Rafael Nadal has vowed to keep “working hard” as he looks ahead to eyeing revenge against Novak Djokovic at the French Open. The Serbian defeated Nadal at the same tournament, which begun at the end of May, last year. Nadal is now preparing for the clay-court season after going down to Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final on Sunday.
Nadal became the most successful men’s player ever in January after he stunned Daniil Medvedev to claw back a two-set deficit and win the Australian Open. That title was the Spaniard’s 21st Grand Slam as he moved ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer at the top of the all-time leaderboard.
The 35-year-old has been in imperious form since the turn of the year and also secured the Melbourne Summer Set and the Mexican Open titles either side of his Australian Open glory. But Nadal’s attempts to win four tournaments on the bounce were thwarted by American Fritz, who outplayed his rival in California.
Fritz, who had never won an ATP Masters 1000 event before the match, made light work of his opponent in the first set to win it 6-3, before claiming the second set after a tiebreak, despite struggling with an ankle injury.
Nadal, who suffered with breathing problems during his latest final, has opted to miss the Miami Open this week and will instead turn his attention to the clay-court season. His next appearance on the court will likely come at the Monte Carlo Masters in mid-April, before tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome. And Nadal will now have aspirations to wrestle the French Open trophy back from Djokovic.
Nadal has won a staggering 13 titles at Roland Garros. And the ace revealed that he will be putting the effort in behind-the-scenes in the coming weeks, while also insisting that he’ll be back at Indian Wells next season. “Congrats to @taylor_fritz for this win at his home California and his first ATP1000 event,” Nadal wrote on Instagram.
“I’ll keep working hard and will be back here at this amazing place, amazing tournament, next year. Thanks to the great crowds and fantastic organization here. This is definitely #tennisparadise and #indianwells a very special place.”
Djokovic has only appeared at one tournament this year after he was banned from entering the Australian Open because he hasn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. He competed in the Dubai Championships last month but was knocked out by Jiri Vesely in the quarter-finals.
The 34-year-old will be allowed to play at the French Open after authorities in the country lifted their Covid passport rules.