x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Nadal left looking for the final piece

A crestfallen Rafael Nadal was still searching for his first final since injury interrupted his season after a semi-final defeat at the China Open.

Rafael Nadal bows out of the China Open to Marin Cilic.
Rafael Nadal bows out of the China Open to Marin Cilic.

BEIJING // A crestfallen Rafael Nadal was still searching for his first final since injury interrupted his season after a semi-final defeat to Marin Cilic at the China Open today. The 23-year-old Spaniard started the year by winning the Australian Open as world No 1 and by May had added Masters Series titles in Indian Wells, Monte Carlo and Rome as well as the Barcelona Open. Since missing his Wimbledon title defence because of tendinitis of both knees, however, he has now reached one quarter-final and three semi-finals, including the US Open where he picked up an abdominal injury.

"I can do it much better next time, I must do it," said the six-times grand slam winner after being outplayed 6-1, 6-3 in his first career meeting with Croatian Cilic. "I am playing well but to play these big matches, you need more confidence. This year has been difficult for me. When I am happy, I am arriving at the semi-finals every week. "When I am there, I need a little more confidence to pass this test. I must play better next time."

Nadal has continually said this week that his main ambition was just to stay fit for the rest of the season to recapture his rhythm. "I hope that if I can really play a few weeks in row, I can continue to improve at this level and then I'm going to close one of these tough tests," he said. "When I have closed one of these tough tests, I know from experience, it is easier the next time." His next chance will come at next week's Shanghai Masters, which is followed on his schedule by the Paris Masters, the season-ending World Tour Finals in London and Spain's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic.

"I'm going to continue working, just try to be there every week and, when you are there every week, finally you get your goal," he said. "I don't know if it will be in Shanghai, in Paris, in London or next year. The important thing is to be happy playing, be healthy ... and you will, for sure, have more chances to play more finals." * Reuters