World No. 1 and Indian Wells defending champion Rafael Nadal suffered his earliest defeat at the BNP Paribas Open in the last decade when he lost a thrilling three-set battle to top-ranked Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. While the loss was a disappointment to Rafa, who is yet to ever defend a hard court title, he is adamant that the loss had nothing to do with his back injury at the Australian Open.
“Forget about the back. I don’t want to talk about the back anymore because my back is fine. The bad feelings were with my forehand and backhand,” Nadal said “When you are on the limit this thing can happen. You can lose, I lost today. Congratulate him. He played I think better than me. That’s it, life continues.”
Nadal explained that the issue has not simply been his serves, but was more about his baseline shots, where he was committing most of his errors.
“I had enough breaks to win the match, but I didn’t play enough well from the baseline then to be solid with my serve,” he said. “Is not a problem with my serve. Was more problem with my baseline shots. I didn’t go for the points. I played with too many mistakes. When you are playing a player like Dolgopolov, the way to stop him and the way that I really bother him is when I am solid all the time, playing long, playing high. When I play a high ball and the ball comes short, I go for the point and try to hit a winner and I open the court all the time.”
The top seed elaborated further on his issues with hitting winners from the baseline, admitting that he felt like a “normal player” this week instead of his usual self.
“So he’s in trouble, no, if I play defensive, if I play short, if I hit good ball. But when the ball comes back short I am not able to have the winner or to play a shot that gonna give me that advantage. So then then I become a really normal player. I am not anymore a great player. I am a great player when I am doing these kind of things. These kind of things I am not doing the last two days.
“So when I am not doing these kind of things, I am not that good player. I become a normal player. That’s it.”
The Spaniard has no interest in dwelling on the loss, but instead will focus his sights on the Miami Masters – one of the few Masters 1000 title that has eluded him throughout his career.
“It’s impossible to be in the final of a tournament every single week. I did it for the first three tournaments of the year that I played.” he added. “I’m going to try to rest for a few days and be fresh mentally, and I hope to be ready for Miami,”