Rome, Italy

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal is unfazed by his new position in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

With an uncharacteristically rocky start to his clay season, Rafael Nadal is the first to admit that he is not competing at his highest level as he attempts to capture the Internazionali BNL D’Italia title for an eighth time. But the Spaniard, ranked outside the Top 5 for the first time in a decade, is not one to panic. 

In fact, the current World No. 7 sees his run to the championship match in Madrid as a positive sign, something he hopes to build on in Rome. 

“I’m improving a little bit,” he said before kicking off his campaign against Marsel Ilhan. “Let’s confirm the positive feeling I had last week. I’m positive this week; I was much more worried after Miami.”

When asked if his recent struggles have led him to consider a split from his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, the Spaniard was quick to reiterate his priorities (family first!) and shoulder any potential blame. 

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“I won with him all my life,” he said. “I have had the same team for all my career. I cannot predict tomorrow, but my coach is more my uncle than my coach. Family is more important than tennis.

“If things don’t go well, it’s not because of the coach. The fault is mine because I always have support.”

No matter what his ranking, Nadal does not plan to change his approach any time soon, commenting that he practised for two hours, as always, before coming into his pre-tournament press conference.  

"It’s not good as it was in the past," Nadal said of his play, "but I’m happy with my life, which has been fantastic to me. If I don’t win, life continues."


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