‘I was not nervous!‘: Nadal refutes Australian Open anxiety after jittery performance Rafael Nadal has refused to blame his uncharacteristically sluggish start to Sunday‘s Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic on nerves, saying instead that his opponent kept him on the back foot throughout the match.
Sunday‘s final at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne was billed as a razor-thin contest between the world‘s top two male players but just two hours and four minutes after it began, Novak Djokovic claimed his record 7th Australian Open title as he swept past the Spaniard in straight sets.
The signs were apparent early that it wasn‘t to be Nadal‘s day. He dropped his first service game en route to a 6-3 defeat in the opening set – the first set that Nadal had dropped in the tournament to that point.
When it was all said and done, the history books will have recorded a dominant win for Djokovic but speaking with the media following the match, Nadal was keen to refute suggestions nerves were responsible for his under-par performance on the court.
“I make more mistakes because he pushed more. That‘s all. It’s not about being more nervous,” Nadal explained to the media following the match.
“I have been normal nerves, like final of Grand Slam. But the things started so quick,” he said with a snap of his fingers.
“He was pushing me to every ball. What on other days have been a serve and a ball that I can have in offensive position, today have been in defensive position. That‘s not nerves. That‘s things that happened quicker than what happened the previous days.
“But answering what you say, I was not [nervous], not more nerves than usual, no.”
Despite the one-sided nature of the final, Nadal maintains that he was pleased with his overall performance in the Grand Slam tournament, particularly as it came in the wake of ankle and thigh problems which have plagued him since last year.
“It‘s been a very emotional two weeks, even if tonight wasn‘t my best day. It has been a very important two weeks,” Nadal continued.
“I have been going through tough moments. Since the US Open I was not able to play a professional match. For me it‘s so important to be where I am today again coming back from injury. I really believe that I played a great two weeks of tennis.”
Maybe he even played too well in the early stages of the competition, he said, adding that he probably wasn‘t challenged as much as he might have been in the earlier rounds of the competition and that he wasn‘t at his battle-hardened best for the final as a result.
“It was unbelievable the way that he played, no doubt about that,” he explained. “I played fantastic tennis during both weeks, but probably playing that well, I didn‘t suffer much during both weeks.
“Five months without competing, having that big challenge in front of me, I needed something else. That something else probably today, I don‘t have it yet, to compete at this super high level.”