Nadal turns focus to Spanish clay

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iol spt apr23 Nadal REUTERS Rafael Nadal prepared to move from one record-setting week to the next as the eight-time Monte Carlo champion settled in as top seed at his home Barcelona Open.

Barcelona – Rafael Nadal prepared on Monday to move from one record-setting week to the next as the eight-time Monte Carlo champion settled in as top seed at his home Barcelona Open.

Less than 24 hours after crushing Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-1 for his eighth straight trophy on the clay of the principality, Nadal was outlining his chances of claiming a seventh in Barcelona, the hotbed of Spanish tennis.

“Beating the No 1 is special, but Novak (mourning the loss of his grandfather last week) made more errors than usual and I took advantage of that. I did have a few mistakes with my backhand though,” said Nadal, seeded ahead of Andy Murray in the field.

The winner of six of the past seven editions at the Real Club de Tenis will open on Wednesday after a first-round bye, facing the winner from compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Belgium's Olivier Rochus.

Nadal said that despite trailing Djokovic in the rankings as the Serb put together a record-setting 2011 season of ten titles including three of the four grand slams, “I had a great season last year.

“But there was a player who did better, and usually sport is fair. And at the (January) Australian Open final, I came close to winning. But it's really only about the titles, not whom you defeat in the final.”

Nadal will aim to keep his focus this week.

“I'm only concentrating on playing well here, this is one of the nicest tournaments of the year for me. I'm home and this is very special to me. I'm so comfortable here.”

Amid the usual tight security which follows Nadal in Spain, the top seed managed to make his way to the court for a hit-out on the clay to adjust to conditions after coming from his Monte Carlo success.

The Spaniard also repeated his goal of a medal at the summer London Olympics.

“You have to get there well-prepared.

“It's a difficult tournament, because it's only held every four years. And this one is on grass at the All England Club and it's the best three sets.

“There will be no margin for error. Any mistakes will be lethal.”

On court, first-round play got underway, with two Frenchmen advancing to the second round.

Benoit Paire beat Czech Lukas Rosol 6-3, 7-5 while Edouard Roger-Vasselin defeated countryman Stephane Robert 6-2, 6-3. – Sapa-AFP

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