Tennis: Tour Finals loss can't take shine off Nadal's dream year

AFP, Tuesday 12 Nov 2013

Rafael Nadal says he enjoyed a special year despite failing to win a first ATP World Tour Finals title

Rafael Nadal of Spain adjusts his headband during his men's final singles tennis match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 11, 2013. Nadal lost the match to Djokovic. (Photo: REUTERS)

Rafael Nadal insists his failure to win a first ATP World Tour Finals title can't take the shine off one of the best seasons of his career.

Nadal had hoped to finish a glorious 2013 campaign by beating Novak Djokovic in the final of the prestigious Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena on Monday.

But the world number one suffered one of his few painful defeats this year as Djokovic cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Yet the 27-year-old was adamant there was no way one loss was going to take anything away from his achievements over the last 10 months.

Exactly one year ago Nadal was battling knee tendinitis and feared he would never return to the top of the sport.

But since coming back in February he has won 10 titles, including the French and US Opens, and regained his position on top of the world rankings.

"It's very special what happened this year. For me, the emotions of this year after a tough time have been fantastic," Nadal said.

"All the achievements, all the success that I had this year, I am talking 100 percent honestly now, without my family and all my team it's impossible to do what I did, with so much success and so many special moments.

"It's the day to say congratulations and thanks to all the people who were behind me supporting me and helped me work in the days when I was down."

The loss denied Nadal a place in the record books as he would have become only the second man after Andre Agassi to have won all four Grand Slams, an Olympic gold medal, the Davis Cup and the Tour Finals.

But, asked if he was frustrated to have missed out on such a rare achievement, Nadal said: "No. That's the sport. Seriously, I don't think winning or losing today is going to change my career.

"I will not be a better player whether I won or lost. Maybe I am wrong, but that's my feeling.

"I normally accept losses very well and I am not very disappointed about this one.

"I know that I was not the favourite for the match, even if I tried with the right attitude, fighting for every moment, trying to be positive in every moment, even if the match was not going the way that I would like.

"So the only thing that I can say is to congratulate the opponent."

Although Nadal holds a 22-17 edge over Djokovic in their 39 meetings, the world number two has now won the last two clashes, in Beijing and London, prompting some to suggest he remains the man to beat in 2014 despite the Spaniard's brilliant run of form.

Nadal is up for the challenge and is already looking ahead to a potential showdown at the Australian Open in January.

"I felt that I was playing well enough to be little bit closer than the score. But at the end, I lost 6-3, 6-4. I lost because the opponent played better than me," Nadal said.

"I didn't feel that he changed his tactics. I felt he played better than me.

"We were playing in a hard court that he likes more than me. Even if I beat him twice in the American hard court season, the normal thing is he's a little bit better player than me on this surface.

"I hope to be ready for the Australian Open to play my best again.

"It's a little bit more of a favourable court for me. I'm going to try to prepare myself as well as I can."

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