Rafael Nadal returns to his European red dirt this week in Monte Carlo, but the King of Clay doesn’t think he’s the favorite to win much less anything.
“I’m not the favorite for anything,” Nadal said. “I have been playing worse than the rest of the rivals of mine. The pressure is not for me.
“I am arriving here with the motivation to do something better than what I am doing.”
Nadal is coming off a poor March during which he only won 4 matches as he dealt with nerves and confidence issues. And he has just one title (Buenos Aires) and two Top 20 wins (No. 13 Gilles Simon, No. 14 Kevin Anderson both at Indian Wells) since his 9th French Open title last June.
“The most important thing for me is to feel well on court again, feel confident, feel I am improving,” Rafa said. “I was improving every week before Miami, and in Miami I played bad… If I’m able to find the confidence, to find the tennis here on clay, then it makes everything a little less difficult.
“I am working to be playing well as soon as possible, and if I didn’t believe that I could, I would not be here… If I am here it’s because I have the motivation, the passion, the emotion to keep playing tennis.”
Nadal is ranked No. 5 this week but can make up ground quickly because he’s only defending quarterfinal points from 2014 Monte Carlo.
Nadal opens his bid for a 9th Monte Carlo title Wednesday against the hard-hitting French wildcard Lucas Pouille.
“I’m feeling well. I’m always well in Monte-Carlo. I love being here, Rafa said. “It’s good being back to clay, to my favourite part of the season and my favourite tournaments.”
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