Shanghai, China: Two weeks ago, Rafael Nadal landed in China as the world No 2 and with a perfect record of 22 wins on hardcourts this season.
On Saturday, he bowed out in the semi-finals at the Shanghai Rolex Masters to a superior Juan Martin del Potro, but left the venue as the world No 1.
“Both were tough tournaments and I played against the best players,” Nadal told the media here after his loss on Saturday night. “Both have been positive results for me as I made the final and the semi-finals in China. From my perspective semi-finals is a positive result.”
Making a return to the ATP World Tour following an eight-month absence to treat his ailing knees, Nadal has had an amazing run that has an amazing 10 titles including six on clay and four on hardcourts. Among his exploits are five Masters 1000 titles (Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati) along with two Grand Slams — the US Open and his favourite French Open.
Last weekend, the Spaniard reclaimed his world No 1 position by reaching the final of the China Open in Beijing but had his first hardcourt defeat of the season as he lost 6-2, 6-4 to Novak Djokovic.
Then on Saturday, del Potro came up with a comprehensive display, moving the Spaniard around for an identical 6-2, 6-4 result. “One has to consider that this season alone I have so far played seven Masters 1000s, six finals, five wins and one semi-finals,” Nadal said. “You cannot expect me to be in the final every week, not when there are other good players around.”
Nadal had no reason for concern merely because he lost to an inspired opponent. Each time Nadal raised his game, del Potro came up with something much better. “On days like this, the only thing you can do is congratulate your opponent and keep working the same way,” Nadal said. “I am on the right path. I enjoyed playing this week and I am very happy the way I played this week, even if I lost in the semi-finals.
“I consider my level very high this week. If I am able to keep playing at this level, I am confident that I will keep having positive results.”
Nadal’s next event will be the Swiss Indoors Open in Basel, Switzerland starting on October 21. “So I can go home with the calm that I did all what I had to do [against del Potro] and I played against a player who was better than me. That’s all.”