While reflecting on the 2011 Wimbledon final, Rafael Nadal has admitted that his defeat to Novak Djokovic was down a mental weakness on his part which was forged in the build-up to the game.
Sunday’s 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3 loss was Nadal’s fifth of the year to the Serb, who on Monday morning takes his rightful place as world number one. Nadal took a 20-match unbeaten run at Wimbledon into the match against a man playing his first final but, when the crunch moments arrived, it was Djokovic who held his nerve.
“When I was 100% to play, I lost against him five times. The rest of the year I won almost every match. So I’m doing things very well, but probably not against him. That’s what I have to change,” said Nadal.
“Probably the mental part is a little bit dangerous for me, because when I was at 5-4 (in the first set), I played a bad game from 30-0. When I was 4-3 down in the fourth set, I played another bad game with my serve. To win these kind of matches, I have to play well (at those moments). These kind of points can change the match.
“When I had the break point in the first game of the fourth set, I didn’t play that point well. That was a big moment for me. Because I came back with the 6-1, if I start the fourth with a break it can change everything.
“To change things I probably have to be a little bit less nervous, play more aggressive, and all the time be confident with myself. That’s what I’m going to try next time. If not, I’m going to be here explaining the sixth.”
Djokovic’s win made it 48 victories from 49 matches in a phenomenal season that has also brought him the Australian Open and six ATP World Tour titles, with his only defeat coming against Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals.
The 24-year-old, who secured the number one ranking with his semi-final win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday, said: “I managed to achieve a lifetime goal and I managed to make my dream come true, all in three days.
“It’s just an incredible feeling that I’m never going to forget. This is the best day of my tennis career.
“For these kind of days, I was practising every day, being dedicated, being a tennis professional. Any athlete in the world dreams of being number one.
This is something that gives us a lot of motivation. So finally when you really do it and when you know that you’re the best, it’s just an amazing achievement.”