Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal insists he is over Monte Carlo Masters embarrassment

Former world No 1 determined to 'find himself' after straight sets defeat to eventual winner Fabio Fognini

Rafael Nadal, left, and Kei Nishikori will be the players to watch out for at the upcoming Barcelona Open clay-court tournament. AFP
Rafael Nadal, left, and Kei Nishikori will be the players to watch out for at the upcoming Barcelona Open clay-court tournament. AFP

Rafael Nadal said on Monday that he will not waste time dwelling on his weekend Monte Carlo semi-final loss but will instead concentrate on bouncing back at the Barcelona Open.

The 17-time grand slam winner, who returned from a knee injury at Monte Carlo, was beaten 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday by the eventual tournament winner, Fabio Fognini.

"What has happened has happened, whatever the reasons are," the 11-time Barcelona champion said after a promotional appearance at a mini-tennis event in the Catalan capital. "I don't know the future, but I will go back to work. The job is to find myself.

"Monte Carlo was a step forward compared to where I was a week earlier."

The Spaniard will open his title defence on Wednesday against Argentine Leo Mayer, a first-round winner over Marius Copil 6-3, 6-7, 7-5.

Nadal called his first light hit-out since Saturday's loss "normal". "It's the first day of practice in a different place. I did what I had to do," he said.

He again labelled his defeat to Fognini "one of the worst matches on clay".

"It's a reality. There is no need to hide it. I don't see any benefit in denying it."

Rafael Nadal, left, was beaten in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals by Fabio Fognini, right, who went on to win the tournament. Getty 
Rafael Nadal, left, was beaten in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals by Fabio Fognini, right, who went on to win the tournament. Getty 

'Another chance to start season'

As usual, the 32-year-old Spaniard is focusing on the bright side as the pre-Roland Garros clay season hits full stride.

"I lost a good opportunity to start the season in a fantastic way. But I've now got another one. We will know more about my form on Wednesday. This is a very special tournament that is part of the history of tennis and of my own.

"I have another morning to practice and we will see how we are doing. On a physical level, I'm more or less well.

"I've reached the final in Australia, semi-finals in Indian Wells and now semi-finals again in Monte Carlo.

"The year is not bad, I'm third in the race [to the year-end championship] – but with more problems than I would have wanted."

Nadal, who was joined at the promotional event in Barcelona by two-time tournament champion Kei Nishikori, said repeated injuries have played a role in preventing the momentum he needs.

"I have to find myself. During the last 18 months, I've had too many non-tennis related stops, ups and downs.

"When that happens, it's hard to pick up rhythm. But it's happened so many times that the [good times] seem to be forgotten.

"I hope to be ready to play well – but if not here, it will be at Madrid, in Rome or at Roland Garros."

In first-round matches, new Madrid Masters tournament director Feliciano Lopez, playing as a wild card, lost to fellow Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-3.

Hungary's Marton Fucsovics beat Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-1 to earn a match against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

American youngster Mackenzie McDonald beat Japan's Taro Daniel 6-2, 6-2 and Spaniard Jaume Munar beat Portuguese qualifier Pedro Sousa 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Updated: April 23, 2019 01:15 PM

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