Rafael Nadal philosophical after Cincinnati defeat: ‘You lose. You move forward. I know the way’

Rafael Nadal in action

Things didn’t go according to plan for Rafael Nadal during his comeback match at the Western & Southern Open, but the 22-time Grand Slam winner won’t be losing any sleep after his early exit.

Having been sidelined with an abdominal injury since early July, Nadal was hoping to get some much-needed match practice under his belt ahead of the final major of the season, the US Open, as he made his first appearance in Ohio since 2017.

However, the Spaniard was upset by world No 152 Coric in the second round as the Croatian claimed a 7-6 (11-9), 4-6, 6-3 victory on Wednesday evening to edge 3-2 ahead in his H2H with Nadal.

Although Nadal won the Cincinnati tournament in 2013, the ATP Masters 1000 event has never been a happy hunting ground for him.

“Obviously I didn’t play my best match. It’s something that can happen. Historically this tournament has been difficult for me,” the second seed said.

“So coming back from a tough period of time, it’s something that is easy to accept and easy to say congrats to Borna that he played better.”

He later added: “For some weird reason at this tournament I never had the best feelings. On the other hand, I felt very welcome here all the time.”

Nadal also lost early in his final warm-up event for the French Open, but he then went on to win a 14th title at Roland Garros while he didn’t play any tournaments on grass before reaching the semi-final at Wimbledon.

And if you go further back to the Australian Open, he missed the second half of the 2021 season due to a foot injury, but bounced back to win Down Under.

It’s a familiar story for Nadal and he knows exactly what he needs to do to be in good condition for the US Open.

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“A lot of times coming back from injuries I have done positive things, but in this particular case, it’s obvious that I was not ready enough to win the match,” he said.

“You lose. You move forward. I know the way. The main thing for me is to stay healthy. It has been a difficult injury to manage, to be honest. The last month and a half haven’t been easy because having a tear on the abdominal, you don’t know when it is 100%. So that affects a little bit in terms of not sure if you are able to try your best in every serve.”

The 36-year-old’s second-round loss also means he is no longer able to overtake Daniil Medvedev at the top of the ATP Rankings before the US Open as he needed to win the title in Cincinnati with Medvedev having to exit before the quarter-final.

Nadal, though, will have another opportunity at Flushing Meadows as he has no points to defend while Medvedev is the title holder.