Mason, OH -- Rafael Nadal says injury was not to blame for his lopsided loss to Borna Coric at the Western and Southern Open yesterday. Nadal lost in the round of 16 for the second consecutive year, after bowing out to Feliciano Lopez in three sets 12 months ago. This time, the world #5 managed only four games in 72 minutes against the 19-year-old from Croatia.
After losing the opening set 6-1, Nadal called for the trainer. He explained after the match that his arm was tired and he felt discomfort in his elbow and shoulder. But, Nadal insisted the distress he felt was a natural result of playing so much tennis since the Rio Olympics, particularly after an extended period of inactivity.
"You know, two months and a half without competing, and especially without practicing, and then do what I did in the Olympics, come here, different balls, too much," he said. "I came here; I tried. I tried to do the right things to be ready, but obvious that I was not ready today."
Nadal went on to explain that the arm trouble he experienced against Coric was not related to the bothersome wrist that forced his withdrawal from Roland Garros mid-tournament. Nadal was also unambiguous about the current state of his wrist.
"The wrist is still the same. I said too many times already, spoke too many times about the wrist. The wrist is still bothering me but is a process that I need to pass and a process that I need to go through," he explained.
Nadal pushed back against the idea he needed rest in order for his wrist to fully heal. He told reporters that "with more rest the wrist will not go better. The wrist needs to adapt again to the game, needs to adapt again to hit the ball."
As for why he was unable to challenge Coric on the scoreboard, Nadal praised the play of his opponent.
"Coric didn't give me many chances. He was playing his serve huge, and from the baseline he didn't miss a lot. So I need to be in better shape to compete against this kind of match. Was not the day to do that. Even like this I tried to the end."
In the second set, Coric served for a 6-1 5-0 lead over the 14-time Grand Slam champion, before Nadal rallied to win three games. In the end, Nadal says his body paid the price for the mileage put on it by playing so much tennis at the Olympics. He simply had run out of gas.
Nadal did not know his immediate plans after the early loss in Cincinnati. He said he would decide with his team whether to stay in Mason for a few days or fly to New York, site of the U.S. Open beginning August 29th.
When asked whether he would be taking a few days off from practice, Nadal said "probably, yes. I think I need to recover emotionally, physically, and especially I need to give some rest to the wrist, the arm, to everything, no?"