Rafael Nadal has been bundled out of the Shanghai Masters in the third round by Florian Mayer. Mayer played an incredibly varied, intelligent game to throw the Spaniard off his game, winning 7-6, 6-3 in just an hour and 48 minutes.
Mayer credited his improved mental toughness for the win, but the truth is he played an incredible match. “I just am maybe a little bit fitter mentally and physically. Maybe that’s two per cent or three per cent more. I’m serving very well. Mix it up with serve and volley.”
Mayer was forced to cling on as Nadal managed to come back from behind and force a tiebreak but the German once again proved that a little bit of serve and volley goes a long way against Nadal.
For Nadal the loss just adds to the growing pile of disappointments for the season. By no stretch of the imagination has Nadal had a bad season – he’s made ten finals, and won three – but at the big moments Nadal has failed to come up with the goods. What makes this unusual is the fact that Nadal is famous for his ability to play scrappy matches and fight to the end and yet his fighting spirit seems to have been slightly diluted by self doubt, and at the elite level it only takes a slight drop in form to see yourself beaten.
Mayer now faces another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez.
“He played really well. I didn’t. I felt that I was not playing bad from the baseline. But my return, when he was serving the first serve, was terrible tonight. I only won four points in the whole match on his first serve. So I cannot expect win a match when the opponent is playing well, is serving well, is doing very good serve and volleys, returning, and only winning four points with returning the first serve. Congratulate him.
For me today is disappointing day. I think I was doing everything right, practising with good motivation, practising well in general. I had a good result [at the] US Open. I had a good result last week. Today is a tough loss, that’s the truth. Was not my day. I am out of the tournament. I am going to work hard for the next tournament.”