Rafael Nadal has suggested he could take some time away from tennis following his shock US Open fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe.
Nadal was bidding to win a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title in New York but lost in a thrilling contest against the 22nd seeded American.
Ahead of the US Open he had only played one competitive match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semi-finals with an abdominal issue.
Nadal is also expecting his first child with wife Mery Perello later this year.
“I need to fix things, life, then I don’t know when I’m going to come back,” said Nadal after the loss to Tiafoe.
“I going to try to be ready mentally. When I feel that I will be ready to compete again, I will be there.
“Of course, this was not the ideal preparation for me. But in other cases it went the right way, even with not the perfect preparation, no? We can’t find excuses. We need to be enough [of a] critic with myself. That’s the only way to improve or that’s the only way that I understand you are able to find solutions.
“I have been practising well the week before, honestly. But then when the competition start, my level went down. That’s the true. For some reason, I don’t know, mental issues in terms of a lot of things happened the last couple of months. Maybe…but doesn’t matter.
“At the end the only thing that happened is we went to the fourth round of the US Open and I faced a player that was better than me. And that’s why I am having a plane back home.”
Nadal, who is scheduled to play the Laver Cup alongside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in late September, was below his best against Tiafoe.
He failed to convert the opportunities that came his way and was hit off the court by the American , who finished with 49 winners.
“The difference is easy: I played a bad match and he played a good match,” said Nadal.
“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 enough quick on my movements. He was able to take the ball too many times very early, so I was not able to push him back.
“Yeah, tennis is a sport of position a lot of times, no? If not, you need to be very, very quick and very young. I am not in that moment anymore. My shots needs to be better.
“In some way my understanding of the game and the quality of my shots were not enough good, 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.”
The result means Carlos Alcaraz or Casper Ruud could take over as world No. 1 after the US Open if they reach the final, otherwise Nadal will return to the top of the rankings for the first time since January 2020.
“I had my chances,” added Nadal.
“I had that break, then I had again a 15-40. I had a 0-30 in the first set, second serve, I missed the return. There have been a lot of moments that, if you are able to be ready to catch that point, situation can change. Can make a big difference, no?
“That’s all about confidence. It’s all about playing better because at the end this sport, it’s about give the opportunities, take the opportunities, and try to save when the opponent is doing well, no? I was not able to do anything, any of these things this afternoon. So he was able to do it. He played with the right determination. Congrats to him.”