(Reuters) - Rafa Nadal believes he can recover from his crushing French Open quarter-final defeat by Novak Djokovic and return even stronger.
The Spaniard, who turned 29 on Wednesday when he was beaten 7-5 6-3 6-1 by world number one Djokovic, only his second defeat in 11 years at Roland Garros, said he was no longer suffering from the physical problems that affected him last year.
“I hope I’ll be able to continue on the tour, and before the end of the year I’d like to be even fitter and to work on the parts of my game that I have to work on,” Nadal said.
”Physically I have to be good. You know, last year I had some physical incidents, but so far this year I feel good. I‘m not injured. This is something very important.
“You know, when you’re injured, there is not much you can do. So far, as I was saying, everything is good.”
Nadal showed fleeting glimpses of his best against Djokovic but was nowhere near the level that earned him nine French Open titles, striking only three forehand winners.
The Mallorcan has one only won title, in Buenos Aires in March, since winning his ninth Roland Garros crown last year.
While defeat against Djokovic was perhaps not unexpected, this season he has also suffered claycourt defeats at the hands of Italian Fabio Fognini (twice), Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray, raising question marks about his form.
Nadal says he needs to recover his confidence.
“I‘m gonna come back next year and I‘m gonna try to be competitive, to try to be better prepared than this year, and try to arrive with a little bit more confidence,” he said.
After heading back to Mallorca for some fishing and rest, Nadal will turn his thoughts to the grasscourt season.
He is entered into a new event in Stuttgart, then plays at Queen’s Club before Wimbledon.
“Last year I didn’t play bad on grass. I played a good Wimbledon. I had a good chance to be in the quarter-finals,” Nadal, who was stunned by Australian Nick Kyrgios, said.
“I lost a match that I could win.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Sudipto Ganguly