Nadal fighting for form
Rafael Nadal (Gallo Images)
London - While he fully expects to recover his confidence after exiting the ATP World Tour Finals in the group stage after a 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-3 loss in London to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Rafael Nadal appears to be missing some of his swagger.
The world number two Spaniard has confessed that if he cannot regain championship form in time for next weekend's Davis Cup final against Argentina in Seville, it's conceivable that he might not be chosen to take his expected place on the host side.
"I'll try my best every day to try to win the Davis Cup for my country," said the winner of three titles this season including a sixth French Open. "But I'm lucky, the team is not only myself.
"If I'm not in the right condition, the captain can choose another player."
While that scenario would be long-odds at best, it's not unprecedented, with Nadal missing his country's 2008 title over the South Americans due to injury.
The Spaniard was heading straight to Seville to join the squad of the most successful Davis Cup nation of the past decade.
But the 25-year-old is concentrating on the positives and is more than pleased to be back to clay after a so-so return to hard court at the season-ending event where he played the final a year ago against Roger Federer.
"I'm going to be a week practising on clay. Even if I am not playing perfect, the surface help me," said Nadal.
"Sometimes it's a little bit more about confidence, sometimes little bit more about the movement. I was a little bit slower than usual this week - because my mind wasn't perfect, so the reaction was late."
Nadal will be joined for Spain by teammate David Ferrer, a London semi-finalist.
"On clay I have more time to think. The movements are a little bit easier for me," said Nadal. "I'm going to have the right team there supporting me and I'll be practising hard.
With only his three 2011 titles to hand, Nadal admits that this season has been far from his best.
"It's been a tough year for me, It was positive in moments, but at the same time it was hard in moments. I have to accept what happened during all the season," he said.
"I didn't have big expectations for this tournament (in what shape) I arrived. You always dream that the situation can change. If I'd beaten Tsonga, you never know."