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Nadal Brings New Outlook To Clay Swing

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal has won 44 matches in a row in Monte-Carlo.

Eight-time defending champion Rafael Nadal continues to rack up the victories at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters - he’ll be going for his 45th straight match win Friday in the quarter-finals - but one thing is different this year. His perspective. 

Nadal, who came back from a seven month injury lay-off in February, said that his enforced time away from the court has given him a fresh outlook on the clay-court season this year. 

“I feel more relaxed,” he said. “I had some uneasy moments during the past year. Now I'm back on the tour. Just being here is good news. And winning matches, I say every day, but winning every match is very important to me today. Every time I have the chance to go on court and play well, feel competitive, is a really good feeling.”

Nadal improved to a 19-1 season record as he cruised past Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-4 in his third-round match Thursday. The Spaniard won 80 per cent of points on serve, not facing a break point, and broke Kohlschreiber three times to claim victory in 81 minutes.

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The next challenger to take on Nadal will be upcoming Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who backed up his second-round victory over Janko Tipsarevic by defeating Florian Mayer 6-2, 6-4 in 67 minutes. 

“Now he's the present and the future,” Nadal said. “He's able to play very well, very aggressive, very good technique. He's a complete player. 

“I have to try to be solid all the time and put him in not easy positions to attack the ball. Hopefully if that happens I will have my chances to go inside, no? I'm going to try to play a solid match with high intensity and we'll see what he is doing.”

Nadal is bidding to win his fourth title in five events this season. Since his return to the tour, the left-hander has finished runner-up in Vina del Mar (l. to Zeballos) and won titles in Sao Paulo (d. Nalbandian), Acapulco (d. Ferrer) and Indian Wells (d. del Potro).

Dimitrov, 21, is through to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final and will face Nadal for the second time, having lost to the 11-time major champion four years ago in Rotterdam.

"Really looking forward to that match tomorrow," said Dimitrov. "Even for now I'm very excited. Hopefully I can perform at my best. It's going to be a great match. I'm feeling quite good coming on court with [the top players]. I feel also physically I'm ready to kind of hang with them more as the match goes on.

"Why not do this thing on a regular basis, of course? I know tomorrow is another point of view, since clay court you're playing against the greatest of all time. There's that feeling and anxiety that you want to come out and do the best you can. I think most of all you have to keep a good composure."

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