Rafael Nadal believes his victory at the Barcelona Open last week has given him a lot of confidence going into the Mutua Madrid Open that got underway this week in Spain's capital city.
The Spaniard, who was only playing in his third tournament of the year, was not at his best but found a way to dig his way through to the title in Catalunya. He came through a gruelling three hour 38 minute final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, which included saving match point in the deciding set.
"Barcelona [was] an important week for me. Without playing my best since the beginning, I was able to be passionate, to stay positive and to accept the challenge [and] try to win matches without playing my best," Nadal said, as quoted on the ATP Tour website. "I was able to achieve another important title in my career. That's important for my confidence."
"I really believe that winning these kinds of tournaments when you are not playing that well can then make a big difference for the next ones. I feel that that was a positive week. Now is another week, and I hope to be ready."
Nadal will equal Novak Djokovic's record haul of 36 Masters 1000 titles if he wins the event in Madrid but he is aware that it will not be an easy task, especially since the tournament has not been his favourite among other clay court events in the past.
The Spaniard is looking for his seventh triumph in Madrid with his last victory at this tournament coming in 2017. Nadal is hoping that playing in front of a reduced home crowd will give him the added impetus to make a run for the title.
"[Madrid] is the most difficult event [on clay] for me, everybody knows. But at the same time [it] is one of the most emotional events for me, playing at home," Nadal added. "We [are] going to have a chance to play with a crowd again. So that means a lot to me. [I am] super happy to be back here."
"In terms of tennis, [it] is true that here the situation is a little bit tougher. [I have] less control. [It is] more difficult to be under control in the points. I had some success here... I had some good tournaments. I'm excited to be back and I hope to be ready to play well."
Nadal, the top seed at the tournament, will start his campaign against either countryman Carlos Alcaraz, who was given a wild card or fellow left-hander Adrian Mannarino. The Spaniard made it clear that be it the first round or the final, his mindset will be the same going into the tournament.
"My mindset is always the same," Nadal said. "Arrive to a tournament, have the right preparation, and try to be ready to compete at the highest level [from] the beginning."