MADRID (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal slumped to one of his worst defeats in a clay final on Sunday but said his week in Madrid had been positive despite losing his Masters crown to Andy Murray in a crushing 6-3 6-2 reverse.
The French Open champion, who will seek a record-extending 10th Roland Garros crown starting at the end of the month, has been struggling for consistency since returning from the injury and illness that dogged his 2014 season.
He suffered a surprise reverse to Italian Fabio Fognini in the third round in Barcelona last month but has looked close to his best on occasion this week, including an imperious victory over Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals.
The 28-year-old now heads to the Rome Masters, where he will try to hone his game and eliminate the errors that scuppered him on Sunday before beginning his French Open bid in Paris.
“The most important thing is the feelings I have and this week I had much better positive feelings than a few weeks ago so that’s very important for me,” Nadal told a news conference.
“There is a chance for me now to have another good week in Rome like I had here,” added the Mallorcan.
“Even playing very badly today my feelings on court were not that bad.
“I just have to accept that it was not my day and forget it because it’s not time to think about negative things as I have another match in two days.
“One week ago the feeling was much worse. It’s the time to be positive and fight for what’s going on and what’s going on is Rome next week.”
Nadal blamed his defeat by Murray on the weakness of his backhand, which he said had allowed the Scot to dictate the rallies and prevented him from using his trademark whipped forehand as much as he would have liked.
The Spaniard needed a win to stay fourth in the world rankings and he will drop to seventh when they are updated, putting him outside the top five for the first time in a decade.
However, he said he was not worried about the rankings, even though it could mean a tougher draw at the French Open.
Editing by Ken Ferris