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Rafa Pleased With Progress

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal was pleased with his progress in Indian Wells.

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal declared he is happy with his progress, despite enduring defeat to long-time rival Roger Federer in a rain-delayed semi-final at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday evening in Indian Wells.

The Spaniard was contesting his first tournament since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final at the end of January and commented, "Always I believe that I can play better. But I am happy. I stayed one month and a half almost outside of competition. I came back winning a few comfortable matches in straight sets against not an easy opponent, like Marcel Granollers."

Conditions were tough for both players, with rain even interrupting play for a short while on match point, but Nadal refused to take any credit away from Federer, who has now won 38 of his past 40 matches. "The excuse, the real excuse was he played better than me," said the Mallorcan. "That's the best excuse that I can find, and that's it. The game is simple. I tried but it wasn't enough, and that's all."

The 25-year-old Nadal will now regroup and travel to Miami for the Sony Ericsson Open, where he has three times been a runner-up, but never the victor. Still trophy-less in 2012, Nadal insisted that with the level of competition he is up against, a successful year cannot be measured against trophies in the cabinet.

"I don't consider myself that good to consider 2011 a bad year," said the left-hander, who won a sixth Roland Garros crown, but was beaten in six finals by Djokovic last year. "I am doing a good year playing finals in Australia and semi-finals here. For me, it is a very good start of the year.

"I am playing with energy," he continued. "I am very happy to be here to compete against the best players of the world and to try my best every day in every practice. I’m going to consider a good year if I keep playing the way that I am playing. Even if I don't win something really important, I am happy. For sure the titles are important, but what is more important is the feeling.

"I feel happy today to be here, and I am enjoying the tour. That's the way to have success this year. Play aggressive like I did the last few games and like I did the beginning of the match (against Federer), that's the way. I have to follow this way. I did in Australia. I did here for the most of the time. I will try to keep doing in Miami a little bit better if it's possible and wait to have a good success."

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