Rafael Nadal admitted that he had a few doubts in his mind after he was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters last week – a tournament he has won on 12 occasions previously.

The Spaniard was playing in only his second tournament of 2021 but his record ensured that he was one of the favourites to take home the crown. However, he suffered a shock defeat to eventual finalist Andrey Rublev in the last eight.

Nadal admitted that it is possible to lose games on a bad day but revealed that it was not just few bad instances during the game that saw him succumb to the Russian. He is certain that he has analysed them well enough ahead of his return to the court at the Barcelona Open this week.

"If you are training well every day, when you play a match and do some things especially bad, it is surprising. I knew what happened immediately. I analyse details from every match, and I know that I need to improve certain things. It was a strange match. You can lose against a great player like Rublev, but I did some things wrong and that surprised me," Nadal said, as quoted on the ATP Tour website.

"Other times, when you're not feeling great, playing bad seems logical. That wasn't the case in Monte-Carlo, but it happened. You need to understand what went wrong to avoid making the same mistakes again. After any loss, you have some days with doubts [in your mind]. The key is to recover and that's what I have been doing. I have trained with the right attitude to have great feelings to compete here."

The clay court season is Nadal's favourite on tour and the former World No.1 will be among the favourites in every tournament he plays. The season culminates with the French Open at Roland Garros, a tournament the Spaniard has won 13 times.

The 20-time men's singles Grand Slam champion is keen to get back to winning ways before stepping on the hallowed ground at Roland Garros. Apart from the ongoing Barcelona Open, Nadal will also play the Masters tournaments in Madrid and Rome.

"I'll go week by week. I have an important month that finishes with Roland Garros. Each match and each week is important now. That's how I see it. I am hoping that the negative stuff doesn't take a toll and I am aiming to be positive every day to get to where I want to be," Nadal added.

"I want to win events before Roland Garros, because I like to win tournaments," said Nadal. "Of course, it's easier winning Roland Garros with the confidence of winning events before, as I have done for much of my career. But the key is put myself into a position to be competitive in every single event. I have not competed a lot over the past year, but even if I felt ready for Monte-Carlo, matches like I had can happen. I will keep working hard for my match tomorrow in Barcelona, and every day for Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros."

Rafael Nadal
All over: Rafael Nadal leaves the court after losing to Andrey Rublev