Vowing to return stronger but promising nothing, Rafael Nadal was philosophical after suffering his first French Open defeat in six years and 40 matches.
Nadal’s 7-5 6-3 6-1 quarter-final loss to Novak Djokovic ended the Spaniard’s quest for an absurd 10th title in Roland Garros in 2015 and will send the dethroned king spiralling down to 10th in the new world rankings next week.
“Next week we will have other competitions and such is life,” said Nadal, hardly bothered that his defeat – just the second of his career in Paris – also came on his 29th birthday.
“In my case, life will continue whether I win or lose.
“I have been very successful here for nine of 11 years. Everybody loses in every place. That day arrived for me today.
“I always accept defeats. One thing for sure is there is only one sure thing. I need to work harder and come back stronger.”
After 12 months battling all kinds of injury and illness, Nadal said he never really expected to lift the trophy again this year anyway.
“It is not a big surprise, no, after (a) year that I didn’t win enough before here,” he said.
“(It was) something that could happen. When you see the draw – quarter-finals against Novak – obvious that is early, a big match like that.
“I was playing fine. I am happy the way that I recovered my level the last month, but probably not enough yet to play against and to win against Novak.
“I had my moments but, in general, Novak has been under control most of the time.
“So he was better than me. That’s it. Here it is simple: when the opponent plays better than you and is in better shape than you, then it can happen.
“That happened and I just congratulate him.”
Nadal’s only other loss in a decade at Roland Garros came against sledgehammer Swede Robin Soderling in 2009.
He rebounded to reign for another five straight years before Wednesday’s loss.
“I’m going to fight,” Nadal said.
“I lost in 2009 and it was not the end. I lost in 2015 and is not the end.
“I hope to be back here the next year with another chance.”
But he knows there are no guarantees.
“The only thing that is sure is I have won nine times,” Nadal said.
“I don’t know if I’m going to win 10, but nine I’ve already won.
“I’m going to come back next year and I’m going to try to be competitive, to try to be better prepared than this year and try to arrive with a little bit more confidence.
“But, yeah, I don’t like to talk about dynasty or these kind of things.”
Nadal said he planned to tune up for Wimbledon at grasscourt events next week in Stuttgart and then at the traditional lead-up tournament at the Queen’s Club in London.