Rafael Nadal: ‘Roger Federer beat me at Wimbledon, and I lost only once after that’

Rafael Nadal will not play in the rest of the season, struggling with a foot injury and staying on two ATP titles. The Spaniard has failed to win a Major for the first time since 2017, doing his best at the last year’s Roland Garros but not repeating that in the current season due to injuries and lack of form. Nadal has not been at his best since the start of the pandemic at the beginning of 2020, barely winning a couple of titles and losing a couple of ranking positions to the younger opponents. Unlike in the last two seasons, Nadal was at his best in 2019, winning two Major titles and finishing the season as world no. 1 for the fifth time. Things did not look good for the Spaniard at some of his favorite events, suffering three semi-final losses during his beloved clay swing in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. After Stefanos Tsitsipas loss at Caja Magica in May, Rafa was over 4000 points behind Novak Djokovic on the ATP ranking list, not even thinking of catching the Serb by the end of the year.

With only 900 points under his belt from Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid combined, Nadal had to react quickly and deliver his best tennis in Rome and Roland Garros to stay in touch with the Serb in the battle for the ATP throne. As we all know, the Spaniard claimed the first titles of the season at mentioned events, adding 3000 points to his tally and standing in a much better position ahead of Wimbledon, where he reached the semi-final for the second year in a row. Novak Djokovic claimed the title at the All England Club, and it seemed the battle for the year-end no. 1 spot was sealed, as the Serb gathered almost 4500 points more than the closest rival. Rafa lost that Wimbledon semi-final to Roger Federer, and that would be his penultimate defeat in 2019. The Spaniard embraced a rock-solid run in the remaining events to pass the Serb and complete the season with the fifth year-end no. 1 honor in his impressive biography!

Rafael Nadal spoke about his incredible second part of the 2019 season.

Like in Rome and Paris, Rafa claimed back-to-back Masters 1000 and a Major crown in Montreal and the US Open, becoming the firm leader on the ATP Race and looking good to close the season as world no. 1. Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev in both finals, giving 120% to oust the Russian in New York in five sets for his 19th Major crown and standing one behind Roger Federer. Nadal delivered one victory at the Laver Cup and skipped the Shanghai Masters, returning in Paris where he reached the semis before withdrawing from the clash against Denis Shapovalov.

Heading to the ATP Finals, Rafa suffered the first loss since Wimbledon in the opening round-robin match to Alexander Zverev. It was one of the worst performances for the Spaniard in 2019 and his seventh and final loss. Hoping for a better run against Daniil Medvedev, the Spaniard bounced back from 5-1 down in the deciding set to overpower the Russian and add 200 points to his tally. Rafa defeated Tsitsipas in the last round-robin clash to leave London with 400 points and the year-end no. 1 honor, as he and Novak Djokovic failed to reach the semis. Determined to give his best in front of the home crowd in Madrid, Rafa claimed five singles victories at the Davis Cup Finals to lead Spain towards the title, earning eight triumphs in total and closing a memorable season on a high note. 

“I’m an emotional person. That said, I went very low mentally in 2019 and recovered to reach my top level. I played well since Madrid in the middle of May; after Wimbledon, I lost only one match to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals, which is incredible,” Rafael Nadal said.