ATP Tour

Nadal to use old racquet

Rafael Nadal (AFP)
Rafael Nadal (AFP)

Madrid - Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will switch back to his old racquet for the rest of the season in a bid to regain his best form.

Nadal changed racquets just before the start of the European clay court season a month ago, normally his most successful part of the year.

However, after losing to world number one Novak Djokovic in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters and suffering a shock early exit at the hands of Fabio Fognini at the Barcelona Open a week later, the Spaniard believes it is better to make a change at the end of the season.

"I'm changing because I've been playing for many years with this racquet. I had very little time to play with the other one.

"I know that the other racquet is the right one, and I'll play well with it in the future, but I had just a few days to prepare with that racquet before Monte Carlo. Even though I played pretty well in Monte Carlo, I know that here we play at altitude and I have less control with the new one.

"I am going to play with the old one until the end of the season when I have enough time to train with the new prototype and time to adapt to it."

Despite his struggles this season, Nadal remains the favourite for a fifth title at the Madrid Masters this week with Djokovic missing out to rest up ahead of next week's Rome Masters and the French Open later this month.

Nadal is also under pressure to do so as he has 1600 rankings points to defend in Madrid and Rome to prevent his seeding for the French Open plummeting despite being a nine-time champion in Paris.

Djokovic has stormed to victory in each of the four biggest tournaments so far this season, winning his fifth Australian Open in January before completing a hat-trick of Masters titles in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo.

And Nadal admitted that his absence does open up the tournament to those who have pushed the Serb closest in recent months.

"Of course when a player comes from playing and winning everything and doesn't play the tournament there is an opening," he added.

"I think that the players that are playing well, the players that have faced Djokovic a couple of times in semis and quarter-finals now have a big opportunity to win a big tournament now that he's not playing here.

"That doesn't mean you cannot win big tournaments when he is playing."

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