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Defending champion Rafael Nadal left Rome after a third-round loss against Denis Shapovalov 1-6 7-6 6-2. The Spaniard started the match looking as good as ever and dominated his opponent, until a sharp pain in his foot slowed him down. The Canadian lifted his level and finally the match turned around.
“I don’t want to take away any great from Denis”, said Nadal minutes after leaving the Campo Centrale: “He deserve probably the way that he lost his match with me in Australia this year, and last year here. Today is for him”.
The Australian Open champion opened up to a situation that sadly was not new to him: “I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury. That’s it. No, no, is nothing new. It’s something that is there. Unfortunately, my day-by-day is difficult, honestly. Even like this, I am trying hard. Of course, it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes”.
He revealed that this ongoing issue is hampering his training schedule, but also his mental well-being.
“I love playing tennis, I say it all the time, but some days the pain is shading my love for the sport”, he told the Spanish media: “(the most) negative thing and toughest thing for me today is honestly I start to feel myself play much better. I started the match playing much better. I feel sad about that, that I started to feel again a lot of positive things. But then when these kind of stuff happens, the rest of the things, the rest of the positive things disappears, no? Yeah, it’s the time to accept the situation and fight”.
In spite of the difficult moment, Nadal remained a fighter and will not give up just yet, not with Roland Garros on sight: “I still have a goal in one week and a couple of days. I going to keep dreaming about that goal. First thing that I need to do is to don’t have pain to practice, that’s it. And the negative thing is today it’s not possible to play for me. But maybe in two days things are better, that’s the thing that I have on my foot. It’s true that during the French Open, Roland Garros, I going to have my doctor there with me. That sometime helps because you can do things”.