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'I want to win events before Roland Garros,' says Rafael Nadal as he starts Barcelona push

Rafael Nadal at Monte Carlo Masters

Rafael Nadal will begin his quest to win a 12th Barcelona title on Wednesday and has admitted it is important for him to win a clay event before Roland Garros.

Nadal returned to tennis last week, having not played since his quarterfinal exit at the Australian Open in February.

He was seeded third in Monte-Carlo, the first clay Masters event of the season, but after Daniil Medvedev had to withdraw due to a positive COVID test and Novak Djokovic suffered an early defeat, the Spaniard looked to be on course for his 11th Monte Carlo title.

Unfortunately for Nadal he was outplayed in the quarter-final by Andrey Rublev, and now five days on, he moves on to Barcelona with a clear goal in his mind.

“I have not played much over the past few months, or the past year,” said Nadal.

“Coming back to competition is always tough. Monte-Carlo was an important challenge, where I experienced a lot of positives during the tournament and practice sessions.

"I lost in the quarter-finals, not being able to compete at the level that I needed. Here I have another opportunity.

“I’ll go week by week. I have an important month that finishes with Roland Garros. Each match and each week is important now.

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"That’s how I see it. I am hoping that the negative stuff doesn’t take a toll and I am aiming to be positive every day to get to where I want to be."

Nadal has won a clay-court title prior to Roland Garros in 12 of his 13 triumphs in Paris, the only exception being last years disrupted ATP Tour due to coronavirus, and the world number three admits that winning the French Open is easier with the confidence behind him.

“I want to win events before Roland Garros, because I like to win tournaments,” said Nadal.

“Of course, it’s easier winning Roland Garros with the confidence of winning events before, as I have done for much of my career.

"But the key is put myself into a position to be competitive in every single event. I have not competed a lot over the past year, but even if I felt ready for Monte-Carlo, matches like I had can happen.

"I will keep working hard for my match tomorrow in Barcelona, and every day for Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros."

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