BARCELONA (AFP) – Rafael Nadal says he won’t waste time dwelling on his weekend Monte Carlo semi-final loss but instead will concentrate on bouncing back at the Barcelona Open.
“What has happened has happened, whatever the reasons are,” the 11-time Barcelona champion said after Monday’s 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,” Nadal said.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner, who returned at Monte Carlo after a knee injury, put a positive spin on his Saturday setback against eventual tournament winner Fabio Fognini.
“Monte Carlo was a step forward compared to where I was a week earlier,” Nadal said.
He was joined at a mini-tennis court set up at an ornate Barcelona classical concert hall by two-time tournament champion Kei Nishikori.
The Spaniard will open his title defence on Wednesday against Argentine Leo Mayer, a first-round winner over Marius Copil 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 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.”
– ‘Another chance to start season’ – As usual, the 32-year-old Spaniard is focussing 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 finals 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 said repeated injuries have played a role in denying him 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.
Argentine qualifier Diego Schwartzman eliminated Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, and will face third seed Dominic Thiem.
German Jan-Lennard Struff beat Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien 6-3, 6-1 and, in the last match of the day, Frenchman Benoit Paire beat Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 7-5, 6-2.