Rafael Nadal of Spain looks at the runners-up trophy after being defeated by Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the men's singles final at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 3, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
LONDON - Rafa Nadal lost the Wimbledon final on Sunday and will concede the number one ranking to his conqueror Novak Djokovic but the gritty Spaniard has known worse times.
"You know what is the toughest moment? In Australia in 2010 when I had to go out with an injury. That is the toughest moment," the 10-times grand slam winner told reporters.
Nadal is famous for his never-say-die mentality, so having to pull out of the Australian Open quarter-final against Andy Murray was as tough a time as the 25-year-old has known.
That withdrawal led to fears for his future, especially after the woes of 2009 where he missed the French Open and Wimbledon, but Nadal responded by winning three grand slams last year and his fitness troubles are now a thing of the past.
"After playing eight finals this year, winning Roland Garros a few weeks ago, playing the final here cannot be the toughest loss of my career," Nadal said, reflecting on a year that but for Djokovic could have ranked amongst his most dominant.
"Last five times wasn't my time. I'm gonna wait and I'm gonna try a sixth time," Nadal said of his five successive 2011 losses to Djokovic, all in finals.
"And if the sixth doesn't happen, or the seventh. It's going to be like this. That's the spirit of the sport.
"I understand the sport like this. When one player is better than you, at that moment the only thing you can do is work, try to find solutions, and try to wait a little bit for your time."
Given Nadal's bullish determination he will probably not have to wait long, and should Djokovic's form dip from the sensational 48 wins and just one defeat in 2011 the Spaniard will be waiting.
"For me when I was winning three grand slams last year, my level of last year is not forever. Probably the level of Novak of today is not forever. I'm gonna be here fighting all the time, waiting for my moment to beat him another time."