Nadal following Cincinnati loss to Coric: “I need to start to be in Grand Slam mode”

In his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals because of an abdominal injury, Rafael Nadal lost to Borna Coric 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3 in round two of the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday night.

For Nadal, though, there is little cause for concern with the U.S. Open on the immediate horizon. One, the 35-year-old has almost always fared poorly–by his standards–in Cincinnati (aside from winning the title in 2013). Two, he is optimistic that he is improving from a physical standpoint.

“Well, obviously I didn’t play my best match,” Nadal admitted. “(That is) something that can happen. Historically this tournament has been difficult for me. 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. That’s it. Just well done to him.

“It’s true that this tournament hasn’t been the easiest for me during all my tennis career, even if I was able to win one year. But (that) was the year that I was achieving almost everything…. I don’t know, for some weird reason this tournament, I never had the best feelings.”

The story is different in New York, where the Spaniard is a four-time champion. Nadal thinks he will be ready to go for No. 5.

“In terms of New York, it’s a Grand Slam; it’s a different kind of tournament…. I know the way that I have to do to gain a different condition. I’m going to have already two weeks and a half on the tour practicing with the guys, something that I was not able to [have] before [this tournament]. I was only able to play two sets before this match in the last 40 days.

“I need to move forward and just start to think about the energy that the crowd gives me in New York. I know it’s a very special place for me. I enjoy it; unforgettable moments there.

“Of course it’s better to win, but at the same time (there) remains one week and a half for me (before) New York…. I have to move forward mentally, no? In terms of practice, I need to start to be in Grand Slam mode–practicing the way that I need to practice to be competitive. I hope I will be able to make that happen.”

Nadal’s loss means Daniil Medvedev is guaranteed to maintain the No. 1 ranking at least through the U.S. Open–and therefore is sure to be seeded first at the year’s final Grand Slam.

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