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Hubert Hurkacz comments share new worry for Rafael Nadal after Italian Open thrashing


Hubert Hurkacz thrashed Rafael Nadal 6-1, 6-3 to progress to the third round of the Italian Open on Saturday afternoon. Nadal cast doubt on his participation at the French Open following the heavy loss.

But Hurkacz’s comments may add further cause for concern to the Spaniard after he felt he could have kept playing forever and would not have been in any trouble. Facing Nadal on clay was once dubbed the greatest challenge in sport, not just in tennis.

Opponents are no longer seeing it like so. They are now comfortable trading blows with the 22-time Grand Slam winner on his favourite surface.

“After those long games I got into a pretty good rhythm and thought, ‘I can go like this forever’, and just tried to compete,” Hurkacz said. “The score looks the way it is but I knew I had to be on the top of my game throughout the whole match, if I dropped just a little bit then he’s going to be right back there.”

Hurkacz beat Roger Federer on his favourite surface at Wimbledon and he has now inflicted the same damage on Nadal.

“I’m really proud of myself,” he added. “Playing Rafa is something special, it’s just different, especially on clay, the surface that he has dominated over the past 20 years. No-one will ever have a record like him on this surface.

“Growing up, looking up to him, seeing him win all those titles, here and at the French Open…it was special experience. I wanted to play him so much, especially on clay, just being able to share the court and especially the atmosphere at the beginning of the match, how people really love him and support him throughout his whole career.”

Meanwhile, Nadal felt the scoreline was harsh after he only won one game in the first set. The 37-year-old explained: “I think have been a tough one, obviously. It’s obvious that I started well the match. First few games, almost half an hour first two games, having a few chances and playing well.

“Then I had the break and I lost little bit the way to push him back, the way to create that much on him. In the first set I think the score lie a little bit about what the game was. Then he was much better than me in the second. I don’t have that feeling in the first, but in the second, yeah. I was not able to push him back.

“That’s the case, no? Starts to be more difficult. Here is not the biggest court. He was serving well. It was difficult for me to return. It’s difficult to feel yourself with real chances of come back with his serve and without being able to create enough damage to him and creating mistakes.”

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