Nadal laments missed chances in Raonic defeat
Rafael Nadal rued missed chances in his 4-6 6-3 6-4 defeat to Milos Raonic at the Brisbane International, before turning his attentions to the Australian Open.
Nadal had two break-point opportunities at 2-2 in the second set on Friday, only for Raonic to hold and force a decider.
A further break chance came and went for Nadal at 2-1 down in the third, as top seed and defending champion Raonic battled back to set up a semi-final tie with Grigor Dimitrov.
"Matches are decided by just a few things," Nadal said. "Probably if I make that cross-court forehand passing shot, I would've had the break in the second set; there's a big chance that we will be here [in the media room] one hour before with a victory, maybe 6-4 6-3, or 6-4 6-4.
"That's tennis. That passing shot was long, and that's it. Then he had the break and the match changes.
"Before he had the break in the second set, I think I was playing better than him. That's my feeling. And I think that's the real feeling. I was being better than him on court, and after that he was better than me... I had a big chance. I didn't convert that chance. And then he was aggressive and he played well.
"He was a little bit better than me. He deserved [to win], and congrats to him."
Nadal was quick to shift focus to the first major of 2017 in Melbourne, as he bids for just a second hard-court title since his 2013 US Open triumph.
"I feel that there remains one week and a little bit more for the Australian Open start, so I really hope that I can be ready for it, and I'm going to fight and to practise hard to make it happen," he said.
"Then what's going to happen? I cannot predict, but anything is possible."
Raonic, meanwhile, has a more imminent challenge firmly in the forefront of his mind.
"It's a difficult match-up. [Dimitrov] is capable of so much. He can do so many great things," Raonic said.
"It's really about keeping a level head throughout the match, keeping a flat line, and hoping that that averages out better than what he brings. I'm doing things well.
"I'm obviously playing significantly better today than I did in my first round, and hopefully I can continue to improve each and every match I play."