When Roger Federer is blitzing backhands off the ground from the outset, Rafael Nadal knows he is going to have to be on his game. So when the three-time champion succumbed to his Swiss rival 6-2, 6-3 in little more than an hour at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday he admitted he did not come up with the answers when it mattered most.
Nadal will shift his focus to capturing an elusive Miami Open presented by Itau crown now, having finished runner-up in Florida four times. He leaves knowing what he has to do next time to break a three-match losing streak against Federer – the first time he has lost as many matches in succession in their 36th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
“I think it was always that he returned well. But at the same time, it was obvious that I didn’t have the right answer for his returns,” Nadal said. “I needed to neutralise the points. I needed to neutralise his two first balls, and I didn’t … I was not good enough tonight to make that happen and he deserved the victory, for sure.”
Federer Stuns Nadal In Straight Sets
Nadal was only able to muster one break point opportunity in the match and it came after he dropped his opening service game. He was not able to break the 36 year old’s serve throughout.
“I need to hit longer and I need to hit higher to create problems [for him],” Nadal said. “I was not able to do that, and then he [had the] advantage.
“The worst thing in that match for me was from the beginning I was at a disadvantage – broken the first game of the match, and then broken in the second game of the second set. So that’s so difficult to play against Roger this way.”
The 30 year old was determined not to dwell on the fourth-round defeat for long. “When you feel that you are playing bad or you are in a bad moment, maybe it stays a little bit longer in your mind,” he said. “It is not my case.
“I started the season great, playing great tennis, winning a lot of matches. Today I didn’t play my best, but I am really confident I’m going to play well in Miami [next] week.”