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Nadal: Searching For Self

A deflated Rafael Nadal saw his Monte-Carlo reign end at the hands of Fabio Fognini last weekend.

The 11-time Roland Garros champion isn't throwing a pity party.

Watch: Fognini Wins Monte Carlo

Instead, Nadal is conducting a search party.

"Now the job is to find myself," Nadal told the media in Barcelona ahead of his title defense. "During these last 18 months I have had too many stops, too many ups and downs.

"Last year finishing seven tournaments I finished No 2 in the world and this year unfortunately I've had more problems than I would have liked. There comes a time when when you have a lot of problems, one after the other, it is difficult to pick up rhythm and have continuity."

The 32-year-old Spaniard completed just seven of the nine tournaments he played in 2018.

This season, Nadal has posted a 14-3 record, including reaching the Australian Open final, but has battled a cranky right knee issue that forced him to concede a walkover to Roger Federer ahead of their Indian Wells semifinal and prompted him to pull out of Miami.

The 33-time Masters champion requires repetition and match play to regain his confidence: Nadal has not won a title since defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim his 80th career title in Toronto last August.

Nadal is aiming to find his groove in Barcelona where he opens against Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday. A year ago,  Nadal stopped Tsitsipas, 6-2, 6-1, soaring to his 11th Barcelona championship and 77th career ATP crown.

Now, he's back looking to ignite his season on the court that bears his name.

“For those of us who live it on a day-to-day basis, it is complicated and it is difficult what has been achieved with all the things that have been happening,” Nadal  said. "If you ask me about the year in general it's not bad, I'm number three of the (ATP) Race.

“I’ve been with more problems than I would have liked, but from there I have hope and work to try to make good ground on the tour. The only thing I can put on my side is hope, work and an attitude to play in the best possible way. Then things will go better or worse.”

Photo credit: Barcelona Open BancSabadell Facebook