Rafael Nadal sent a warning shot to his rivals after crashing out of the ATP World Tour finals in London: "I'll be back." The world No 2's campaign for glory at the O2 Arena was terminated after slipping to a straight sets defeat to Nikolay Davydenko on Wednesday. But the Spaniard, 23, who missed eight weeks of the season through injury, says he is improving with every match.
"I've had enough breaks this year - too much, in my opinion. I'm ready to practise hard and I have motivation to play my best tennis," he said. "When you have this goal and you have this motivation, it doesn't matter if you are tired or not. "I am ready to start practising and to start playing in 2010. I don't know how far I am from my best, [but] the important thing is when this change happens, I'll be ready for it."
Nadal is a different player to the indomitable figure who won the Australia Open at the start of the season. Since his fourth-round defeat to the Swede Robin Soderling at Roland Garros in May he has appeared to lack self-belief and fitness, as was evident as he was humbled 6-1, 7-6 (4) by the world No 7 Davydenko. Nadal must now pick himself up before next week's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic.
"To be out of the finals, that's sport - anything can happen," said Nadal, who lost his opening match to Soderling 6-4, 6-4, meaning even victory over Novak Djokovic today would not be enough for him to progress to the last four. "I didn't arrive at this tournament with the full confidence that you need to win these matches. And in the moments that I had to play well, I didn't play well. I think mentally [against Davydenko] I was better.
"That's the important thing: that I improved a little bit. I think without playing very good tennis in all the matches, I had my chances against the best players of the world." Meanwhile, in Group A, Andy Murray beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 last night. The Scot won the first set 6-4 and the second went with serve until the inevitable tie-break. It was the eighth tie-break between the two players and Murray had won all the previous seven. But this time it was Verdasco who came out on top 7-4.
Both players showed held serve and again it took a tie break to decide it, this time Murray won it. @Email:email@example.com