Rafael Nadal's comeback following a foot injury did not get off to the best star after the Spaniard was knocked out in the third round of the Citi Open in Washington. It was the former world number one's first outing since losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the French Open.
The 13-time Roland Garros champion was disappointed after his tough three-set loss to South Africa's Lloyd Harris, but was keen to take the positives from the match. Nadal admitted to feeling pain in his foot during his win over Jack Sock, but said after his loss that it felt much better, which was a good sign going forward.
"The most positive thing is my foot was better today than yesterday, so that's the best news possible," Nadal said, as quoted on the ATP Tour website. "I played against a player that played well. For the moment, I think I played better than yesterday, but in the third when I had opportunities, the truth is his serve was huge and I played this last game really badly."
Nadal was in with a shot of winning the deciding set serving at 4-5 and he was the only player to have earned a break point up until that point. However, Harris stepped up his game and went on to break the Spaniard to a earn a well deserved 6-4. 1-6, 6-4 win over the 20-time men's singles Grand Slam champion.
"You can't have mistakes in the key moments, and in the key moments I think in the last game, I was a little bit more nervous. My serve was not working the proper way," Nadal added. "That's it. Yes, well done for him. It's a great victory for him. I wish him all the very best."
The Citi Open was Nadal's first tournament since Roland Garros. The 35-year-old skipped Wimbledon and the Olympic Games to recover from the foot injury that forced him to stop playing for 20 days. Nadal admitted that his foot feeling better was the most important aspect going into into future tournaments with the US Open his main focus.
"I was able to move a bit better, so that is very important, especially for me personally, to keep enjoying the sport and keep having energy, believing that important things are possible," the Spanish star said.