Nadal cites mental lapse for letdown loss in Rotterdam

22nd February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Disillusioned top seed Rafael Nadal blamed a surprise drop in second-set concentration for his 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Italy's Andreas Seppi at the ABN-AMRO World Tennis on Thursday.

22 February 2008

ROTTERDAM - Disillusioned top seed Rafael Nadal blamed a surprise drop in second-set concentration for his 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Italy's Andreas Seppi at the ABN-AMRO World Tennis on Thursday.

Nadal's defeat in two hours, 14 minutes completed the worst showing on the ATP since Nottingham, 2006, when all eight seeds had also been eliminated from the field by the end of the second round.

"It was not the balls, not the tennis, not the rival - I lost concentration," said the world number two, who next plays as the Barclays event in Dubai begins a week from Monday.

Nadal said that he could never manage to recover from a dramatic second-set drop in his mental state, struggling through the rest of the match against the inspired number 42 Seppi.

"I started out playing well but after the first set I had a mental letdown. I could never get it back. After that it was difficult for me," said the three-time French Open winner.

"I fought all through the match, but I couldn't come back. It's disappointing. When you are playing badly you can understand a loss - but not when you have been playing well."

Nadal will retreat to his home on Mallorca to try and cure his game; he has not won a title since Stuttgart last summer. He has now failed to gain ground on Roger Federer in the race for number one.

Seppi turned 24 in style on the day and was serenaded by the crowd after his victory. "To beat Nadal like this is something special," said Seppi. "I played every point at 110 percent, this was one of my best matches. I took the balls early and put him under pressure.

"I knew Nadal would fight until the end. I got nervous serving for the match the first time but I managed to finally win."

Seppi had lost both of his previous matches against Nadal, both played on the Spaniard's favourite clay.

Ragged Russian Davydenko, a two-time semi-finalist, was treated for right shoulder pain which he blamed on heavy balls used at the event as he went down 6-3, 7-5 to Michael Llodra of France. Davydenko looked troubled as the trainer gave his upper right arm and shoulder area a massage during on-court treatment in the second set.

The intervention didn't help the Russian as Davydenko suffered his third defeat this season against nine wins. The Russian took advantage of only one of eight break point opportunities.

Spain's Ferrer fell to delighted German qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-2, 7-5 while huge-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic accounted for Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.

Ferrer was bundled out as Zverev surprised himself by staying alive: "I thought I'd be home by tonight," said the winner who had never beaten anyone in the Top 10.

"This is surely the best win of my career."

Karlovic rained down 17 aces as he dominated Berdych.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

Subject: Dutch news

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