Rafael Nadal: 'Competition gives me this security and isolation'

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Rafael Nadal: 'Competition gives me this security and isolation'

Rafael Nadal, 18, was among the title favorites at Monte Carlo 2005. The youngster reached the final at the previous Masters 1000 event in Miami and was looking forward to another good run on his beloved clay. Still, Rafa did not think about significant results and victories, going game by game and focusing on improving.

Nadal listed his opponents as the favorites in the Principality, keeping his focus only on his next opponent. The Spaniard had great results in the first three months of 2005, winning three matches at the Australian Open and capturing two clay-court titles in Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco to find himself on the brink of the top-30.

Skipping Indian Wells, Rafa produced his A game in Miami, coming within two points of beating Roger Federer in straight sets in the final before losing in five sets. Following Valencia's quarterfinal loss to Igor Andreev just after Miami, Rafa was eager to show off his magic on clay in Monte Carlo, where he made his debut as a 16-year-old two years ago.

The Spaniard defeated his contemporary Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes in the first round, getting broken twice and having the advantage on the return to take five breaks and seal the deal in less than an hour.

and a half. Rafa was the most successful player in the long rallies, forcing Gael to run a lot and get tired in set number two. Following the victory, the Spaniard said that he did not intend to face Roger Federer again in the potential semi-final clash, focusing on improving his game and only on the next hurdle.

Nadal on adjusting his bottles during changeovers

Rafael Nadal recently lifted his second Australian Open title, in the process becoming the first man ever to win 21 singles Grand Slams. The Spaniard broke away from a three-way tie between himself and his peers Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who were all resting at 20 Majors at the end of last season.

"I believe that the fewer weird things to do to focus, the better," Nadal said. "And I say that then when I have particularly marked rituals when I play. I'd much rather not do them." One of the most iconic on-court images in tennis is Rafael Nadal adjusting his bottles during changeovers.

But while that might be Nadal's most famous ritual, he also does a fair bit during his service motion and while crossing the tramlines. "Generally, I am a focused person," the World No. 5 said. "I don't know if it's positive or negative, but it works for me to have rituals. When I train I don't have rituals, but competition gives me this security and isolation."