Down the line: Nadal's silver lining ahead of Aus Open

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  • Keep going: Rafael Nadal must accept that he will lose a few matches along the way.

    Andy Murray’s last match of 2014 was a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Roger Federer in the World Tour Finals in London. A blow that could knock the wind out of the strongest of heavyweights and one that could also shatter one’s confidence.

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    But when I asked Murray how he viewed that defeat, he said it was unfair to judge an entire season by one match and that “it’s happened to everyone. It’s happened to Roger before, he had a very tough match once against Rafa (Nadal) at the finals of the French Open. It has happened to much better players than me.”

    It’s certainly a wise way to look at it. In simple terms, it is indeed one match.

    Which is a good way Rafael Nadal – and his panicking fans – could look at his opening round defeat to 34-year-old Michael Ber­rer (below) in Doha last week. It’s just one match.

    But is it really? Over the past sev­en months, Nadal has contested just 12 matches and has lost half of them. Those losses came to the follow­ing players Dustin Brown (ranked No85 at the time), Nick Kyrgios (144), Martin Klizan (56), Feliciano Lopez (21), Borna Coric (124) and Berrer (127).

    On their own, these defeats paint a bleak picture for the Spaniard. But taking into consideration the bad luck he’s had with a wrist injury followed by appendicitis, those setbacks make some sense.

    Still the fact remains that right now, Nadal lacks confidence and is in desperate need of match wins.

    His opponents know it too, which is why they are able to swing their hardest against him and pounce on the tiniest opportunity.

    Nadal has come back from tougher injuries and history has shown that he always lands on his feet. But right now, he is in a tight spot. Should he have commenced this season on the clay of South America in February like he did in 2013? Or was it right to choose to play the hard court events of Doha and the Australian Open?

    Clay is obviously the surface he is most confident on, and some match wins there would get him back on track mentally.

    But wasting more time away from the court is also not doing him any good.

    He’s chosen the path of playing Australia (although there are few reports doubting his participation), and the key right now for Nadal is not to focus on results. Mishaps like the one he has had against Ber­rer seem inevitable at the moment and he simply must accept that.

    Something tells me a classic Rafa comeback will soon materialise.

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