• Nadal lost the French Open semi-final to Djokovic
  • Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon and Tokyo Games
  • He is currently ranked No. 3 among ATP players

Rafael Nadal finished the clay “exhausted” but is aiming to return for the hard-court season later this year, his coach Carlos Moya said Tuesday.

Nadal recently suffered a loss in the French Open semi-final to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. Following the defeat, the Spaniard announced that he would not be participating in the Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, keeping in mind his long run in the sport.

"The clay season has been very tough, with a lot of physical and mental pressure. Rafa finished exhausted," Moya was quoted by, as saying in an interview with 'Tablero Deportivo' on RTVE.

In 2021, Nadal has so far played only six events. Out of which, five have been on clay, with a win-loss record of 19-3 at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, and the Roland Garros. Apart from Monte Carlo, which had no fans in the stands, other tournaments were played in front of limited spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Referring to French Open’s one-week delay in scheduling, Moya said, "The defeat [to Djokovic] has not had as much of an effect as the fact that there is a week less than usual to prepare for Wimbledon, and the context of the pandemic, before adding, "It is complicated on a mental level to face confinement prior to a big tournament, play with little public. This affects Rafa, who is a person with a big connection to people and with a prior quarantine, it was hard going to London."

Rafael Nadal is a 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal is a 20-time Grand Slam champion Photo: AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

At the Wimbledon and Olympics, the players will be in a bio-secure bubble and will be allowed only to move between the tournament hotel and the grounds.

In the same interview, Moya revealed that Nadal is aiming to play the full hard-court season, which includes events in Canada, Cincinnati, and the US Open. Moreover, Cincinnati and the US Open, the tournaments which Nadal has won three times each, are expected to be played in full capacity of fans.

"It is a tournament that historically has been very good for him, he likes the atmosphere there a lot and we hope it will be a tournament with almost no restrictions," added Moya.