PARIS (Reuters) - After admitting to struggling with his self-confidence last month, Rafa Nadal believes his frazzled nerves have now been consigned to history as he launches his bid for a record extending ninth French Open title.
The world number one admitted his confidence was shaken following early claycourt exits at the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open in the run up to the Paris major where he has a phenomenal 59-1 win-loss record.
The Spaniard, however, was back to he best when he won the Madrid Masters and reached the final in Rome, losing to Novak Djokovic in three sets.
“During the claycourt season I got a little bit better week by week,” Nadal told a news conference after the draw at Roland Garros on Friday.
“Last week in Rome, it was tough physically. I played a lot but in the end sometimes you need these things.
“I think I played a little bit better during the whole tournament, and especially after the first two rounds, quarter-finals, semi-finals, final.”
Nadal is now calmer than he was in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, where he lost to compatriots David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro respectively.
“The dynamic is positive, it’s true, so that’s always important for the confidence. I felt that in Rome I was able to play without that anxiety that I played with in the first two tournaments and some moments in Madrid, too,” he explained.
Past results, however, will count for nothing once the two-week tournament starts on Sunday.
“Rome, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Barcelona is past now. We are here in Roland Garros, and the only thing that matters now is have a good practice,” the 27-year-old said.
Nadal will start his campaign against American Robby Ginepri, whom he beat in their only meeting in 2005.
Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Pritha Sarkar