Rafael Nadal left Washington DC with positive feelings on his foot injury and the summer ahead despite losing in the third round of the Citi Open to Lloyd Harris.
Playing his first tournament since the French Open in early June, Nadal battled past Jack Sock in his opening match before falling to Harris in three sets.
The top seed was beaten 6-4 1-6 6-4 by the world No 50, but took some positives from his performance despite the early exit.
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“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,” said the world No 3, who revealed before the tournament that he had gone 20 days without playing tennis due to his left foot injury.
“And then I need to keep improving. It’s true. I honestly didn't have two easy months. I had a lot of problems with my foot. I was not able to practise all the days that I really wanted, but I did as much as I could and I tried hard here.
“The most positive thing is my foot was better today than yesterday, so that's the best news possible.
“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.”
The decisive moment in the match came in the final set when Nadal was broken when he was serving at 4-5 down.
“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,” said Nadal.
“That's it. Yes, well done for him. It’s a great victory for him. I wish him all the very best.”
Nadal will next turn his attentions to the National Bank Open in Toronto, where he can break a tie with Novak Djokovic for the most ATP Masters 1000 titles.
Both players are currently on 36, and the event will be without several top-10 players, including Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini.
“The most painful thing is not be able to be on court again tomorrow in front of this amazing crowd,” added Nadal. “But I take a great experience [with] me. I was able to know a new city, for me a very important one. I enjoyed it, and the support and the love of the people will stay [with] me.
“I tried very hard, as everybody knows. But it was not enough. The only thing I can do is congratulate my opponent and just keep going. I’m going to keep trying to practise the proper way and to give myself a chance to be better soon.”
Second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime also suffered a surprise defeat as he was beaten by talented young American Jenson Brooksby.
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Playing in his first ATP 500 event, Brooksby impressed as he won 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 25 minutes.
"I have definitely gotten mentally tougher this year, and it's only kept improving. I just really love, truly love playing on these stages," Brooksby said.
"No opponent will faze me. I can compete with anyone. This was definitely a very good match today for me. I stayed really focussed throughout. I didn't really have any lapses in my strategy or mentally. I'm happy with that match."
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