New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Roger Federer may have been beaten by rival Rafael Nadal in their maiden face-off in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) but he was content with his form and intensity displayed in the keenly-contested match.
He also identified his stint at the tournament as a fruitful build-up to his off-season preparations for the next season.
“I had a slower start as Rafa was ready. He has been playing here for a couple of days now. It’s not a big advantage but I arrived only this morning. So I was going to be a bit rusty. But I am happy with the way I performed against Rafa at the start of the season,” Federer said on Saturday after their match, which was also the concluding game of the Delhi leg of IPTL.
“He played well and the energy inside the building was fantastic. I see it as a very positive experience even as I did not win.”
UAE Royals’ Federer and Indian Aces’ Nadal, with a combined haul of 31 Grand Slams together, exhibited some of their supreme skills in their men’s singles match that was eventually won by Nadal 6-5, but only with a 7-4 margin in the shoot-out.
The legends said they were both happy to compete and provide an expectant audience at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here a spectacle.
“I’m just glad it wasn’t a blowout. I was worried about losing 1-6. I’m happy it went the distance,” Federer said.
Nadal, sitting alongside him at the press conference, smiled and reciprocated.
“I was going to say the same thing,” he said.
Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, opined that the intense nature of IPTL matches meant that the tournament wasn’t exhibition in nature and players do feel pressure of performing to their optimum level.
“Personally, I love it. Call it an exhibition or not I don’t know what it is but it’s a fun concept and that’s why I’m back here again. It’s a strange kind of pressure where you have just one set,” said Federer.
Nadal expressed his excitement at playing in the tournament for the first time and lauded the crowd for their unstinted appreciation given to him.
“We tried our best, we played with heart and tried to play the best tennis today. I am happy to play with Roger. It is always a pleasure to play him in any part of the world but the crowd here was unbelievable and gave us so much energy,” the 14-time Major winner said.
The IPTL now moves to Dubai where matches will take place from Wednesday.