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Nadal links filming, defeats and unknowns

He, who shows the competitive vein whenever there is a scoreboard in between, be it Ludo, in ping-pong and of course on the court, the defeat stings him (7-6 (4), 3-6 and 10-6 against Denis Shapovalov) even if it is an exhibition. It is the second in twenty-four hours, but the final reading and the breadth of vision, says Rafael Nadal, is positive because his Christmas stay in Abu Dhabi basically pursued one objective: “It is accomplished. I have played two games and have been on the court for more or less four hours in the last two days ”. Of course, with the nuance it puts the situation and contextualizes, it specifies where it is: “Maybe too hard after so long …”.

That is, Nadal has a few steps left to look like Nadal, and not the one of his best version, but the one who aspires to compete next season (already in sight, without truce the world of tennis) against the peloton of young and new aspirants running to end the tyrannical rule of veterans. He yielded in the first drill to Andy Murray, after almost half a year without fighting, and fell again in front of Shapovalov, in another test that, beyond the result, served as a physical scale: his left foot, which separated him from the competition from the 6th August for the chronic hoffitis that suffers, resists. Now there is an asterisk. He warned again.

In the final tiebreaker, the number six first interrupted a horizontal run to respond to a winner, then scooped up his leg and controlled his footfall as he went diagonally to hunt down a Shapovalov volley. From there, he protected himself.

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Now, the Spaniard will return home to assess the condition and, if necessary, continue filming. If there is the green light, he would later travel to Melbourne to play a preparatory tournament (from January 3 to 9) that would offer a much more reliable clue in what conditions he could land in the first big of the year, which starts on the 17th. In any case, Nadal did not confirm his participation in the Australian Open and left the emirate with a bittersweet aftertaste: he tried himself and the workload increased, but at the same time time is scarce and the double examination places him before a complex reality.

“It has been a good week, I have to be satisfied. This is a first step and I hope to be ready for Australia ”, expressed the champion of 20 majors. “I have to talk to my team and then I will make a decision. My wish is to go, but I will see how the body feels after these intense days. At this point in my career, I have to weigh each movement carefully, because I know what I was going through, ”added the one from Manacor, which this Saturday leaned after 2h 04m.

The goblin is not lost

Shapovalov (22 years old) has little or nothing to do with Murray (34). The Scotsman is the pause, the tactic, the trench and the method, while the Canadian, dynamite on the racket, vertigo from start to finish, proposes the opposite. He is not interested in rallying and proposes a constant Russian roulette, with points to three or four shots and tennis from one direction. That, coupled with his left-handed condition and dynamism – you never know where he can come out, blows and offensive resources of all colors – bothered Nadal from the first ball and introduced the Spaniard into a tunnel of doubts during almost everything the first partial.

The Mallorcan, used to having the situation under control, faces in this umpteenth return to the circumstance of having to get on a moving train that, in addition, circulates faster and faster. The new batch has released the handbrake, has let go of complexes and faces the giants with determination. It is not lacking for Shapovalov, who started with the turbo and attacked the first turn of the rival's service to snatch it from him and divert him towards that alley of uncertainties. The blow allowed him to handle the opening set practically at will, with accelerations and hard braking that punished Nadal.

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Nadal, return and rehearsal in Abu Dhabi

The champion of 20 greats escaped the odd fuss and marked the gesture after the error: “So Rafa, like this!” It was not a day for flourishes or to enjoy, but it was to compete. That is not lost. Not in your case. In tow, without mastering the timing and at times disorderly, he was dragged by the torrential electricity of the Canadian (14th in the world) and he opted simply to resist, in his own way, nailing the ice ax with faith so as not to give in to jerks. Thus he survived, and thus the goblin was uncovered. When history had become uglier, when Shapovalov threatened to close, he struck.

The help of the tape, a ball badly touched by the Canadian and another misinterpretation gave him his first option of break . Bingo, and from there to the tiebreaker. And in that territory, Nadal's aurea, also benefited by the emotional jab of the adversary, who suddenly everything was going against him, even the public. The boy did not manage the palms well when the Balearic Islands, also pissed off with a spectator who applauded his mistake, but in the second set he ended up recomposing himself and imposed the rhythm again, excessive at this point for a Nadal without mileage or spark.

The Mallorcan was long, who conceded the break (for 5-3) and in the super tie-break he had already lost all the bellows, pending above all not to force so as not to hurt the damaged foot.

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