Nadal resists taking clay reign for granted

No wonder he is called the "king of clay". Rafael Nadal has lost just four of his last 151 matches on his favourite surface, is unbeaten in more than a year and begins his quest for a fourth clay-court title of the season when he plays Jürgen Melzer here today at the Madrid Masters.

The 22-year-old Spaniard can look all but unbeatable on clay but insists that he takes nothing for granted. "Sometimes people have me as the winner before the tournament even starts," he said. "I see the great difficulty in what I am doing and I try to enjoy the success that I am having, this season and last season. It's not going to last for ever, so I have to be grateful for what I have."

While Nadal is pleased to play in his home country, he is not happy with the scheduling of the Madrid Masters. With the French Open less than a fortnight away, the world No 1 believes it would be more appropriate to be playing an event where the conditions were closer to those at Roland Garros.

His wish is likely to be granted in the future, when Madrid is expected to swap places with Rome in the calendar, but for the moment he will have to adapt to the conditions here. Madrid is some 650 metres above sea level and the players say the ball flies appreciably quicker through the air. Nadal believes that gives lesser players an advantage.

"It is much more difficult here because we are finding that it is more difficult to control the ball," he said. "The others can hurt you more with less than they would normally need if we were at a lower altitude on a different surface.

"No matter what happens, I have had a very good clay season and I don't think anything is going to affect my confidence for the French Open, but it is a very important tournament nonetheless and I will do everything possible to play as well as I can. I would love to win because it is a Masters Series and it's here in Madrid at home in Spain."

At least Nadal will not have to play on a different coloured court. There have been suggestions that Madrid would like to change the playing surface to bright blue and one of the practice courts here has been built in the colour.

Nadal is "totally against" the idea. He explained: "The clay season is one of the most historic aspects of the world of tennis. Clay courts are red. They're not blue. That's just show business. The surface has always been red for the clay-court season. The clay-court season is becoming smaller and smaller and if we keep introducing things we only worsen it."

While Nadal and Novak Djokovic play their opening matches today, Andy Murray and Roger Federer were due to make their first appearances last night.

Murray was playing Simone Bolelli for the right to meet Tommy Robredo, who came from a set down to beat Mardy Fish. Robredo, who has already played 25 matches on clay this year (last night was Murray's sixth), has beaten Murray in two of their previous three meetings.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little