Rafael Nadal has admitted that he needs to improve his game ahead of the clay court season despite his success on the surface, which has led to him being dubbed 'The King of Clay.'
The world No. 1 lost to Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Sony Open on Sunday. However defeat on Miami's hard courts means that the clay season is now on the horizon.
"It is great that I am in the top of the race arriving to the clay court season." He told SkySports following his loss, he remained the No 1, regardless, after the ATP rankings were updated yesterday.
"But now we start on clay and I need to be 100 per cent. I need to work hard and try to be in better shape for clay."
It's hard to perceive that the Spaniard will come unstuck in the next few months before the French Open, such is Nadal's dominance.
The 27-year-old has won over 40 titles on clay alone and is targeting a record ninth win at Roland Garros, his favourite event in the calender. He has only ever lost once in that major and that was back in 2009.
Last year Nadal was in imperious form, once more, as he only lost once on the surface - to Djokovic - in the Monte Carlo Masters. He will look to atone for that defeat against his great rival when the event starts in two weeks time.
"To be able to play in the final is a lot of points" the winner of 13 Grand Slams continued.
"I had a few good matches in Miami so that gives me confidence to start a very important part of the season for me."
The pair met on Sunday for the 40th time. Nadal has the upper hand in the ever-fierce rivalry with 22 wins to the Serbian's 18.
In 16 meetings on clay, Nadal has defeated the the world No 2 on 13 occasions.
The Balearic born superstar is now just one Grand Slam away from equaling Pete Sampras' record of 14. He will, therefore, be expected to jump to second in the all-time list at the French Open which begins at the end of next month.
32-year-old Roger Federer tops the list with 17 titles, and the Swiss star remains the only man to succeed at Roland Garros, in 2009, since Nadal exerted his dominance on the major.
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