PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal loses in three sets to Alex de Manaur at United Cup

Rafael Nadal has started 2023 with a 6-3 1-6 5-7 loss to Alex de Manaur at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.

In two hours and 42 minutes, de Minaur weathered periods of powerful shots from Rafa, while applying enough pressure to force Rafa to fumble.

Australia now takes a 1-0 lead over Spain in Group D at the United Cup.

“I was very close to win against two great players. I am not too alarmed,” Rafa told reporters. “I need to be a little bit faster on the court. Last year I had lost two matches in Abu Dhabi too.”


  1. Nadal made a mistake by continueing talking about his end of his career. His injuries and other things. He has now created a selfilfulling prophecy. Now every time he is losing journalist are going to talk about retiring. They are not going to let it go. He should stop talking about his age, end of his carriere and also his injuries. He should refuse to answer these questions or just walk away. Every time he is going to play a tournament they will ask if it is the last time

    • Rafa has always been honest in his interviews and that is not going to change. He has made clear that he is not thinking about retirement and is obviously irritated by those who keep asking him about it. We also know that he does not like to dwell on his injuries, apart from acknowledging them as a fact. The journalists who ask these questions repeatedly are not tennis experts; so they can’t talk about his game (or anyone else’s). They are just looking for a ‘good’ story. Irritating for Rafa and for all Rafafans but it goes with the territory. Years ago, when Rafa’s form and confidence dipped, (I think it was about six years ago) journalists were continually asking whether he had considered replacing Uncle Toni as his Head Coach. His answer was always the same. His dip in form had nothing to do with his Coach and he had no intention of replacing (blaming) Uncle Toni. He made clear that it was up to him to find a solution and he did.

      2023 will be tough for Rafa because he is older now and a little bit slower. He is still a great tennis player of course and is a much better player over five sets than many of his rivals. That said, Rafa has not played many matches since his triumphant French Open over six months ago; so he is not match tough at the moment and therefore lacking in confidence. He is of course well aware of that. With the benefit of hindsight, Rafa might have been better off entering a couple of smaller tournaments before the AO, where his seeding would have given him a few easier matches in the early rounds. Nothing like winning to restore confidence.

      I am not sure about the United Cup Format. It does seem rather complicated. Let’s see if they modify it over time. Unfortunately, I don’t have (and have no intention of ever subscribing to) BT Sport; so haven’t been able to watch it anyway. I do hope Amazon Prime Video renew their contract with the ATP to cover the ATP Tournaments over the next five years. They have provided more comprehensive and better coverage in the UK than Sky and Eurosport used to.

      Very best wishes to Rafa and his Family for 2023 and to all GENUINE Rafafans on this site. (We all know there are a few interlopers on this site, whose only ambition is to wind everyone else up. They are to be pitied.)

  2. Do you people think he should ask toni nadal back. Like djokovic did with vajda. I feel like something is missing in his game. What do you people think

    • Happy new year Marijnt

      I’m not sure Rafa should ask Toni to return.

      Rafa knows best all the issues he has to deal with, and I’m sure our champ is doing the best he can to return to his winning ways.

      Let’s keep in mind that father time is undefeated.

      I’m hopeful.

  3. Rafael Nadal’s slams United Cup for meaningless competition. That is what I said yesterday. It was a mistake playing in it. Adelaide (1 & 2) would have been much better.

  4. Rafa’s pulled out of the mixed doubles against Australia that he was scheduled to play with Paula Badosa. She is injured and I don’t think that Rafa is motivated to play because they would be playing for nothing.
    Rafa’s called for an overhaul of the tournament saying that it was “meaningless” for teams that were knocked out to have to play five extra matches with no incentive.

  5. I think Rafa’s in for the fight of his life this year! It may be a rough ride, but if there’s anything Rafa loves it’s a challenge! So hang in there and support him this year, Rafans. I think he’ll need all the love we can give.

  6. Rafa shouldn’t have played in such a meaningless competition. But, he got two good practice matches.

  7. I thought he played really well in the first set and for part of the third set, but six defeats in his last seven tour matches is a worrying statistic. Hopefully things will improve.

  8. As long as Rafa is optimistic and happy, so am I as his fan! 😊

    Cam Norrie beat alcaraz last year, and de minaur beat medvedev last year. De minaur also gave alcaraz his toughest match in Barcelona. So they are both very good players and there is nothing to be ashamed of in losing to them.

    Rafa will shake off the rust and only improve going forward. He is confident and optimistic about making it happen too!

    No alarm bells here.

    • Alcaraz beats Rafa at the Madrid Open in May 2022.

      Goes on to win French Open 2022.

      Despite taking a medical timeout due to an abdominal issue, the 36-year-old was able to outlast the 24-year-old in the over four-hour match on Centre Court. He will go on to face Nick Kyrgios in the semifinal on Friday. (This was against Taylor Fritz in Wimbledon, June 2022.)

      Then –

      Tiafoe had ended Rafael Nadal’s 22-match Grand Slam winning streak Monday and reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time.5 Sept 2022

      13 Nov 2022 — Rafael Nadal was defeated by Taylor Fritz in straight sets on Sunday at the Nitto ATP Finals, but there was no sign of panic from the Spaniard. (Rafa knew this was his best due to still being injured.)

      Rafa finished his Nitto ATP Finals campaign with a flourish on Thursday, when the Spaniard downed Casper Ruud 7-5, 7-5 at the prestigious season finale in Turin.

      Then loses to Norrie and de Minaur in three sets at the United Cup.

      Looking at the foregoing timeline of matches from May 2022 to early January 2023, I can appreciate why our Champ isn’t perturbed by naysayers.

      The Aussie team naturally capitalizes on this triumph by Alex,. They always do. Example: when #1 Aussie Lleyton Hewitt beat Federer back in the day. They will always make a song & dance of it. The Brits are more stiff upper-lip about Norrie’s win.

      Like Rafa, I take these losses philosophically. It feels like shades of 2021 going into 2022.

    • We Rafans nothing to worry when he loses at tournament, It made him more motivated to problem solve and worked the hardest to win…its Rafa’s routine in his long time career..

  9. You know what needs to be done, Rafa. Best of luck in your preparations for AO👏👍💪🤛🍀🎾❤️

  10. Sometimes when you lose you win! Rafa is back from serious injury and is testing the waters. He knows his body best. He always works and plays himself into best form over time. I have every confidence in him. Glad to see Rafa back! Also glad to see his family with him as well. All the best in the new season!

  11. Wish Rafa would go to Kooyong and get more practice against the top guys! Honestly, I am happy to see him back on court, but true, it is sad to see him lose to players he has never lost to before. Btw, if there are any Rafans attending the AO on the first 4 days, would love to meet up!

  12. Rafa is an incredible genius . He knows what is needed to hit his peak form. Yes- he is a wee bit slow and made more UFE. But we need to appreciate the fact that for AO it is best of 5 sets . and he will play himself into the matches. Be positive. We have stood by him for close to 20 years . We will have to stay confident and optimistic. I am exceedingly optimistic about AO :):)
    Legends are very very difficult to beat at Slams

  13. Rafa ran into two very determined players who had inspired coaches. Rafa played great at times, but also looked tired and flat too. Sadly, I was already worried about his start this year since last year was incredible. I just want Rafa to be happy and healthy, but will be realistic about his AO expectations.

  14. Come on guys this is just the start of the new year. Lets see what happens in melbourne. However I am still concerned about his serve. Why cant he just have a normale good serve that will give him free points. Also his returns were not deep enough and his backhand was awful. But there is time to repair these things. He is not helping his country at all right now.

    I am glad he said goodbye to roig. But I wish he would add someone who can help him with serving like feliciano lopez who was a good server in his career. And add a psychologist to his team who can help him overcome his mental problems. He needs to be faster maybe lose some weight just like he did in last year australian open. Add a nutritionist to his team could also be a solution.

    This is in my opinion a defining year in nadal career. He can not afford to be injured again or lose against the younger generation. If he is injured again or start losing against many young players. He might retire at the end of the season because he would feel that he can not longer compete against the young guys.

    • Marijnt, I’m in agreement with a lot of what you and Jill have said. Time for Rafa to shake off the rust and focus on getting that serve going. At 36 Rafa has to manage his energy levels throughout a match, keep rallies short and perhaps not go full throttle all the time like he used to in the past.
      I don’t know where Rafa’s playing next pre-AO,, but he does need to win to give him some confidence.

  15. I’m going to keep saying it. Rafa has got to get his serve back. I really think he’s unconsciously protecting his abdominal muscle when he should be stretching it daily to get it back to normal. His serve (as Jim Courier showed in the graphic during the match) is just not the same as it was AO 2022.

    Regardless, I am glad to see his positivity in the post match interview. Positivity will get his head back in the game like nothing else. I am anxious for a win to help that along. I’m sure it will come soon!! Remember HE IS STILL NUMBER 2 in the world! He’s not done by a LONG SHOT!!

    Vamos !!

  16. I’m not pressing any alarm bells just yet. I did say previously, that Alex de Minaur would be a big challenge as he’s very quick, hits and retrieves from all angles.
    Not the greatest of preparations by Rafa, but I’m confident that he’ll get it together for the AO, where we’ll see a different story over the best of five set matches.

    • well said, not new to us to see rafa played in 2 sets vs 3 setters….he did many times in the past why we still doubt him…good vibes and trust

  17. I feel differently to all bar one comment: Rafa is putting in as much match practice in his body for the coming AO..

    Whilst I am aware that Rafa is different from Pete Sampras, in the sense that he doesn’t throw away sets like Pete has done during his playing days, particularly in Wimbledon by losing the pre-matches such as Queen’s etc, I still believe that win or lose, Rafa is moving towards albeit slowly, to acquire the form he requires to compete on January 16th onwards.

    I have faith in Rafa – I am not trying to convince any other fan, but this the way I see it.

    “Only the event will teach us in its hour.”

  18. Wasn’t so concerned after Norrie match since that was the first match. But I’m very concerned now. Expected him to raise his level in this match and usually, he would thrash De Minaur. It feels like a continuation of his 2022 season ending. 1-6 in last 7 matches 😐
    Come on Rafa. How can you lose your confidence so quickly after the brilliant first half of 2022? Hope to see you regain some of your magic by the time AO comes round. Vamos

    • Ronaldo didn’t care to kill himself for his country in world cup, Why? If he injured himself after world cup who’s going to sign him for next team, his bills and career plus being 36 years old. Rafa did the same thing, smart thinking of not injuring yourself after United Cup because AO is coming and you need to stay healthy for your career. After the game Its you matters….your country will say thank you and talk you in media. We all fans worry and happy when his winning and criticized him during losing….Rafa knows what’s best…

  19. Rafa is losing too often to those tennis travellers who have been scavenging around looking for an opportunity. Rafa needs to be fit and put his acts together if he seriously plans to defend his Australian Open title.

  20. It looks like Rafa doesn‘t have enough power to compete at this level right now😔 Will be tough to come back to the top.

    • Thank you Rafael Nadal Fans! All your regular posts are so welcome and you do a great job! Happy new year 🥳

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