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Nadal hoping for clay turnaround after Madrid semi exit

AFP  |  Madrid 

heads into the final fortnight of the countdown to facing uncertainty after crashing out in his bid for a sixth title at the Open.

Spain's formerly invincible of clay - who in most years would have at least one dirt title to hand upon arrival at - will have a last chance in to pick up a trophy.

His mission at the Foro Italico from Monday will be to try and rescue his form prior to the start of the Grand Slam where he dreams of collecting a record 12th title.

Nadal went down in the semi-finals to young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas of 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, with the ninth-ranked "El Greco" exposing some of the emerging fault lines in the game of the 17-time Grand Slam champion.

"Not winning here means that I'm not going back to my hotel happy," said Nadal, who also made semi-finals in and

"But I think I still have ahead of me." Nadal said his longer term focus was on Roland Garros, confident that an improvement would see him contesting titles later in the season.

"In Paris, I have 11 titles. Each week that I play in this tournament is a lot of memories, a lot of unforgettable memories," he said.

"What I have to do is to be fit and to play properly and have a high level.

"If I manage to do that ... I think I will still have a very good opportunity to fight for titles for the rest of the year." After starting slowly on clay last month after pause, Nadal is hopeful of quick progress.

"I've done a few steps forward, maybe not enough, but I have improved some things. We'll see (for how long) I can (continue to) play at a high level - and I think I will be able to continue.

"If I'm not able to do these things (play) properly, that is the end of the situation, period. "This is a sport and in a sport it's a matter of winning and sometimes losing and accepting both as naturally as possible."

As in and Barcelona, Nadal will be defending a title in after beating in the 2018 title showdown.

The second seed behind opens in the second round against one of two Frenchmen, or

"I've played just three tournaments on clay this year," Nadal said. "It's not much.

"I play when I want to play and I play where I want to play.

"I just play for my happiness and I play when I really want to play. That's all.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 12 2019. 18:11 IST