Rafael Nadal suffered what he deemed his worst loss of the year when he fell to 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov at the Rogers Cup on Thursday – but the Canadian teen, he said in his press conference after the match, had one distinct advantage: He had nothing to lose.
Q. Are you a little bit surprised at 18 years old he didn’t crack? His nerves were good the whole time.
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, no. That’s normal, no? I have been in that situation. If I don’t remember back with 18 years old, I win Roland Garros. Is something that I don’t know why should happen, when you have 18, to don’t hold the nerves.
In my opinion, is much more easy when you have 18 than when you have 30.
Q. Were you surprised he was able to fight back against all those breakpoints you had on him?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. He has nothing to lose. Is win-to-win for him. If he lose playing a good match, was good for him. If he lose in straight sets, already he played a good tournament. If he win, he’s amazing. He won. Is amazing for him. Just well done for him. Is a great story. And I am not happy to be part of this story. That’s it, no?
In an interview after beating Juan Del Potro earlier this week, Shapovalov explained how he manages expectations, even as they continue to skyrocket:
Yeah, for me, first of all, I play for myself, not for whatever people think of me. So that alone, I have no problem with that. I know what I’m capable of playing. Obviously I do surprise myself, like today, sometimes.
But yeah, I mean, at the end of the day it’s a sport. People go up, people go down. You have good weeks, bad weeks. It happens all the time. You just have to maintain. Sometimes you have to find it within yourself.
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