Rafael Nadal in confident mood ahead of Madrid Open
Last Updated: 07/05/19 10:56am
Rafael Nadal believes his clay court confidence is back ahead of his opening Madrid Open match later this week.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner will start this year's campaign against the winner of the match between Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime or Denis Shapovalov.
However, not since 2015 has Nadal arrived without having won a title in either Monte Carlo or Barcelona - the tournaments that mark the start of clay swing in Europe.
But despite a semi-final loss to Dominic Thiem in Barcelona, ending a run of three straight titles in the tournament, the second-ranked Nadal says there is no reason for concern.
"My confidence is back, I really believe that I made very good improvements to create a good base to try to achieve my goals during the next couple of weeks," Nadal said.
"Against Thiem, I played a good match. I was competitive and I enjoyed the match.
"I really felt competitive for the first time in a way that I want to feel myself. I am happy and I am confident that I made a big improvement."
The other half of the Madrid draw has top-seeded Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who will be making his return to clay-court tournaments for the first time since Rome in 2016.
The 37-year-old Federer, a three-time champion in Madrid, is looking for his third title of the season to add to his triumphs in Dubai and Miami.