Rafael Nadal hard on himself after loss to Denis Shapovalov in Montreal: “It is probably my worst loss of the year”

Rafael Nadal talks to the media after the 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(4) defeat against Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the Rogers Cup.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did you underestimate Denis?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I am not this kind of person. I respect everybody.

Yeah, obviously is a tough lose for me. Is a bad lose. Probably is the worst lose of the year we have, without a doubt, for me.

That’s like this. He play well. I play really bad. When this kind of thing happen, only thing you can do is wish the opponent the best, all the best.

Q. Why do you exactly say this is one of your worst losses of the year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Probably my worst loss of the year because I lost against a player with a lower ranking. At the same time because of the opportunity I had here to come back to the No. 1. Always tough, but the draw was not that impossible after all the matches that were happening. So was an important mistake for me. That’s the real thing, no?

Is a bad lose. Just accept that and keep working.

Q. Usually when you come to Canada, you have the crowd behind you. I thought it was almost a Davis Cup crowd out there today. Talk about the crowd and the atmosphere, playing against the crowd.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no, nothing about the crowd. I am used to it. No one excuse about that. Sometimes the crowd is for you. Sometimes the crowd is against you. That’s it. 

Q. Maybe not the right time for a comparison, but 12 years as an 18-year-old you played against Agassi. Can you draw some comparisons?
RAFAEL NADAL: Against who?

Q. In 2005 you beating Agassi. Now you are the legend playing a teenager. Draw some comparison.
RAFAEL NADAL: He played well. He has a great potential. I wish him the best. He has everything to become a great player. He played with the right determination in the important moments.

I don’t know if we can compare. Let’s see. Let him make his career. Don’t compare him with anothers. Probably will not be good for him.

I did my way. He going to do his way.

Q. When it was the third set, you were going into the tiebreaker, were you thinking about your match at Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: What kind of match in Wimbledon?

Q. The loss you had at Wimbledon this year.
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Completely different story. Different surface. Different conditions. In Wimbledon I didn’t play a tiebreak. Was difference by two games. Here was another story.

Big mistake with my backhand with the 30-Love. Two good serves for him. Double-fault for me, mistake. No, playing very bad. With this is impossible.

All the time I was waiting for his shot. I didn’t went for the shots. I didn’t feeled the ball tonight. That’s it, no?

I tried to fight until the end. I had a lot of chances in the third. Probably I played bad, but at the same time playing like this, I could win the match. Nothing will happen because I don’t know how many breakpoints I had in the third.

But he played well in the breakpoint. He hit some lines. One with 15-30, he hit the second serve ace wide. Then a good return for me. Forehand winner down the line, not easy. A couple of ones well played for him.

But even all these kind of things, I make too many mistakes in important points. In all terms, I cannot be happy about the things that I did.

Q. Are you a little bit surprised at 18 years old he didn’t crack? His nerves were good the whole time.
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, no. That’s normal, no? I have been in that situation. If I don’t remember back with 18 years old, I win Roland Garros. Is something that I don’t know why should happen, when you have 18, to don’t hold the nerves.

In my opinion, is much more easy when you have 18 than when you have 30.

Q. Were you surprised he was able to fight back against all those breakpoints you had on him?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. He has nothing to lose. Is win-to-win for him. If he lose playing a good match, was good for him. If he lose in straight sets, already he played a good tournament. If he win, he’s amazing. He won. Is amazing for him. Just well done for him. Is a great story. And I am not happy to be part of this story. That’s it, no?

Q. The third game in the third set that took 26 minutes, 10 deuces, do you think that was maybe a turning point? How did you feel after that game? Do you feel he gained the needed momentum?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, it was one more game. Important one obviously. But I still had breakpoints later. Is not the end of the world with 2-1 in the third. I still had breakpoints. 3-Love in the tiebreak. Some more 15-30s. Lot of chances, no?

But even like this, even how bad I played, I had a lot of chances. That’s the worst thing, no? Playing bad, is the matches that really matters. Really means a lot to win. When you play bad, you have to win these matches. I didn’t today. That’s why I said is an important mistake for me.

Is probably the worst match of the year for me. But that’s like this. I have another week in Cincinnati, and then I have a Grand Slam coming.

I am not happy now. Tomorrow probably I don’t going to practice, but I have time to recover mentally. After tomorrow I going to be practicing in Cincinnati, and that’s it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


  1. Hard as it may be, Rafa has got to put the nightmare match against a confident and fearless Shapovalov behind him and press the reset button. Another tough draw for Rafa in Cincinnati next week, with most of the big hitters in his half (a nice draw for Federer as usual). Just hitting the ball back in the centre of the court isn’t going to cut it, It’s painful to see players bossing Rafa around the court. He has to change his mindset, get on the front foot, take more calculated risks and go for his shots. That way, even if he loses some points it will be on his terms.

    I’m looking ahead to the US Open where, in the best of five sets, Rafa has more chance to go deep into the tournament.

  2. Hey Rafa,what ere you going to achieve by being hard on yourself?Nothing.Absolutely nothing..Relax,relax just a little bit.Then relax a whole lot more.What you have achieved is so amazing ,You Have nothing to prove to anyone.Enjoy playing the game of tennis you love so much.The World is still your oyster.Vamos

  3. Okay, here I am waiting eagerly for the Cinci draw to come out again. I want to reply to almost every comments here and in other threads but I guess I should focus more on what comes next now. Hopefully Toni and Moya will come for Rafa at Cinci like they did at Miami after Rafa’s loss to Fed at IW. He needs to recover mentally quick like he said. And better scouting I guess.

    • Rafa’s potential path:



      Dimitrov/Berdych/Del Potro

  4. Well, Rafa should have not lost that game, period. Everybody and the best of them may lose a match at any given day, but the loss yesterday should have never ever happened. Couple weeks ago, after the loss in Wimbledon, I made a comment on this forum saying that by staying that far behind the baseline you empower your opponent, showing him you are respecting his serves, a faux pas in tennis by legends like Rafa. I also recommended Rafa uses a different racquet when he plays on grass or on hard courts. Federer did it, so can Rafa.
    Vamos Rafa!

  5. M. Nadal, après lecture de tous les commentaires je me dis que ces personnes ne sont pas dans votre peau. L’objectif que vous vous étiez fixer c’est à dire gagner contre Shapovalov était plus que réaliste. Comme vous l’avez mentionner ce dernier n’avait rien à perdre en comparaison avec vous qui aviez la pression. Peut -être avez vous penser que ce tournoi était acquis ? Je n’en sais rien ! Vous seul avez la réponse.
    Vous savez, je ne pratique pas le tennis mais hier soir j’ai exceptionnellement regardé le “match”. Vous êtes mon idole au tennis et l’idole de beaucoup de jeunes du fait de la personne que vous êtes.
    Depuis des années je pratique dìfférrents sports et j’ai appris que le repos était essentiel sinon vital pour performer car le surentraînement ne mène à rien. Je suis bien consciente que bien de professionnels vous conseillent, mais hier soir je ne percevait pas ce dynamisme cette force de caractère qui vous sied si bien. Vous êtes une personne unique que vous soyez gagnant ou perdant. N’oubliez jamais !!!

    • Soi gagnant soi perdant, j’aime Rafa. Je suis d’accord avec beaucoup de ce que vs avez si élégamment écrit mais pour moi la force d’un champion est de surpasser la pression. Sur la terre battue il est roi.

  6. Esta es una perdida no se acaba el mundo ni tu carrera preparate mentalmente para tu proximo torneo y como bien dices tu una nueva historia, Vamos Rafa a Cincinaty a ganar te deseo lo mejor del mundo siempre estare contigo pierdas o ganes.

  7. This is tennis. Victories are sublime, while losses are agony. Players like Shap have absolutely nothing to lose. Rafael needs his team-where are they? For whatever reason, the game face was missing. Regroup and come back strong
    in Cinci and the Open.🍀💪🤣 Fire it up!

  8. This loss came at a the worst possible time for Rafa when he could have been number 1 with a win at the quarter finals the next round.
    But as usual Rafa made no excuses and gave praise to a very worthy opponent.
    The thing that concerned me, as it has in the past, is Rafa’s excessive and obsessive practice routines.When I read that he was practising 3 hours a day I was filled with foreboding. That is twice as long as his actual matches are.!!
    I feel he must go on court mentally and physically tired although he may not realise it until it is too late. A tired mind cannot always make the right decisions and a tired body cannot always make the right moves.For the first time ever I heard him say today that he does not feel like practicing to-morrow.
    Much as I do not wish to hold Fed. up as the shining example (the media do enough of that ) he does not practice to excess and so he goes on to court feeling fresh. He is also protecting his body by not putting too much strain on it.
    I remember reading somewhere that Moya told Rafa that rest is also part of practice. I wish that Moya had been in Montreal.
    I do not hold much hope for Rafa in Cincinnati as he has only won once there . All I can hope for is that he stay injury free so that he may have a chance for success at the US Open.
    There will probably be a big shuffle up of the rankings at the end of that. I hope that Rafa will still be close to the top or even at the top !!
    But whatever happens I will still be a dedicated fan and will follow his career until he has played the very last game.

    • I agree wholeheartedly that Rafa is playing too kuch practice tennis . . Rafa looked a bit stiffer than usual and needs to limber up some . More stretching and breathing . The serve was way off as the % of first serves was not the usual . Being up 3-zero in the 3rd set tie breaker should have enabled Rafa to close out this match with a victory . He kind of misplayed the next several returns . Rafa was on his heels from deep returns that had him handcuffed . I think Denis was the better player one on this day but Rafa must try to take the positive out of this loss . He should play attacking tennis from the outset like he did against Coric and not return from so deep behind the baseline on the hard court . It gives his opponents a better chance of receiving a short return that inevitably allows them to get Rafa on the defensive .Anyway , Rafa knows all th8s and will rebound from this liss . It wasca great match and Shapapolov looks like the next great champion . He could win this tournament with this caliber of play against Rafa and Del Porto .

    • Hi Berverley. Rafa had had 2 practice sessions each day at Montreal before he played the Coric match, usually 3 hours each. I have to admit, that’s INSANE. Too risky.

      He was worrying too much I guess. And Moya wasn’t there to tell him time and time again that he needs rest as much as practice like you said. I remember a few months ago Moya said in an interview that he wanted Rafa to understand that he needed 5 more minutes to rest, not to practise. And I was so glad reading that….

      • Yes Rainier, I see your point. 😊In Majorca he had 22 days rest before leaving for the Americas and following the photos of him there he always has a good balance of training in the Aca in the morning and taking time to go out in his yacht, swimming and sailing. He went as far as Ibiza in it and there took time to talk to fans. I am going soon to Majorca to visit the Aca and if I get chance to speak to him I shall say so. I am not technically au fait with tennis but several people have said this about too much practice before not always good. Fi in Paris

      • Hi fiona :). It’s very nice to hear you are going to visit “Rafa’s island” and his academy soon. Hope you’ll get a chance or more to meet him. It’s early but have a very nice trip. Looking forward to read some “report” from you then. 🙂 🏖🏝🌞

      • Rainier, I visited Majorca in Sept. 2015, in Manacor the Aca then was under construction, the Tenis Club nearby where he first started playing as a boy I visited. Always sun, I told them that is an advantage they have for early training. I met him briefly during R Garros at the hotel, gave him a card and present for his b day. He said muchas gracias but of course they do not have time to stop for long. Hope this time in the Aca to see him for longer. The Spanish seem often nice natural people. Hope he comes to Paris Bercy this year, he missed last year, saw him there close up in 2015. Fiona in Paris

  9. Love Rafa!!! Rafa is UNIQUE and the best ever and ever!!! Great champion and great even like this today, yesterday… Love LOTS OF LOve for THE GREAT UNIQUE RAFAEL NADAL!!!

  10. Rafa, you had a bad day at the office. You win some and you lose some. You said you weren’t feeling the ball. You clearly were not. I think your fans are as disappointed as you are. I know I am. I am just glad you are healthy. Thank God. Please get more of that good confidence that you have displayed during the French Open and. Beyond. Don’t let yourself get mentally pushed deep in the court into the grandstand.. When you’re far behind the baseline that’s when you have problems. You don’t even realize you’re doing that. You need to work on not falling back or retreating into bad habits. I love you Rafa. Please remain in great physical health. Reset and don’t be intimidated if you can help it and you can help it by being intensely focused during when you play. Don’t think abo;it who your’e opponent is or who he isn’t. Good luck and God bless you Rafa. Love, Marylynn.

  11. Hey… Let’s not sugarcoat this one! He played like crap and he knows it! The kid played well, Rafa didn’t … And yet, Rafa could have won!!! He took it to a tiebreak playing his worst… He should have nailed this! Bottom line is the
    U.S. OPEN is what counts ..He needs to reset, get it together and put this behind him!!

  12. Rafa, you are a legend and a loss here and there should not bother you. I watched the match and thought you played well. May be the double faults at crucial moments could have been avoided but that’s how the game is.
    I am sure you are going to rock in US open. Best Wishes!!!

  13. Rafa will always be my personal GOAT in terms of his exciting style and presence on court, the joy he brings with his successes, his humility and graciousness in defeat and his off court role model example to all. I’ve supported him since he first burst on the scene and, win or lose, will continue to do so for as long as he continues to play. A disappointing loss yesterday but a truly amazing year for him overall and he has already qualified for the o2, where I look forward to seeing him again.

    • I am with you Leigh, 100%, I could not have said it better. The scrutiny on every move a top player makes is unending!

    • I could sign my name under Leigh’s comments: “Rafa will always be my personal GOAT in terms of his exciting style and presence on court…’. I also have admired him since I first saw him and will root exclusively for him.

      I do not feel like continuing to watch Rogers cup and am waiting for Rafa to reappear at another tournament.


  14. 3 things here

    1. Rafa was hitting the balls short ( please hit a lil deeper and with that spin this kid wouldn’t have had a chance.)
    2. Time and again Rafa serve disappoints ( please improve)
    3. you never attacked Rafa after you won the 1st set.

    It pains me when you lose but you are fighter and will come back all guns blazing in Cincinnati.

    Vamos Rafa!

  15. WOW! 26 minute game, 10 deuces? Ridiculous! I am glad I slept through all that then! Because if I saw all that and he still lost, it would have hit me extra hard:)

    Mope for a day, then get back to training Rafa. The end goal remains the same- sink some teeth into the US Open trophy!

    All this loss means is that Rafa won’t have the extra money that comes from winning the US Open series:)

  16. Rafa everyone has a bad day. You need to shake it off and move on with a positive attitude. I know it’s hard to lose especially when you know you could have played better but, everyone has a day like this. I know you can move on and learn from this lose and continue to play excellent like you normally do. You are the best in Sportsman ship and you bring the love of the Sport back to me. With out you out there I would probably stop watching so Cheer up and wipe this one off your sleeve and move on and play for fun and you will be on your winning streak again. And if you don’t make the next one just remember it’s how you play the game that is what it is all about.
    your Fan

  17. Moya needs to persuade Rafa to play more aggressive and stand closer on the baseline to return the second serve. I can understand that Rafa has to stand far from the baseline on the first serve but come on that was just Dennis, against Federer it’s gonna be much much tougher to read his serve.
    Also his service game is still shaky. I can see Rafa still struggles to find the right way to serve. His serve placement gets worse as the speed increases and it’s not the first time. When facing Federer at Indian Wells and Miami, it was the same scenario.
    US Open is comming closer, his team needs to fix these problems soon.

    • Rafa actually stayed very close to the baseline on Denis’s second serve, especially in the second set, with mixed results. Since he lost the second set, I think he decided to give himself more room on receiving in the third set. As for Rafa’s serve, what has been very effective on the right-handed opponent might not work as well on the left-handed (ex: wide on both sides), and the double-faults didn’t help either. But we have to give Denis a lot of credit. To me, the way he serves or hits his forehand are pretty unconventional, but very effective (lost count of how many winners he hit on the lines).

      If Roger played Denis the way he played against David yesterday, he would probably have lost in straight sets. Lucky for him, David was a much easier opponent than Denis.

      Sad for the loss, sadder that we have to wait until next week to see Rafa play again. Rafa, take a short break and re-group, best of luck next week! Always with you!

      • Yes, I said the same thing about Shap would have beat Fed, easily I think.

        Fed has been so lucky with draws it’s absurd.
        Fed’s wildcard Canadian opponent is POlansky (might have been Pospisil) Rafa’s is Shap.

        Someone want to tell me, with any authority or certainly, how wild cards are placed in the draw?

      • Good point about the lefty receiving serves that would bother a righty more. Denis returned really well, though in fact Rafa’s serving was well below what it has been this year.

        I’m curious to see if Shap will comply with the pattern and lose to Mannarino. What a waste of Rafa that will be.

        All my hopes on Diego now. LOL!!! But he’s something else. Rafa needs his head, at this point.
        And to p[lay with the fearless ness of an 18 year old.

    • He needs Moya to be there, he relapses into bad old habits when he’s not. Moya wasn’t at Wimb either.

      Or it may be the surface. Very different from Rafa on clay. Last night we saw 2015-2016 Rafa, dropping FHs short, 1rst serves in the net, not clutch.

      Worrying! Rafa knows it, and he admitted he didn’t play well, but I wonder if he knows why he didn’t play well.

  18. Ça arrive même aux meilleurs comme rafa ! Ms bon il faut relativiser et continuer à être le meilleur pr la suite 💪💪rafa forever 💚💛💜

  19. Rafa. I saw the match and you and Roger have been my favorites all this time. Please don’t feel bad. He was a young guy and he played very good. This is one big win for him, but you have hundreds. Please cheer up and you are my champion no matter what. Your abuela from Mexico. Vamos RAFA. I will be in Ohio to watch you. Greetings and love from Mexico. Sonríe por favor.

  20. Yes rafa was not in the match ….after so long he played a bad match……
    The thing i want to see new is with his returns and service but didn’t that too

    Practice well.rafa..

  21. All the tv commentators talk of him becoming No1 jinxed him. Maybe he should hire a left handed hitter,first Muller and now this left handed kid who will just fade away.

    • If you think Denis will fade away you know nothing about tennis.
      He has virtually all the ingredients of a champion, and is on his way.
      Rafa wasn’t a sore loser, so why are you?

  22. Rafa no t preocupes…estas competitivo…jugando bien…con buenos golpes..mejorado en muchos aspectos…s no eres n.1 en l ranking si en el corazon d tus fans…k esto no t encoja tu coraje y ganas d competir…otra vez sera..t speramos sigue dando caña…

  23. Siento mucho mi querido Rafa no hayas ganado. Tu y Roger sin mis únicos favoritos y pues a veces uno gana y otra vez uno pierde. Tienes que pensar que lo diste todo en la cancha y espero de corazón te recuperes mentalmente para Cincinnati. Por primera vez en mi vida y ya soy una abuela he seguido tus pasos desde que eras más chico. Que emoción será verte jugar a ti y a Roger en Ohio. Parar mi tu y El son mis consentidos. Animo campeón. Creo que el tío tony ya tiene que retirarse. Get some new fresh blood. The best to you in Ohio. La abuela que te quiere desde Mexico

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