Monte Carlo was one of those big tournaments that Rafael Nadal has proven to be an expert in achieving victories. Eleven titles are his resume but having his game collapse in the third round to one of ATP's brightest stars, Andrey Rublev might prove a 'wake up call' to Nadal.
"I was not competing at a level I needed..." he had told the Tennis.com media concerning his loss to Rublev. The Spaniard knows what has to be done and is concentrating on good practice sessions and putting his game together again for Barcelona.
Rafael Nadal's formula for victories had worked out well when he set foot in Barcelona and proved it when he won his opening match against Japan's Kei Nishikori. The head-to-head was already in Nadal's favour with him winning 12 matches of 14 against the Japanese who has struggled to regain substance after his elbow injury and season-ending surgery.
"I couldn't focus on playing, the pain more than occupied my thoughts..." Nishikori had expressed to the Tennishead.net publication. But he'd thought the memories of anguish were over until his first round with Nadal who was at a good place with his game.
The Spaniard's victory of 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 over Nishikori was evidence in him getting back to being the 'Classic Nadal' once again. The 11-time Barcelona champ was in a great mindset on playing his first meet up with Britain's Cameron Norrie in the second round at the Spanish tournament.
Nadal's aggression and ability to dictate most shots was impeccable. The success at winning over Norrie had proved 6-1, 6-4 couldn't have been more perfect. It took Nadal about 90 minutes to destroy Norrie's game plan and take the match without very much trouble.
He had won but felt his game could have been more consistent. "I played well in the beginning, but then I stopped a little bit in the second..." Nadal said. but he was still feeling uneasy with his up and down progress and admitted that "I need to hold the level of intensity for the whole match when it comes to the semifinal."
Playing against a fellow Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta and having some fans in the stand was at first thought to be an issue that Nadal will have to keep focused and not distracted to pull off a win. But Nadal's statistics on defeating Carreno Busta on paper wasn't much of a worry being that he's won all of their seven meetings.
But taking it for granted shouldn't be done either. Nadal knew this. Rafael Nadal did exactly what he had to do. Stay focus, keep to his game plan and continue the intensity with Pablo Carreno Busta. Nadal's victory did prevail in the semifinal with a 6-3, 6-2 win.
This proved that the iconic Spaniard hasn't lost his appetite for gaining another Barcelona title and dictated most of his shots resulting in a winning performance.
Nadal is hungry and ready to add another Barcelona title to his resume
Despite Carreno Busta's valiant try on adding two more games in the first set, Nadal had precedence over the opener.
The second set was merely a routine practice lesson for the older Spaniard and a will and testament that he has returned better from the Pandemic. The 6-3, 6-2 score gave Nadal the chance to bathe in the thought of possibly winning another Barcelona title regardless of his opponent.
He will have to prove this by playing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. Every day he's showing that his love of the clay and expertise hasn't totally left him yet at all.