Paris: Rafael Nadal won’t panic after having his cloak of claycourt invincibility ripped to shreds by David Ferrer, but admits he needs to quickly rediscover his famed Spanish fire.
The world number one suffered just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.
Nadal had won the Monte Carlo title for eight successive years from 2005 to 2012 before his run was ended in 2013 by Novak Djokovic in the final.
Friday’s loss was his earliest in the principality since a third round exit against Guillermo Coria on his debut appearance in 2003 when he was just 16.
For Ferrer, the unheralded workhorse of the men’s tour, it was a first win on clay against the 13-time major winner since Stuttgart in 2004.
Even Nadal, whose season so far has seen titles in Doha and Rio and runners-up spots at the Australian Open and Miami, felt the shockwaves.
I started the year great in Doha and during Australia. But I don’t have to lie. After what happened in Australia it was a little bit harder for me to find again the intensity, the confidence, the inside power that always I have,” said the 27-year-old.
“Even if I won Rio, I played the final in Miami, there remains something in my mind and in my game. I’m going to fight to try to find that solution soon.”
There will again be suggestions that Nadal, who will attempt to become a nine-time French Open champion at Roland Garros next month, needs an overhaul of his coaching set-up.
He has been guided by his uncle Toni since childhood and has vigorously defended his in-house operation even as rivals Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray ruthlessly wielded the coaching axe to keep up with Nadal’s blistering pace.