Rafael Nadal has impressively used the disappointment of losing the Wimbledon semi-final to Novak Djokovic to win his fourth Rogers Cup title in Toronto, former British number one Annabel Croft has said.
The player-turned-television presenter shed light on how disappointed and angry Nadal had felt after his bid for a third Wimbledon title ended in the penultimate step at the All England Tennis Club last month.
Nadal was the overwhelming favourite at the grass-court Grand Slam, especially after Roger Federer's exit in the quarter-final. However, the Spaniard was outclassed by a resolute Djokovic in a five-set marathon — 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(11), 3-6, 10-8.
Nadal 'used the Wimbledon disappointment' to shine in Toronto
"He [Nadal] was so intense trying to win another Wimbledon title. We know he was so angry when he came off the court against Novak and he wasn't happy about that," Croft said, as quoted by the Daily Express.
She added: "To use that disappointment to come straight back out and win the first tournament he's entered after Wimbledon was very impressive. I think we're seeing a lot more animation from Rafael these days."
Nadal was handed a tricky draw at Rogers Cup. He faced three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka as early as in the third round and was made to work hard for his win by the Swiss star.
The numero uno then needed three sets to beat world number Marin Cilic in the quarter-final before he beat Karen Khachanov with relative ease in the semi-final.
Rogers Cup win important: Nadal
On Sunday, Nadal was relentlessly putting pressure against 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-year-old had defeated four top 10 players — Dominic Thiem, Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson — in the lead up to the final but was struggling to match Nadal's intensity in the first set.
However, Tsitsipas stepped up and forced a tie-breaker. At a point in the set, Nadal was battling to save a set point. The experienced Spaniard though kept his calm to complete a 6-2, 7-6(4) win.
"The 80th tournament win is, of course, a great number, an important one. I'm very happy. But it's about another Masters 1000. Masters 1000s are tournaments that are so difficult to win, sometimes are even more difficult to win Masters 1000s than Grand Slams because you can't avoid tough opponents. And that's it," an elated Nadal said.
The 32-year-old also announced on Sunday that he would be skipping the upcoming Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati, starting later today.
Nonetheless, a Masters 1000 title and a couple of week's rest should keep in good mental and physical state at the season's final Grand Slam tournament — US Open.