Melbourne, 27 January 2011 | AAP
World No.1 Rafael Nadal says calm acceptance and hard work will be pivotal to turning his second consecutive Australian Open disappointment into another successful year.
Nadal’s quest for four consecutive grand slam titles came to a bleak end on Wednesday night, as a hamstring injury early in his quarter-final against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer ruined his chances.
Nadal cut a morose figure as he limped to a 6-4 6-2 6-3 loss.
But he said retiring with a knee injury against Andy Murray in a quarter-final a year earlier had hurt more.
And just as he rebounded then to enjoy a career-best year – with French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles – he expected to make a strong return.
“Accept, keep working, try my best in the next tournament – that’s what I can do,” Nadal said.
“Last year I had a fantastic year. This year the year just started. Last year in the beginning I had problems, too, and finally it was the best season of my career.
“I think it is almost impossible to repeat that … I am a very, very lucky sportsman about what happened in my career. And I have to accept the fantastic moments that I had during a lot of years with the same calm that (I do) when I have problems.
“If I am ready to accept both things, (treating) everything the same, I’m going to be able to come back and play my best tennis.”
Nadal said he did not contemplate retiring against Ferrer, as he did against Murray in 2010 for the only time in his grand slam career.
“I hate that moment. I didn’t want to repeat that,” he said.
Nadal said it was impossible for any player to be constantly at their physical peak, but the challenge of trying to defy the gruelling nature of the professional tennis circuit was part of what he loved about the sport.
He said the virus which dogged him in the lead-up to the Open had probably had an indirect effect on his downfall.
“When you have a virus, your body goes down and you have more risk of everything. That’s probably what happened. That’s the simple thing,” he said.
“Now we have to accept. I’ve said it 100 times, but the only thing I can say is, accept the situation and work to try to have another very good season.”