ATP Tour

Nadal getting to grips with 'mental injury'

Rafael Nadal (AFP)
Rafael Nadal (AFP)

Shanghai - Rafael Nadal on Tuesday said he had shaken off his foot problem from the China Open final - and added that he was also recovering from the "mental injury" he blames for his struggles on court this year.

Nadal, speaking ahead of the Shanghai Masters, said the foot injury which gave him a "scary moment" during Sunday's 6-2, 6-2 loss to Novak Djokovic had disappeared by Monday morning.

And he also said he was finally getting to grips with the loss of confidence which unnerved him this year as he failed to win a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2004.

"Sometimes I recover from injuries. This time what I had, with my not having the control of my nerves or my emotion, is like coming back from an injury, too," he told reporters.

"It's not a physical injury, but it's a mental injury. And this for me is another challenge."

Despite the lopsided score line in Sunday's final against the world number one, seventh-ranked Nadal enjoyed a positive tournament in Beijing as he reached his first hard-court title match all year.

And the 29-year-old maintained he was heading in the right direction to return to the sort of level which has brought him 14 Grand Slam titles.

"I am working hard. I've never had such a long period of time without playing at the level that I wanted," Nadal said.

"I lost the matches that I should win, close matches, third-set matches. None of these important matches, I won none of those ones. So sometimes it's like a restart," he added.

"I believe that I am much better. I don't know what the results are going to be till the end of the season. But I really believe if I continue with the same quality of practices, the same health of my body, I really hope and I believe that I can start the next year with (more) energy and I believe another level."

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