PARIS, France - Rafa Nadal brushed off talks of retiring anytime soon after the 22-times Grand Slam champion was stunned by Cameron Norrie in the United Cup mixed team tournament on Saturday, saying he still enjoyed competing at the highest level.
Nadal's preparations for his Australian Open title defence got off to a shaky start as Norrie beat him 3-6 6-3 6-4 to seal his first victory over the 36-year-old Spaniard in their fifth career meeting.
Faced with a question on whether defeats at this stage in his career left him more determined to play as long as could or acknowledge that things were getting difficult, Nadal simply said retirement was not on his mind yet.
''I lost my match. That's it, no? Every time I come to a press conference it seems that I have to retire. So you are very interested on my retirement. I mean, that, for the moment, isn't the case'', a smiling Nadal told reporters.
''When the day arrives, I'm going to let you know, guys. Don't keep going (on) with the retirement, because I'm here to keep playing tennis''.
Nadal, whose 2022 season began in complete contrast as he went on a 20-match winning spree, said the early defeat ahead of the new season was not a disaster.
''I can do things better and I need to do it. He played his first match two days ago, that's an advantage, especially if you win the match they that he did'', Nadal added.
''And then I need to be a little bit faster physically, a little bit more solid, some less mistakes and make better decisions at some points, playing a little bit longer.
''All credit to him that he did a lot of things very well. In case, I think there's a way to improve but I have time before the Australian Open starts in two weeks. Either way, we still focus on this competition''.