Twenty minutes after only his second defeat at the French Open, nine-time champion Rafael Nadal was already looking ahead.
“I lost in 2009 and it’s not the end, I lost in 2015 and it’s not the end,” the 29-year-old Spaniard said after a 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 defeat to top-ranked Novak Djokovic on a court he’s dominated for the most part of a decade. “I will be back and I hope I will be back to win.”
After losing five times on clay and failing to win a European tennis tournament on the slow surface this year, Nadal was asked if he questioned his ability to win before his quarterfinal against the most dominant player of the season.
“I was doubtful about myself the 11 years that I have been playing here,” he said, a white baseball cap perched over his eyes. “I won nine and I lost twice. Doubts are good in life. I don’t know if I’m going to win 10 but nine I always win.”
Nadal’s play improved in Paris, where he dropped one set on his way to the quarterfinals.
“I’m happy the way that I recovered my level the last month, but probably not enough yet to play against and to win against Novak,” he said. “I competed, but not to win.”
Nadal said he’ll go home to Mallorca with his family before switching his training to grass to get ready for Wimbledon, which starts June 29. Nadal, the Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010, has struggled on the London lawns in recent years, failing to get past the last 16 since he lost in the 2011 final.
“Next week we will have other competitions, and such is life,” he said. “In my case, life will continue whether I win or lose.”