Rafael Nadal insists his ‘confidence is back’ despite loss to ‘great guy’ Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal pensive

World No 2 Rafael Nadal believes he took a major step forward during the Barcelona Open despite his semi-final defeat to Dominic Thiem.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner was looking to win a record 12th title in Barcelona, but for the second tournament in a row he fell in the last four.

He was beaten at the same stage by Fabio Fognini at the Monte-Carlo Masters last week and on Saturday he lost 6-4, 6-4 against Thiem.

The Spaniard admitted after last week’s defeat that he was struggling to find some rhythm on clay after a stop-start season, but he believes he got his confidence back in Barcelona.

“It’s been a very positive week,” he said. “I came from a lot of low moments in Monte-Carlo.

“Today was the first day I felt really confident on the clay, it’s my best match on the surface this year. My confidence is back thanks to this week.

“I really believe that I’ve made improvements. This is a good base to try and achieve my goals for the next couple of weeks.”

Thiem, who lost last year’s French Open final against King of Clay, secured his fourth victory on clay Nadal, who had nothing but praise for the Austrian.

“He played great. He did all the things that he had to do very well and with big success,” he said. “I am happy the way that I played from the baseline.

“Starting the point in good position or in bad position, changed a lot… but the rest of the things have been positive and as I said before, congrats to him, he played great.

“He’s a great guy and great player and I’m happy for him. I wish him all the best.”

More from Tennis365: