Federer: A positive experience despite loss

Roger Federer, despite losing his tie with Rafael Nadal 5-6 (7-4), was happy with his performance for UAE Royals in the IPTL, and rated his outing as a 'positive experience'.

Rafael Nadal (R) and Rafael Nadal smile after their IPTL contest.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Rafael Nadal exults after winning his fixture with Roger Federer in New Delhi.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Kicking off the new season with a one-set defeat against Rafael Nadal may not be the best start for Roger Federer, but the Swiss master was more than satisfied with the way he played for the UAE Royals in the IPTL match here on Saturday.

Federer lost 5-6 (7-4) in the shootout to Indian Aces’ Nadal in front of a packed, rapturous crowd that was equally divided behind the two legends. “I had a slower start as Rafa was ready. He has been playing here for a couple of days now. It was a big advantage, or maybe none at all, but I arrived only this morning (Saturday). I am still practicing and have not played a million points so I was going to be a bit rusty.

“At the same time I think I did pretty good so I am happy with the way I performed against Rafa in my first match of the season. Rafa played well and the energy inside the building was fantastic. I see it as a very positive experience even though I did not win,” Federer said after the match.

'Strange kind of pressure'

Federer also refrained from calling the IPTL an exhibition format. “Exhibition or not, I don't know. But it's a fun concept and I love it and that's why I am back here this year,” he said.

Asked if he felt any pressure playing in front of a very raucous crowd – unlike the ATP Tour where audiences generally observe silence between games - Federer said, “It’s strange kind of pressure where you have just one set. I am glad that the game went the distance and both of us played so much tennis for the crowd.”

Nadal, on his part, said it was a joy to play in the charged atmosphere. “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,” Nadal said.