Top ranked Rafael Nadal is back in the desert to defend his Masters 1000 Indian Wells title this weekend. Nadal, who is 16-1 on the year, is still feeling the sting from the loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open final in January.
“I’m still very disappointed,” the 3-time champion Nadal told the press yesterday. “It’s part of tennis, but it was one of the toughest moments in my career. Getting to the final of a Grand Slam and spending one hour and half there. Mentally, how was that? It was tough being there for 90 minutes knowing that you will not win. But not winning was not the worst thing. The worst thing was knowing I could not compete.
“When you are losing and competing, that’s part of sport. This loss was worse for me than 2012 and the six hours against Novak. This one was much more disappointing because I didn’t compete. I did everything right to be there and compete in the final, and I couldn’t. Wawrinka was playing unbelievable. I don’t know if I would have had the chance to win that match because he was playing amazing.
“I am a great loser. Normally after a few hours I forget about the losses and look straight to the next thing, but after this tournament it took a little bit more time. But here we are, and the most important thing is my back is healthy.”
Nadal opens play on Saturday against veteran Radek Stepanek. And his dangerous draw could take him through Andy Murray in the quarters and then Roger Federer in the semis.
“The toughest player is always the first one, for the moment,” said Nadal. “This is a Masters 1000 and you are playing against the best players in the world. There’s no chance to think about the later rounds before you’ve won the first one.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always gone on court in every match giving my opponent 100% respect. You can lose to anyone, and I accept that. It’s sport. Sooner or later you are going to lose. You have to be ready for everything.”
Nadal has now been able to defend any of his 16 hardcourt title. This will be the first of four such tries this year.
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