US Open: 'He was better than me' – Nadal laments poor performance, father time after loss

·2-min read

Rafael Nadal was frustrated by his performance when speaking with the media after his upset loss against Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, admitting "he was better than me".

Nadal only allowed two total break point opportunities from the first three sets, but he was unable to save either, leading to Tiafoe taking the first and third frames.

The all-time leader in men's grand slams then was uncharacteristically shaky in the fourth, committing four double faults and more unforced errors (nine) than winners (seven).

While reporters questioned if it was the oppressive humidity, injuries, or even the distraction of the roof closing mid-match, Nadal made it clear his poor performance had a much simpler explanation.

"Well, the difference is easy," he said. "I played a bad match and he played a good match. At the end that's it, no?

"I was not able to hold a high level of tennis for a long time. I was not quick enough on my movements. He was able to take the ball too many times very early, so I was not able to push him back.

"Tennis is a sport of position a lot of times – if not, you need to be very, very quick and very young. I am not in that moment anymore.

"My shots need to be better. In some way my understanding of the game and the quality of my shots were not good enough. They were poor, I think I have to say today, because I was not able to create that much on him.

"Well done for him. He was better than me."

With the last grand slam of the year now in the books for Nadal, he said he will take some time away to recuperate, but was non-committal about when he may return.

"I need to go back [home], I need to fix things, life," he said. "Then I don't know when I'm going to come back.

"I'm going to try to be ready mentally. When I feel that I will be ready to compete again, I will be there."