Spain's Rafael Nadal, the world No. 1, said Monday he planned to put his earlier-than-expected exit at the Monte Carlo Masters behind him and focus on the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in an effort to get over the "mental drop" plaguing him since the Australian Open final.
The 27-year-old Nadal said he felt he was lacking "that extra competitiveness and confidence" needed at key points in matches and was "motivated" heading into the Barcelona tournament to "improve on the effort shown" at recent events.
Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka beat Nadal, who was hobbled by a back injury, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open final on Jan. 26.
Nadal, a 13-time Grand Slam champion who has won a record eight French Open titles, defeated Ukraine's Aleksandr Dolgopolov for the title in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 23.
The Spaniard hit the skids again in Miami, where Serbia's Novak Djokovic easily beat him 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Sony Open on March 30, and then countryman David Ferrer beat Nadal 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 last Friday in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo.
"You can't keep making excuses about the Australian Open final. I've dealt with adversity in my career and this is just more of it," Nadal said in a press conference ahead of the Barcelona Open.
Nadal said he regretted being "the player who has blown the most opportunities" due to injuries.
"These are opportunities that when they're gone, they're gone," Nadal said, referring to his loss in Australia.
The Spanish player said he tried to put things in perspective.
"Nothing lasts forever. I've lost and I'll lose some more because time marches on," Nadal said.
The Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell is one of the bigger tune-up events for tennis' premier clay-court tournament, the French Open, which gets underway on May 25. EFE