Why Rafael Nadal Will Continue His Dominance of the Barcelona Open

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IApril 20, 2014

The Barcelona Open has been dominated by Rafael Nadal over the last decade.
The Barcelona Open has been dominated by Rafael Nadal over the last decade.Michel Euler

Rafael Nadal shouldn't really have a point to prove to anyone, but after the shock loss to David Ferrer in Monte Carlo, perhaps the player has something to prove to himself.

The clay courts of the Barcelona Open could not have arrived at a better time for the Spaniard, who will be looking to dominate on home soil as he has done over the past decade, winning eight of the last nine editions of the tournament, per ATPWorldTour.com.

Indeed, the last time that he lost in Catalonia was back in 2003, per The Times of India, the same year as his earliest loss in Monte Carlo.

Nadal himself noted via The Times of India:

I just have to keep working to try to find the solutions in Barcelona. I am going to try and play well there and fight for the matches. After what happened in Australia it was a little bit harder for me to find again the intensity, the confidence, the inside power that always I have.

While the loss to Ferrer would not have been expected, it has allowed Nadal some extra time with which to fine-tune his game.

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Per BarcelonaOpenBancSabadell.com, as soon as he arrived in Barcelona on Saturday, the No. 1 seed went straight to the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona to train with his uncle Toni Nadal.

Given that his first match against either Albert Ramos or Nikolay Davydenko is not due to take place until Wednesday, the Spaniard should have ironed out any lingering doubts about his current form in good time to make the requisite impression on the tournament.

Ferrer is second favourite for the tournament, and if the two reach Sunday's final, there is an immediate chance of revenge for Nadal. Not that any such notion would enter his head.

Nadal has an immediate chance for revenge against David Ferrer if both make the final.
Nadal has an immediate chance for revenge against David Ferrer if both make the final.Michel Euler

Of perhaps more concern is a perceived lack of confidence that has crept into the Spaniard's game since the loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open, due in no small part to the back injury suffered in the warm-up for the final, per Paul Newman of The Independent.

Mentally drained, the Spaniard has perhaps never fully recovered his invincibility in his own mind, despite wins in Doha and Rio.

But clay is where he goes about his best work, and even the loss to Ferrer can't disguise that 43 of his tour titles have come on the red surface, per ATPWorldTour.

It's inconceivable that such a consummate performer on the surface will suffer a second shock defeat in a week, and if confidence were lacking, he is back in the bosom of a venue where he has enjoyed unparalleled success.

He's certainly making the most of his free time:

Perhaps a slight change of tack is required to re-energise the Spaniard's game, with a more attack-minded game at the net when required.

His suffocating style of play has been built around the ability to dominate rallies and force his opponents into making elementary mistakes, and so the drop-off in intensity just recently has no doubt been a contributory factor in his losses.

Barcelona, therefore, represents a fine chance for Nadal to get back to doing what he does best and attack from the very beginning of the tournament.

With the French Open on the horizon, Nadal will want to approach one of his favourite tournaments in the best possible way. 

Fernando Verdasco represents a small hurdle in the quarter-final should he make it that far, but there isn't really much to worry Nadal in his half of the draw, per ATP World Tour.

Therefore it's hard to see the Spaniard troubled as he looks to extend his magnificent run in Barcelona.