RAFAEL Nadal bowed to a “super aggressive” Roger Federer for just the third time in nine grand slam finals last night, but warned of a return to his claycourt heroics.
Nadal, 30, emerged satisfied with his return from a left wrist injury despite failing to turn a 3-1 fifth-set lead over Federer into a second Australian Open and 15th overall grand slam title.
He still leads his Swiss rival 23-12 in career meetings and 9-3 in grand slam matches and will rise three spots to world No. 6 in today’s new rankings.
“I fought to try to have the trophy with me. I had some chances in the fifth with a break up, but (it) is true that after I had the break, he played very aggressive, hitting a lot of great shots.
“So was tough to hold the serve every time, no? I had the chance to keep holding the serve. If I hold that one (in sixth game), you never know. You are just two games away. But I didn’t.
“Being honest, in these kinds of matches, I won a lot of times against him. Today he beat me. (I) just congratulate him.
“Is not more than another important title for him, another important two weeks for me. Even if (it) didn’t finish the way that I wanted.”
Nadal won nine of 10 French Open titles between 2005 and 2014 before injury played a role in bringing the clay king back to the field.
He withdrew from Roland Garros before the third round last year because of his wrist issue, but is confident of following his Australian Open success with more in the coming months.
“I cannot predict what’s going on in the future. That’s always the same thing. I just think that I am playing well,” Nadal said.
“I just think that I worked hard to be where I am. I believe that playing like this, good things can happen. Can happen here in this surface, but especially can happen on clay.”
Among Nadal’s victims in the past fortnight were touted future world No. 1 Alexander Zverev, Gael Monfils, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov.
“I said before the tournament start, I felt that I was practising great. Then you need to do it on the matches, and I did,” he said.
“I (have) big personal satisfaction. I cannot say that I am sad. I wanted to win, yes, but I am not very sad. I did all the things that I could.
“I worked a lot during all these months. I keep working, and I competed well (and) I enjoyed the competition. I won against the best players of the world, and I competed well against everybody.
“That’s the most important thing for me, and that give me confidence to keep playing, and that’s what I’m going to try.”