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Rafael Nadal picks up his third clay-court win of the 2022 ATP Tour season.

Nadal Eager To Build On 'Positive Start' At Roland Garros

Spaniard has played just six clay matches this season

Rafael Nadal was happy with his performance Monday in a first-round Roland Garros win, but far from satisfied.

"It is a good start, of course, straight sets," he said after his 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory against Aussie Jordan Thompson. "That's it. I played good for a while. Then [there are] things that I could do better and I need to do better. But it is a positive start, and that's given me a chance to have one more day of practice tomorrow and then another chance after tomorrow."

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The 13-time Roland Garros champion came into the match without many expectations, entering Paris after a Rome loss to Denis Shapovalov in which he struggled with his chronic foot injury. But with one victory under his belt, Nadal has some very specific areas where he would like to improve.

"I think I need to improve my movement. For moments, the speed of my forehand — the speed I think could be better and should be better," he said. "Of course I am the kind of player that I am always looking for something else, looking for better things. That's what I am going to try to find in my practice tomorrow and then in the next match."

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The Spaniard started the 2022 ATP Tour season in top form, winning his first 20 matches of the year — a personal best — and claiming three titles, including his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open. But after missing time with a rib fracture, he was only able to compete in two European clay events ahead of Roland Garros, compiling a 3-2 record at the ATP Masters 1000s in Madrid and Rome.

"Of course the confidence is higher when you win Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid or Rome," Nadal said of his Paris lead-in. "Without a doubt, things are easy in this world to understand, no? When you are winning more matches and more tournaments, you have better confidence. The opponents feel that too, and at the end, you are more used to the level that you need to play to win matches.

"When this is not the case, things are different. But I never expected to be winning 15 Monte Carlos and Romes, so that's the situation today," he added, referencing his 10 Monte Carlo crowns and five Rome titles. "I got injured, and that's it. What happened is past, and here we are. We are in Roland Garros. I am here to try my best."

The returning Roland Garros semi-finalist will face France's Corentin Moutet in the second round Wednesday with another to chance to build his game and his confidence level. Novak Djokovic looms ahead as a potential quarter-final opponent.

"And how is my level of confidence, how would things be if I didn't get injured? I don't know," Nadal added. "We never know. So I'm not a big fan of think about the things that could happen 'if' — 'if' is a dangerous word. And then is the moment to accept the moment, to accept the situation, and to have the confidence to put all my effort in every single day, to get better and better. Let's see how far I can keep going."

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