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Defeated Rafa Nadal is keeping the faith

By Nick Purewal

Published 17/06/2015

Keeping positive: Rafael Nadal is optimistic of his chances at Wimbledon despite Queen’s loss
Keeping positive: Rafael Nadal is optimistic of his chances at Wimbledon despite Queen’s loss

Rafael Nadal insists slipping to a first-round Aegon Championships defeat at the hands of world number 79 Alex Dolgopolov will not dent his Wimbledon preparations.

On his first Queen's Club outing in four years, Nadal was unable to pull off a win to delight his watching celebrity friends Jose Mourinho and Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain.

Dolgopolov's wily slice and top-spin tactics tied Nadal up in knots, the Ukrainian triumphing 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

Nadal has already conceded that his poor form fully warranted him relinquishing his French Open title for the first time since 2009, but does not view his early Queen's exit as any problem.

"This week I lost an opportunity, but my thoughts are no different today from yesterday," said Nadal, who approached Queen's in good spirits after claiming his first title on grass in five years at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.

"I am playing better than before and enjoying it more. I lost, I accept that but I'll keep going, and I hope to be ready to play well at Wimbledon.

"I am not happy I lost a match I had a chance to win, but that's it, that's tennis on grass."

Big Real Madrid fan Nadal admitted he was proud to have ex-Bernabeu boss Mourinho in his corner, but said it would not be appropriate to seek sporting advice from the current Chelsea manager.

Mourinho backed Nadal in his continued quest for top form, saying: "I'm Rafa's friend so I have to say I'm not happy with the match. But I'm happy with the Rafa I saw."

Nadal has not reached a Wimbledon quarter-final since 2011 when he finished runner-up at SW19, but still believes he can set that record straight this year after finally beating long-standing knee problems.

"It's good to have supporters in the crowd but that's not an inspiration, not an extra pressure," said Nadal. "I play my game. I try to do my best in every single match, not try to play better if someone is in the crowd.

"Jose is a football manager, he's one of the best in the world. And I have my team (of coaches).

"I would never give him advice on football and he will probably not be giving me any advice on tennis."

Nick Kyrgios, meanwhile, vowed he would not "think about tennis for a week" after finding it "difficult to engage" in his straight-sets defeat to Stan Wawrinka at the Aegon Championships.

Kyrgios complained he battled illness and mental demons during his 6-3 6-4 first-round loss at the hands of the reigning French Open champion.

A nonplussed Wawrinka claimed no knowledge of Kyrgios' problems, hinting the 20-year-old had indulged in a spot of kidology ahead of Wimbledon.

On hearing Kyrgios was under the weather, Wawrinka replied: "He's saying a lot of things every day. I'm sure he's not going to switch off (ahead of Wimbledon)."

A dejected Kyrgios said: "I just wasn't able to settle. He hasn't had much time on grass but obviously his confidence is high after winning the French Open. He's hitting the ball massive and pretty sweet.

"I almost found it difficult to get myself engaged, I didn't want to be there. I've been having enough time on court and practising okay, but I found it tough. I don't usually cough just because I can, but I'm obviously not feeling great.

"I've been sick for the last week. I'm probably going to stay in my house for a couple of days, sleep, play computer games, chill out. I'll turn off the tennis channels and delete my ATP app on my phone. I won't think about tennis for a week or so."

When asked if his defeat came about due to illness, mentality or a combination, Kyrgios responded: "I think it's a bit of both. I've been battling mentally, so I think it's a bit of both."

Wawrinka, lucky plaid French Open shorts and all, was composure personified in breezing past Kyrgios, picking up where he left off in Roland Garros with little issue.

The 30-year-old Swiss will now face Kevin Anderson in the second round at Queen's.

Belfast Telegraph

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