With the clay season upon us, there is only one name that comes to everyone’s minds – Rafael Nadal. The king of clay endured a surprising time in Monte Carlo last week. Just when he was looking solid at his favourite surface, the Spaniard suffered a shock quarterfinal loss to Andrey Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters. He is aiming to bounce back to his usual best at this week’s Barcelona Open. Notably, Nadal is an 11-time former champion in Barcelona.
With time to reflect on his Monte Carlo loss, Nadal feels that any defeat can cast doubts in a person’s mind. “If you are training well every day, when you play a match and do some things especially bad, it is surprising. I knew what happened immediately,” he added.
“Losses, even if they are not pleasant or positive, put everyone in their place. I analyse details from every match, and I know that I need to improve certain things. It was a strange match. You can lose against a great player like Rublev, but I did some things wrong and that surprised me,” he said.
The Spaniard has stressed on the importance of recovering after a big defeat. “Other times, when you’re not feeling great, playing bad seems logical. That wasn’t the case in Monte-Carlo, but it happened. You need to understand what went wrong to avoid making the same mistakes again,” he added.
“After any loss, you have some days with doubts [in your mind]. The key is to recover and that’s what I have been doing. I have trained with the right attitude to have great feelings to compete here.”
Nadal, who will be chasing his 12th Barcelona title, said that he hasn’t played a lot of tennis lately. “I have not played much over the past few months, or the past year. Coming back to competition is always tough,” he added.
“Monte-Carlo was an important challenge, where I experienced a lot of positives during the tournament and practice sessions. I lost in the quarter-finals, not being able to compete at the level that I needed. Here I have another opportunity.”
With French Open not far away, the Spaniard has spoken about how he will be approaching every match. “I’ll go week by week. I have an important month that finishes with Roland Garros. Each match and each week is important now. That’s how I see it. I am hoping that the negative stuff doesn’t take a toll and I am aiming to be positive every day to get to where I want to be,” he said.
Nadal went on to stress the importance of winning tournaments before a Grand Slam like French Open. “I want to win events before Roland Garros, because I like to win tournaments. Of course, it’s easier winning Roland Garros with the confidence of winning events before, as I have done for much of my career,” he added.
“But the key is put myself into a position to be competitive in every single event. I have not competed a lot over the past year, but even if I felt ready for Monte-Carlo, matches like I had can happen. I will keep working hard for my match tomorrow in Barcelona, and every day for Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.”