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Rafael Nadal admitted he struggled to handle the power of opponent Taylor Fritz as he lost his first match in Turin.

The Spaniard, who has a chance to claim back the world number one ranking this week, lost to the American in the first round-robin match 6-7, 1-6.

Although Nadal was the favourite on paper, he is once again returning from injuries that have plagued his season and he was reflective about his progress after the match.

“It's about time,” said Nadal at his post-match press conference when asked what went wrong.

“Tennis and the sport in general, it's about time. I have less time than him to do what I want to do on the ball. I felt that everything was going so fast.

“When that happens, normally you are under stress, and you don't have the time to play the kind of shot that you want.”

Suffering with a persistent foot injury and recovering from two abdominal tears since the summer, Nadal hasn’t played much tennis since having to withdraw from the Wimbledon semi-final.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has only played one match since reaching the fourth round of the US Open which was a three-set defeat at the Paris Masters just over a week ago.

After the loss to Fritz, Nadal acknowledged the difficulty in finding form coming back from injury, especially against strong opponents.

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“In most of the points of the match, I was in a defensive position, and he was in an offensive position,” said Nadal.

“That's what happened… But every single time I came back from injury, [it’s not normal] playing against top players [from] the first day. That's what's happens when you are coming back playing Masters 1000s and [the Nitto ATP Finals].”

The 36-year-old was happy to praise Fritz though, particularly his strength and speed.

“We can find different ways to explain what happened, at the end [of the day], Fritz played very well,” said Nadal.

“I was not able to handle his power. It's obvious that in this kind of surface, you need to play very well. You don't have time to think for a tactic… There is no time. The things are going so quick.

“Serving like Fritz served, then you are under pressure all the time. When somebody is serving that way, on the return he is going for every shot. [It was] just well played from him, not enough from me.”

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals despite ten appearances. He will play young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the next round-robin match

“It's a match like a normal tournament already, because the loser will go out of the tournament normally,” said Nadal.

“[I] just accept that I need to do better things. I hope to be ready to make that happen. He finished the season playing unbelievable, winning [three] tournaments in a row, playing so well. [It is] another big challenge.”

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