(AFP) – Rafael Nadal rued missing out on the Wimbledon final after losing to great rival Roger Federer and admitted his chances of adding a third title on the grass of the All England Club are receding.
The 33-year-old Spaniard, who remains two off Federer’s Grand Slam record title haul of 20, has two Wimbledon crowns to his name.
But he said his game on Friday was never at the level required to repeat his epic win in his first championship victory over Federer 11 years ago.
Rafa, who won his 12th French Open trophy in June, ended up on the wrong end of a 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat.
“I am sad for the loss because for me it was another opportunity,” he said.
“But at the same time I created another opportunity to be in another final of a Grand Slam.
“Just accept that was not my day. I played a great event. I take this in a positive way.
“At the same time, today is sad because for me I know chances are not forever.
“Last year I had chances here (he lost in five sets to Djokovic in the semi-final), I had another one, and I was not able to convert to win it one more time here.”
Rafa, who suffered his first loss to Federer in a Grand Slam semi-final after winning on the previous four occasions, said it was a wonderful experience to be part of the great rivalry with fellow 30-somethings Federer and Djokovic.
Indeed — Andy Murray aside on two occasions — no other player apart from them has lifted the Wimbledon trophy since Australian Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.
“We spoke about that one thousand times,” said Rafa.
“The same time is great to be part of this rivalry, be in the middle of these three players that achieved that much in this sport in the same era.”
If the increasingly harassed ‘NextGen’ group of players — who speak of the unbearable pressure they feel in trying to break up the trio’s dominance — were hoping for light at the end of the tunnel Nadal offered none.
“It is something that is going to be difficult to see again,” he said.
“We are not done, so… Things continue. Just another episode this afternoon.
“Of course, as I said the other day, we know that every time there are less chances to play against each other in these high quality matches.
“Was another chance this afternoon.”
Rafa said defeat was tough but graciously congratulated Federer on being the better player on the day.
Rafa said 37-year-old Federer’s qualities remain undimmed and constant.
“The same like all my career, no?” he said. “He is always able to do the most difficult things easy.
“He’s able to move inside the court quicker than anyone.
“He puts pressure on the opponent all the time because he has the ability to take the ball earlier than anybody else.
“That’s probably the most difficult thing to make that happen, and he is able to do it so well.”
So many beautiful messages after a sad day for us Rafa fans. I like that not one person is blaming the Wimbledon organizers, nor should they. Rafa’s difficult draw maybe did contribute but it was sad to see Rafa not at his fighting best, like when he beat Fed at RG. That match will always be what I like to think of in the current rivalry.
I only watched the first set in today’s match. It was just too painful to continue, though as it turned out I should have watched the second set. I was sending blessings to Rafa even though I couldn’t watch. I did record it so eventually I will watch the second set that no one seems to be mentioning, understandably perhaps.
Most of all, I am so happy for Rafa that his physical health seems stronger than ever before! May it continue, Rafa, for we love to watch you play!!!
Rafa has to adopt his old strategy of playing on BH side of roger . This match also we have seen when nadal started hitting to roger BH it drawn so many error from roger. Really don’t know why rafa rafa didn’t continue the same for 3rd set…rafa has to find formula and start winning again against roger ..because when rafa wins it create a lot of doubt in Roger’s mind and he hesitate to play his style
Federer play fast tennis against rafa this day because he feel that the only solution he had and on grass and hard court his strategy it helps.Also since his this game plan is successful from AO final he is using in every game against rafa..and also he beaten rafa with such game plan recently 6 or 7 times so he is mentally confident while entering match which was not the case when he was on losing streak against rafa . So rafa has to find solution to this agressive game style maye return need to be develop for for players like roger and novak..and to find solution to play deep when opponents play fast ..playing deep don’t allow opponent to dictate the points …so rafa has to develop on his return more as he improved his back hand..
I seriously feel that Rafa should play a warm up event on grass. As these two years at Wimbledon shown, Rafa just couldn’t take the next step of reaching the final; he came out short both times.
I think with some actual match play and competition, Rafa could gain some confidence when playing on grass, and any shortcomings in his grass court game could’ve been exposed and then corrected or ironed out before playing at Wimbledon.
Rafa imo was lacking in competitive matches; he had only one in that Kyrgios match, none of his other opponents could offer him much resistance before the SF. Fed is several steps up from Querrey; Rafa was lacking in confidence when facing Fed’s aggression; he looked confused out there.
To me, Rafa is still finding the balance between his usual defence game with Long rallies, and his new found offensive game of serve plus FH one two punch. Against lesser opponents, he seemed to execute his defence/offence game well; but the test is against his main rivals Fed and Djoko on non clay surfaces.
Rafa did beat Fed and Djoko on clay playing his defence and offence game, but it’s on none clay surfaces that he lacks the confidence to beat them playing his game. He has to continue to improve his offensive game and make it become a natural part of his game; and when it’s natural, he would then need no thinking executing it at will and doing it at the right moments.
It’s still a WIP I feel, on the non clay surfaces where he lacks confidence when facing his two great rivals.
Yep,they both found the way to beat him and he is not there yet…can’t found the solution of beating Frd and Djoko
Too bad rafa lost today. Roger was the better player Rafa didnt play good today Federer was more agressive especially on his returns.
Rafa was passive today especially on his backhand furthermore his returns were very weak he couldnt hurt federer. He used too much slice instead of hitting the ball full
Rafa never reached his level because federer didnt give him the opportunity for it I am more at peace with this loss then last year against novak because rafa never was in controle of this match.
If rafa ever wants to win wimbeldon again he needs to be more agressive he is playing claycourt tennis on grass
Oh come on now Rafa beat Roger 6 to 1 in the second set he had chances to break him back thats it , Rafa played awesome tennis overall had the tuffest draw even Roger said Rafa can play on any surface so he is just not a clay cort specialist.
RAFA, I AM JUST AS SAD AS YOU ARE THAT YOU DIDN’T WIN TODAY! THE FINAL WILL
NOT BE EXCITING WITHOUT YOU!! NO?
Such is life, you win some, you lose some. More importantly though is how magnanimous you are in victory and gracious in defeat. And these sterling qualities sum up the person that is Rafael Nadal. Rafa, you are a great human being. Tennis great Boris Becker said it so well in his commentary during the match in the fourth set: Rafa will fight till the end…. And you did! For this I applaud you. You will always be my hero!
N will NOT play to win……
Everything you wrote is helpful……would be great if rafa returned more side to side and go the net.. ………
Congratulations to Roger! He played a near-flawless match and was unflappable. I felt sad for Rafa but as always he was gracious in defeat. Honestly I would have been devastated if he lost the French Open going for 12. I was happy Rafa was able to defend his semi-final points. It just wasn’t clicking for Rafa today but there will be other opportunities. The rivalry lives on.
I will root for Roger in the final even though Novak is the clear favorite. If Novak prevails then Rafa is still only 2 grand slams behind Roger.
Following Rafa’s career, it is most important for him to stay healthy. We never have to worry about his passion and self motivation. I am very happy for the season he is having:, A finalist at the Australian Open, Champion at the French Open and now a semi-finalist at Wimbledon. As always, I am so proud to be a fan of Rafa, a great competitor and champion.
Enjoy some down time with your fiance, family and fiends before the hard court season begins. You certainly deserve it!
Oh Rafa you very nearly came back in that last set I was biting my nails and this I never do. I so wanted you to win. You looked nervous in the 1st set and I prayed and in the end I cried we your fans love you so much and I loved your team they were willing you on and I hated the other team they were so anxious for you to lose but you played a great Wimbledon and had the worst draw. Then Wimbledon had geared it up so much
they made you nervous. I also have a feeling that if you were on No. 1 court you would have won Roger acts like Centre court belongs solely to him but amazingly a lot of the crowd were with you. You should have taken an MTO when the tape was bothering you ,but you are too fair and too honest Roger did it at the AO and robbed you. but your fairness is why we love you and then you stopped to sign autographs on the way off the court and the winner did not so you are a winner Rafa in more ways than one and good luck with your wedding later so much to look forward to May God always bless you
Yes, Rafa. Roger was just too good today, but please stop overdoing it with the plaudits you give him and Novak. You’re talking yourself out of beating them on any surface apart from clay.
🤭☹️😪😥😭… So sad I couldn’t watch but will catch later tonight; however, heard one of our sports personalities here in Florida this pm say he wasn’t a tennis fan but this match was a beautiful ebb & flow dance of two opposite style players and he thought it was a great extraordinarily beautiful match. My heart 💜 will heal & I’ll be on the frontline for the US Open. I know you fought hard, Rafa.
I thought Roger played superbly today, and Rafa wasn’t quite at the top of his game. You can’t win them all. It’s wonderful that they’re still producing matches like this – it’s over 15 years since they first played each other, and 13 years since they first met in a Grand Slam final, which is incredible.
Oh Rafa I just can’t believe it you lost. I’m very upset about it but always the gentleman and very gracious in defeat that’s why you are so popular with us all. Have a lovely long rest and come back to your winning ways. You will always be no 1 in my eyes!
Love from your greatest fan Jo
Agree with Elizabeth Howard……generally. Not your best day but that is the challenge we all live with every day of our lives. I happen to have so much empathy and genuine respect for you that I can say “ the better man one today ,on this day! “ You Rafa are the epitome of all that I admire,whether in politics, sport or just plain getting along in this old world. Keep on trucking…..you are a gem in a myriad of challenges we all face in this world….and what is more you help me face my own problems every day. Your influence goes far beyond Centre Court at Wimbledon! Jean Palmer
Rafa it was not your day but I believe you will rest and come back beater stronger vamossssssssss champ is ok you are a human being 👍🎾😘💪❤️🎾😘💪❤️👍🎾😘💪❤️🎾😘💪❤️🌎🇺🇸🌎🇺🇸
As you yourself said wisely…only one person comes out the winner in these matches at the end. You are always
a winner the way you choose to be in your life, a good and gracious player.
I think this was the best opportunity rafa has because he come through very difficult draw and serving so good and returning so well but this match I don’t know what happened to rafa after 2 and set he got stuck I mean why rafa not attacked backhand side the way he attacked in 2 nd set and drawn error from roger bh side…I think that was the pattern emerged mrto attack more roger BH side but after 2 nd set he did not done that instead played more on FH side and the lethal FH of rafa which was working so nice upto this point not triggered vicuously.Also I fell rafa has thi find solution to read roger serve for good returns I mean he get so free points . We all know roger is great player but with that serve it makes him feel confident and he heavily rely on that…also I feel roger afte so many looses to rafa decided that he will go and attack every ball eventhough that will be risk and his recent success with that style against rafa made him more confident to play like that form that AO 17 final last set…I mean roger was blindly hitting the ball I mean whacking the ball as hard as possible and that out and out attack game don’t allow rafa to take good position to hit the shots and draw errors…I mean rafa has to change something next time he face roger so that rafa himself can dictate game and don’t allow roger to play all attack game ……also 1 set was crucial if rafa could have won he would definitely had high chances of winning….anyways I am always with you rafa and I really feel that you will lift that trophy for the 3 rd time….also I feel roger will find hard to beat Novak in finals looking at today’s game because novak returns good….so the free point for roger will be less
N will NOT play to win……
Everything you wrote is helpful……would be great if rafa returned more side to side and go the net.. ………
Gracious as always in defeat , it just was not your day but I believe you will rest and come back just as strong as ever in your next event, you will always be my favorite and the favorite of your many,many fans. Get some rest Rafa.will be watching and cheering you on in your next event.
Well said Sue!
Winning or losing, we are always with you! You are are our winner because you have the best quality,
Rafa for ever 🎶
VAMOS SWEETHEART!!!!!!!!!!!!:) WE LOVE YOU AND RESPECT YOUR EFFORTS AND HUNKY GORGEOUS POWER AND FITNESS!!!!!!!!!!:) CO……CI…….CI…….AND WI……
WI………WI……..ENJOY EVERYTHING SWEETHEART…….YOU WERE THE STRONGER BETTER PLAYER TODAY……..LOOK AT REPLAY….ONLY MISSING FEW POINTS….WE LOVE YOU RAFA NADAL AND VERY HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!!!!:) YOU ARE MAGNIFICENT TRUE CHAMPION LIKE NO OTHER!!!!!!!:) YOU. SERVED BEAUTIFULLY AND HAD MANY BRILLIANT RETURNS……THERE WILL BE MORE OPEN DOORS AND VAMOS SWEETHEART!!!!!!!:) GO RAFA GO!!!!!!!!:) WE LOVE YOU AND SENDING LOVE AND HUGS!!!!!:) XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO
Grace in the face of loss. That’s Rafa.
Take a good rest, recharge, and decide how you will spend the next months. Maybe you and Mary will be able to get away and spend some quality time alone. If that’s what you want.
A loss is always hard but Rafa will rebound from this.
J J’ai du mal à croire que federer gagne rafa!il ya un gros problème ? Soit rafa etait blessé à la cheville ? Soit il était pas dans le match. Service à 30 %agression 30 %le rouleau compresseur était inexistant. Le monacor n était pas là. Que s est il passer rafa?il ny à que toi qui le sait.s il te plaît donne nous une explication. Gracias.peut être la fatigue de 15 jours de jeux intensif. (Le rouleau compresseur ).mais merci quand même pour ce wimbledon. Tu étais le meilleur. Ça sera pour l année prochaine. Gracias rafa pour tout.
Gracious and honest Rafa . So disappointed for him and his team . Sport can be cruel . Rafa never really got into the game to day and was well below his best . Roger better on the day .
Yes it’s an opportunity lost but your millions of supporters will always be with you , whether you win or lose .
We love your graciousness Andy our appreciation of the sport . Lovely to see you stop to sign autographs after the match .
Rafa forever .
To passive today. Where was the strong Backhand of the other rounds? Retun was not there too.
Very sad but this was not good enough today 🙁
Take rest and enjoy some days off. Always with you. Vamos Rafa <3