Following a second shock loss in as many weeks to a countryman, Rafael Nadal vowed to improve heading into the French Open, targeting three areas of his game he needs to do better.
“A little bit of rhythm, a little bit of intensity, playing a little bit more regular,” Nadal said today after the 2-hour, 47-minute match. “To play well on clay, I need to be more stable with my game.”
A week after losing to David Ferrer in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals, the 8-time champion Nadal fell in the same round this afternoon to Nicolas Almagro 26, 76, 64. Rafa had never lost to Almagro winning all 10 meetings and losing just one set.
“That’s sport,” said Nadal. “Obviously it’s not the happiest day for me, but obviously I never thought I would win here 70 matches in a row. It was not my day today. I felt I did a lot of things well today to win the match, but at the end, [there] remained a little bit. Just accept the situation and keep fighting.
“For two sets I was playing better than him, much more chances than him,” he said. “I was in advantage, in control, and I missed a lot of opportunities during the match. And playing against a good opponent like him, the normal thing is lose in the end and that’s what happened.”
Nadal finished just 5/18 on break chances (2/7 in the third set) and won just one point of nine on his second serve in the final set.
The win for Almagro was his first over a Top 10 player this season and the first over a Top 3 player in his career (was 0-18).
“I was lucky to play against Klizan and Verdasco this week, they are both left-handers,” said Almagro. “I had difficulties in the first set and struggled with Nadal’s shots. I started to hit harder and play more aggressively as the match continued, especially when I had the wind in my back.”
Entering the match today, Nadal had won 41 straight matches and 43 straight sets in Barcelona. Nadal hadn’t lost in Barcelona in 11 years since 2003 to Alex Corretja when Rafa was just 16.
Nadal will take a week off before returning in 10 days for the Madrid Masters.
In the semifinals tomorrow, Almagro faces Santiago Giraldo and Kei Nishikori meets Ernests Gulbis.
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