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Nadal Relishes “Very Special” Year Amidst Final Defeat

London, England

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal finishes 2013 with a 75-7 record and 10 ATP World Tour titles.

For Rafael Nadal, a single defeat does not define a season.

After a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Novak Djokovic in the championship match of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, this philosophy was evident for the man who had defied the odds in 2013.

“It is very special what happened this year,” said Nadal. “The emotions of this season after a tough year for all of us have been fantastic.

“The only thing that I can say is congratulate my opponent and at the same time congratulate my team because all the achievements, all the success that I had this year, without my family, all my team, it was impossible to have; all the special feelings, the special moments.”

Nadal fell one win short of equaling a career-best 11 titles in one year with his defeat to Djokovic in Monday’s final. It was the Spaniard’s second loss to the man he snatched the World No. 1 mantle from in the past month.

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The runner-up at The O2 in 2010 as well, Nadal reflected on the historic heights of his rivalry with Djokovic and how it has molded the sport over the years.

“We are in a special moment of the history of tennis,” said a pensive Nadal. “I won't say that it is a better moment than others, but it is special for this fact. The only thing I am sure of is I’m going to try to keep working hard and hopefully I will be healthy to keep competing the way that I am doing.

“Yes, I think it is amazing playing 39 times [against Djokovic]. What's happening the last five, six years, four years, is just amazing that the same players have been competing for every tournament, every single important tournament of the year. So that's something that didn't happen very often in the history of our sport.”

Nadal completes his season with a 75-7 match record and 10-4 mark in finals, which includes two Grand Slam crowns and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. He is the year-end World No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third time (2008 and 2010) in his career.

The Mallorca native will maintain a busy off-season schedule, which begins Tuesday when he travels to the British Virgin Islands for a charity event before embarking on an exhibition tour of South America. Nadal will open his 2014 ATP World Tour campaign in Doha, at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

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