Rafael Nadal hints at extended break: ‘I need to fix things, life, then I don’t know when I’m going to come back’

Rafael Nadal in action

It was a bad day at the office for Rafael Nadal as he went down against Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round of the US Open and the Spaniard has admitted that he is not too sure when he will be back in action.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner suffered his first defeat in majors this year as he failed to keep up with the excellent Tiafoe throughout the match, going down 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in three hours and 32 minutes.

Nadal finishes the 2022 Slam season 22-1 as he won the Australian Open and French Open and reached the semi-final of Wimbledon before withdrawing from his match due to an abdominal injury. He added another three wins to the tally at Flushing Meadows.

But he admitted he was simply unable to match younger Tiafoe’s high-octane display on Monday evening with his movement among the things that were not up to standard.

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“The difference is easy: I played a bad match and he played a good match,” the former world No 1 said.

“I was not able to hold a high level of tennis for a long time. I was not quick enough in my movements. 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 any more. Well done for him. He was better than me.”

He added: “We can’t find excuses. I have been practising well the week before, honestly. But then when the competition started, my level went down. For some reason, I don’t know, mental issues in terms of a lot of things that happened the last couple of months, maybe.”

After winning his 14th title at French Open, Nadal took some time out to recover from his chronic foot problem and he also missed several weeks of action after pulling out of the Wimbledon semi-final.

He only played one warm-up tournament before the US Open – losing his opening match at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

He is due to feature at the Laver Cup in London later in September, but it remains to be seen if he will play as he is eager to spend more time with his wife who is expecting their first child while he also need to “fix things”.

“I need to go back,” he said. “I need to fix things, life, then I don’t know when I’m going to come back. I’m going to try to be ready mentally. When I feel that I will be ready to compete again, I will be there.”

It won’t be a big surprise if Nadal opts to end his 2022 season prematurely as he also missed the big chucks of the second half of last season – including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open – to recover from injury.