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Rafa not giving up just yet

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 05-09-2016 skysports.com

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Rafa Nadal says he was happy with his effort and prospects going forward this season despite suffering a shock fourth-round defeat at the US Open to Frenchman Lucas Pouille on Sunday. 

The fourth-seeded Spaniard felt that he squandered an opportunity to do something special at Flushing Meadows this year with his 6-1 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 (8-6) exit prolonging the 14-time Grand Slam title winner's quarter-final drought at major tournaments.

Nadal, a two-time US Open champion, breezed through his opening three matches in Week 1, dropping only 20 games combined. But since losing in last year's French Open quarter-finals he has failed to make it beyond the fourth round at a major.

Pouille, a 22-year-old with flashy groundstrokes, pushed the world No 5 to the limit over four hours and a fifth-set tiebreak.

This season, Nadal has lost in the first round of the Australian Open and then pulled out of the French Open before his third-round match because of a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, an injury that forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon altogether and miss about two months on the ATP Tour.

"I fight until the end," Nadal said following his defeat. "There were things I could do better. I had the right attitude. I fought right up to the last ball.

"But I need something else, I need something more that was not there today. I am going to keep working to try to find."

Nadal came back from more than two months of inaction to compete last month at the Rio Olympics and won gold in doubles with Marc Lopez as well as reaching the singles semi-finals where he lost to Juan Martin del Potro.

While he reports continued improvement in his left wrist, the 30-year-old Spaniard knows he still has a way to go.

"It's true that I don't have lot of matches on my shoulders for the last three, four months, but even like this I lost an opportunity," Nadal said.

"I lost an opportunity to have a very good event here. I am sad for that. I need to keep improving the level of tennis to be back where I was before the injury."

Nadal said that although the Grand Slam season is over, he still has goals to finish on a high and to add to the Monte Carlo and Barcelona titles he has already won in 2016.

"I have the motivation to keep working," he said. "I needed to serve better in some moments. I needed to create more pain on the opponent with my shots. That was something that I didn't make today.

"I have a few months to finish the season, to try to be qualified for the World Tour Finals. That will be a good effort, if I make that happen after two months and a half without competition. I am going to fight for it.

"My wrist is improving a lot. That looks like the injury is at the end of the process. I am ready to keep playing. That's what my body is asking me now."

Sky Sports tennis expert Barry Cowan feels Nadal has it in him to win another Grand Slam title but fears injuries may knock him back.

"The concern for Rafa is the injuries he keeps getting," Cowan told Sky Sports HQ. "He's always been a player that builds momentum. The more tournaments he plays, the better he plays and the more confident he is.

"Rafa's still talking positively and you still want Rafa to get back being competitive for Slams, but at the moment, he's not really.

"Unfortunately, I think there might be an injury just around the corner and I think that knocks his momentum."

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