‘My serve was a disaster’
For Nadal, it looked obvious that he was contesting just his second tournament of the season, compared to Rublev, who is playing in his seventh.
The world No.3 gave credit to Rublev but also rued his “disaster” serving performance, which saw him strike seven double faults and get broken seven times throughout the match.
“When you face great player like him and you don't play well, you should lose, no? That's easy to analyse,” confessed the 13-time Roland-Garros champion.
“For some reason I had problems with my serve. I don't understand why because I was not having problems on the practices at all. But today was one of these days that my serve was a disaster.
“Serving like this, the serve creates an impact on the rest of the game. When you serve with no confidence, you are just focus on try to serve, not think about how you want to play the ball. You just think about what you have to do with the serve to put the ball in. Then you have problems continue and prepare the point the right way, no?
“Easy: he played well, he deserve more than me. I fighted, yeah. That's the positive thing, I was there. But you can't expect win against a player like him losing my serve I don't know how many times, but too many. No chance like this. Six, seven times? It's too much.”