better than during the rest of the tournament… Playing that well, it is so difficult for everybody… when he plays that level, it is so difficult to fight for victories against him.”
Nadal was full of praise for the World No. 1, who commited just nine unforced errors throughout the match to lift his third straight Grand Slam trophy. Djokovic now owns a 28-25 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the Spaniard, who was aiming to close the gap on Roger Federer in the all-time list for most Grand Slam titles. Last year at Melbourne Park, Federer lifted his 20th major trophy with a five-set win over Marin Cilic.
“Of course, he played fantastic,” said Nadal. “At the same time, it is true that when he is playing that way, I think I need something else. I was not able to have that extra thing tonight.
“It was unbelievable the way that he played, no doubt about that. But at the same time it is true that probably physically I was not able. I played fantastic tennis during both weeks, but probably playing that well, I didn’t suffer much during both weeks. Five months without competing, having that big challenge in front of me, I needed something else.”
The Australian Open marked Nadal’s long-awaited return to tour-level action, following knee and abdomen injuries, as well as ankle surgery, after his US Open semi-final retirement against Juan Martin del Potro in September 2018. Nadal had originally planned to open his 2019 ATP Tour season at the Brisbane International, but a left thigh strain forced the 32-year-old to withdraw from the tournament and arrive in Melbourne with no tour-level match practice.
“I practised well, very well I think, but because of the things that happened to me in terms of surgery… I was not able to work that much [on my] defensive game,” said Nadal. “I worked a lot on the offensive game, but not that much on the defensive game.
“To play against a player like him, playing the way he played tonight, I needed that defensive game to finally have the chance to be offensive. When he was hitting, it is true that maybe it was difficult to beat him even if I was at my 100 per cent. But, probably, it will be a little bit more [of a] fight.”
With the past five months taken into consideration, Nadal will now look ahead to the rest of the 2019 ATP Tour season with a positive outlook on his ability to compete for the biggest titles in the sport. The former World No. 1 will take some time to consider his schedule in the coming months, with plans in place to return to action at the 2019 Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco.
“From my side [I am] very happy, [I have a] big personal satisfaction about the two weeks, you can’t imagine… I have been going through very tough moments… Even if tonight was not my day, because the opponent played too good, and I was not ready to face that level tonight. But I believe that I can be ready in a couple of months if I am able to keep practising and to keep competing at that level.”
Source: ATP World Tour

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