Rafael Nadal entered the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals with a 9-0 record against Diego Schwartzman. But instead of looking for excuses after losing to the Argentine for the first time, the Spaniard is only seeking ways to improve.
“We can find excuses, but I didn’t play well enough. Then we have to think internally, ‘Why? How I can fix it?’” Nadal said. “Now is not the moment to find excuses. [It’s] just the moment to accept that I didn’t play well enough.”
Few players dare go toe-to-toe with Nadal in baseline rallies. But that’s exactly what Schwartzman did, especially in ad-court exchanges. The eighth seed hit 31 winners to only 17 unforced errors, while nine-time Rome champion Nadal made 30 unforced errors, including 18 on his forehand wing.
Nadal began the tournament with an 85 per cent hold rate on clay in his service games. But Schwartzman dominated his return games, winning 52 per cent of first-serve return points en route to breaking the Spaniard five times from 10 service games.
“It was not my night at all. He played a great match I think and [I didn’t],” Nadal said. “When this happens, you have to lose. These things can happen. After such a long time without competing, I played two good matches, and now today I played a bad one against a good opponent.
“That’s how it is. I just want to congratulate Diego and I’m going to keep working.”
This was Nadal’s first tournament since the ATP Tour was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Spaniard won his first two matches in straight sets to reach the Rome quarter-finals for the 15th time. But the second seed will now have to regroup before beginning his run for a 13th Roland Garros trophy in just more than a week.
“It’s a completely special year and unpredictable year. I don’t know. I probably [will] go back home and then let’s see what’s going on,” Nadal said. “I did my job here. I did a couple things well and other things bad and that’s it. At least I played three matches. I fought until the end. But losing that many [service games], you can’t expect to win a match. [It’s] something that I have to fix.
“I know how to do it. I’m going to keep working and keep practising with the right attitude and try to give myself a chance to be ready.”
Did You Know?
Nadal fell to 63-7 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The Spaniard’s has earned more victories (63) at the Italian Masters 1000 event than at all other tournaments except for Roland Garros (93), Monte Carlo (71), the Australian Open (65) and the US Open (64).