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Rafael Nadal will begin his bid for an eighth Internazionali BNL d'Italia title against countryman Fernando Verdasco or Damir Dzumhur.

Nadal: “I Am Thinking All About Rome”

Nadal is bidding for a record eighth crown in Rome

Rafael Nadal was keen to emphasise the importance of playing in the present as he discussed beginning his quest for a record eighth Internazionali BNL d’Italia title this week.

The seven-time champion, who lost on clay last week in Madrid for the first time since 2017 Rome, is bidding to win his first title at the Foro Italico in five years.

“Every tournament is very important in itself. And for me, even more. Because I have a great story at all these events. I won here seven times. And, for me, it's always very special to play here in this tournament,” said Nadal.

The Spaniard enters Rome after his 21-match and 50-set winning streaks on clay were ended by Dominic Thiem in Madrid, the same man who beat him 12 months ago in the Italian capital. The loss to Thiem also confirmed that Nadal’s reign as World No. 1 would come to an end, with Roger Federer returning to the top spot of the ATP Rankings on Monday 14 May.

“There is not much time to think about what happened [in Madrid],” reflected Nadal. “I should [have] been playing better than what I did. I know what I did wrong, and I am going to try to change that for this week."

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Having been forced to miss tournaments in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami due to a right hip injury, Nadal has made a triumphant return to ATP World Tour action on clay, winning his 11th titles in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona before last week’s quarter-final loss to Thiem.

“I'm very happy about my comeback after the injury,” assessed Nadal. “Here is another opportunity to play well.” 

Nadal will be extra motivated to play well and clinch his eighth crown in Rome with the World No. 1 ATP Ranking on the line once more. A title run in Rome would see the Spaniard immediately return to World No. 1 on Monday 21 May.

The 31-year-old also made it clear that, despite Roland Garros beginning at the end of the month, his focus was solely on action this week at the Foro Italico.

"There is one thing that is 100% sure," said Nadal. "I am not thinking [about] Roland Garros when I am here. I am thinking all about Rome."

Did You Know?
The Internazionali BNL d’Italia is the only clay-court tournament in Rafael Nadal’s career that he has failed to win on four consecutive visits, having lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 championship match before three consecutive quarter-final defeats from 2015-2017.

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