Rafael Nadal played down his quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem at last week’s Madrid Open, a defeat that ended his year-long winning streak on clay and saw him give up the world number one spot to rival Roger Federer.
The 31-year-old Spaniard had won 50 consecutive sets on his favourite surface going into Friday’s meeting with fifth seed Thiem, but the Austrian proved a worthy winner, taking the match 7-5, 6-3.
Thiem had also been the last person to beat Nadal on clay, when he triumphed at last year’s Rome Masters, a title he will be looking to defend this week while Nadal heads to Italy eager for revenge.
Speaking ahead of this week’s event in the Italian capital, Nadal dismissed talk that Thiem had discovered a weakness in the ‘King of Clay’s’ armour.
“Well, three weeks ago I beat him 6-0, 6-3. I don’t know if that’s a tough player or not.
I don’t think it’s that way,” Nadal said.
“I think it has just been a match where he was better than me, same as a few weeks ago I was better than him.
“If he beats me three times in a row, maybe we can say he reads my game and can beat me.”
Ciao a tutti !!! vi aspetto a Roma! 😉😜😘 pic.twitter.com/DKuYPQc1P5
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) May 13, 2018
Nadal said he will now focus fully on Rome where, should he win the title, he will reclaim the number one ranking from Federer.
“Every tournament is very important in itself,” Nadal said.
“And for me, even more. Because I have a great story at all these events. I won here seven times. For me, it’s always very special to play here in this tournament.
“There is not much time to think about what happened [in Madrid].
“I should [have] been playing better than what I did. I know what I did wrong, and I am going to try to change that for this week.
“There is one thing that is 100 percent sure. I am not thinking [about] Roland Garros when I am here. I am thinking all about Rome.”