Nadal hints at extended break after US Open exit


NEW YORK: Rafa Nadal said he had to “put things right” and was unsure about his return to competitive tennis after his bid for a record-extending 23rd men’s Grand Slam title in the fourth round of the US Open on Monday ended.

American Frances Tiafoe, who had lost both previous encounters to the 36-year-old left-hander, stunned the second seed in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It was Nadal’s first tournament at Flushing Meadows since he clinched his fourth US Open title in 2019 and he arrived at the hard-court major without much match practice or doubts about his fitness.

“I have to go back,” Nadal said, crediting his 24-year-old opponent for being the better player that day.

“I have to fix things, life, then I don’t know when I’ll come back. I’ll try to be mentally ready. When I feel like I’ll be ready to compete again, I’ll be there be.”

Nadal, who is expecting his first child with his wife Mery Perello later this year, is set to compete for Team Europe alongside his big rivals Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray during the Laver Cup in London on September 23-25.

The Mallorcan added the Australian Open and French Open to his list of big titles in 2022 but the season has also been marred by a spate of injuries.

Nadal arrived in Melbourne after five months without a competitive game but then went on a 20-match winning streak, a streak that included victory at the Australian Open.

He won a record-breaking 14th French Open title and played with a painkiller injection before every game to help cope with a chronic foot injury.

Nadal’s run at Wimbledon ended when he was forced to withdraw ahead of a semi-final match against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios after suffering an abdominal injury.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said it was a “miracle” that Nadal won two Majors during the year.

“It’s a miracle that he won two Grand Slams this year and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon,” said Eurosport tennis expert Wilander, adding that Nadal just didn’t play enough tennis ahead of the US Open campaign.

“If you look at his year, he’s actually won two Grand Slams in his regular season – that’s incredible.

“It wasn’t expected but I think the players know when Rafa isn’t at 100 per cent.”


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