World No 1 Rafael Nadal admitted he was off the pace and that probably led to his defeat to defending champion and compatriot David Ferrer in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters on Saturday night.
Ferrer (31) who won his only Masters title last year in the French capital, dominated his fellow Spaniard 6-3, 7-5 to set up the championship decider against Novak Djokovic who came back to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 against the 2011 Paris champion Roger Federer.
“I was slow,” Nadal said. “Always I was a little bit late on the ball. So against a player like David, he’s quick and he plays inside the court, and he puts pressure on you all the time, you are dead,” added the Spaniard, whose best result at the Paris Masters was runner-up in 2007.
He still leads the head-to-head 20-5 against Ferrer but felt his successful year is taking its toll on him. “At the end of the season, a lot of times the body, the mind, and the tennis are tougher for me.
I arrived a bit more tired, and the condition of these courts didn’t help me a lot,” said Nadal, who was bidding to become the first player since Andre Agassi in 1999 to win both the French Open and Paris Masters in the same season but again came up short at a tournament where he last played in 2009.
Nadal hit an uncharacteristic 25 unforced errors and converted just one break point in seven attempts as Ferrer defeated his rival for only the fifth time in 21 meetings.
The World No 4
received huge support from the Paris crowd and got the decisive break to go 6-5 in the second set before serving out the match. “It was definitely the best match I’ve played all week and I was fighting for every ball. I’m pleased because I played my best tennis,” said Ferrer.