Rafael Nadal said on Monday he won’t waste time dwelling on his Monte Carlo Masters 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 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,” 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.