Rafael Nadal shrugged off any suggestion of a French Open crisis of confidence, insisting he had enjoyed a “positive week” in Barcelona despite a dispiriting semi-final exit at a tournament he has won 11 times.

The Spanish great slumped to a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Dominic Thiem on Saturday, just a week after he had been dethroned as Monte Carlo Masters champion by Fabio Fognini, also at the semi-final stage.

Saturday’s win was Thiem’s fourth on clay over Nadal who had never previously lost in the semis at Barcelona.

With just four weeks to go until the start of Roland Garros, where he is the defending champion and an 11-time winner, 32-year-old Nadal says he has finally come to life on his favourite surface.

“It’s been a very positive week,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner said. “I came from a lot of low moments in Monte Carlo.”

“Today was the first day I felt really confident on the clay, it’s my best match on the surface this year. My confidence is back thanks to this week.

“I really believe that I’ve made improvements. This is a good base to try and achieve my goals for the next couple of weeks.”

Nadal was also optimistic about his immediate future with Masters events in Madrid and Rome to come before the start of Roland Garros.

“I enjoyed the match, I’m feeling the way I want to feel about my game. I’m happy and I’m confident,” he said.

With AFP inputs