Rafa Nadal has set his sights on winning a 10th French Open title, after a day following his shock defeat to Dominic Thiem in the Rome Masters quarter finals on Friday.
Thiem has the upper hand over Nadal this time
Nadal, a seven-time champion in the Eternal City, had outplayed the Austrian to win the Madrid Masters final last week. But he had no answer to the eighth seed's aggressive approach and impressive range of shots on a shocked centre court as Thiem stormed to a 6-4, 6-3 victory in 1 hour 51 minutes, ending Nadal's 17-match winning streak.
Thiem will now meet the winner of the quarter final meeting between four-time winner Novak Djokovic and unseeded Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal, meanwhile, said he intends to have a free weekend to unwind before ramping up his preparations for Roland Garros from Monday.
“Tomorrow I'll be in Mallorca fishing or playing golf, or another thing. I'm going to rest a little bit, I think I deserve it. From Monday and Tuesday I will start to prepare for Roland Garros. It's an important event for me. If you do things well, you have more chances in Roland Garros. I hope to play my best tennis in Roland Garros”, the Spaniard said.
Nadal, given a first round bye, played only three games of his second round match with Nicolas Almagro before his unseeded compatriot retired injured on Wednesday. The 30-year-old made amends for his comparative lack of playing time with a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Jack Sock on Thursday. But from the outset against Thiem, Nadal looked in trouble.
The Austrian's serve, precision and movement were near flawless and soon had Nadal hitting shots wide of the mark. As the centre court crowd steadily got behind the 23-year-old upstart, Nadal's confidence waned. Before the two-hour mark, Thiem avenged his Madrid Masters defeat, breaking Nadal in their final game when the Spaniard hit a wayward return.
Nadal admits he was outplayed by Thiem in Rome
“I didn't play very well. I want to congratulate him because he was better than me this afternoon. He was great, in every aspect. He played long, he played very aggressive, hitting the ball very strong with high intensity - in general I was not able to push him back”, Nadal conceded afterwards. “It's not easy playing every day for the last four weeks”.