The result was not what was expected, but Rafael Nadal’s losing weekend was a step in the right direction. After being defeated in the singles final 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 to Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos, Nadal had a good outlook.
"I was two points away from winning the title, but I said from first day that the result was not the most important thing, although I would've liked to win,” said Nadal,”My opponent won, he deserved it and I congratulate him. Still, to win four matches in a row is good news for me."
Nadal and Argentine Juan Monaco also lost in the doubles final to Italians Potito Starace and Paolo Lorenzi at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, Chile.
As this was a level ATP 250 tournament, many thought that Nadal would claim both championships. Although it has been seven months since the world ranked no. 5 has played in a tournament, this was clay where Nadal has been untouchable.
What is hard to ignore is Nadal’s mastery of clay courts. Along with earning his first Tour title, world ranked 43 Zeballos became only the third player after Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to beat the Spaniard. Out of 41 clay court finals, this is only Nadal’s fifth loss.
While many have been sounding the panic alerts, Nadal himself had a positive view of the results.
"A week ago we didn't know how the body would respond," said the 26-year-old Mallorcan. "[Now] at least I know we can compete at a certain level. I think that was a positive week... I will try to keep improving my physical sensations day-by-day, which is the most important thing because I don't feel that my tennis level is bad. I need more time on court.”
Nadal has two more South American tournaments before the European clay court swing where he was undefeated last year.
Next for Nadal on his comeback tour is the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo where Nadal is again seeded No. 1.