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May 26, 2018

Nadal turns focus to Rome ahead of 11th Roland Garros bid

Nadal turns focus to Rome ahead of 11th Roland Garros bid
'Rafael Nadal following his rare defeat in Madrid which he says will have no bearing on how he fares at Roland Garros' - By: AFP OSCAR DEL POZO

Rafael Nadal said Sunday he has already put his Madrid Masters defeat behind him as he targets an eighth Italian Open title in Rome before his French Open title defence.

The 31-year-old Spaniard suffered his first clay-court defeat in almost a year in a shock 7-5, 6-3 loss to Austria's Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Masters quarter-finals.

The defeat means Nadal -- who came into the tournament having won both Monte Carlo and Barcelona for an 11th time -- will lose his world number one ranking to Roger Federer.

"I repeat the same always. When I win, I don't talk much when I'm in the next events about the previous weeks," Nadal, who has a first round bye, said ahead of the clay-court Italian Open.

"Okay, what happened last week was - forget it. And that's it.

"I should have been playing better than I did. I know what I did wrong, and I'm gonna try to change that for this week.

"I'm very happy about my comeback after the (leg) injury. And winning two tournaments, now quarter-finals and here is another opportunity to play well. So that's what I'm looking for."

Nadal defeated Stan Wawrinka in straight sets last year to win the French Open for a record 10th time.

Swiss star Wawrinka struggled on his return after almost three months on the sidelines, falling to a 6-4, 6-4 first round defeat on Sunday to 55th-ranked American Steve Johnson.

Nadal insisted that his Madrid defeat would have absolutely no impact on how he plays at Roland Garros.

"Of course, it would be much better to have the full pressure because I won all the matches.

"But, you know, after 14 years being in the position that I have been fighting for, important things, I can lose, I can win.

"Of course, the loss of last week doesn't help me for Roland Garros. And, of course, the defeat of last week will not go against my possibilities in Roland Garros.

"I never consider no one event, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, like an approach for Roland Garros.

"Every tournament is very important for itself. And for me, even more. Because I have a great story on all these events. I won here seven times. And, for me, it's very special always to play here in this tournament.

"So, I can win Roland Garros losing here, and I can win Roland Garros winning here.

"I don't think what's gonna happen here gonna make a big impact on what can happen in two weeks. But there is one thing that is 100 percent sure, I am not thinking in Roland Garros when I am here. I am thinking all about Rome."

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