(AFP) Rafael Nadal was sent packing in the last eight at the China Open by world number 20 Grigor Dimitrov on Friday.
Despite two breaks in the first set, the fourteen-time Grand Slam champion was unable to keep his serve and Dimitrov kept the pressure on for a 6-2, 6-4 victory — his first over the Spaniard in eight attempts.
After the match, Rafa said:
It’s obvious that Grigor played much better than me and he deserved to win. Losing five serve games is something you can’t do to win a match like this.
I fought until the last ball, but was going against psychologically bad feelings because I was suffering with my serve. When that happens, you have to go to the next tournament because you don’t deserve to win like this.
The loss in the Chinese capital puts Rafa’s qualification for an 11th consecutive ATP Final — which brings together the season’s top eight players — in doubt.