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Nadal: "Best Still Yet To Come"

Madrid, Spain

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal is bidding to win his fifth ATP World Tour title of the season.

He’s won four of the six tournaments he’s played since returning to action in February, losing only two matches, but Rafael Nadal insists he is not yet back to his best level. The Spaniard was sidelined for seven months with a left knee injury and has returned to triumph in Sao Paulo, Acapulco, Indian Wells and Barcelona, while finishing runner-up in Vina del Mar and Monte-Carlo.

As he gears up to contest the Mutua Madrid Open as the fifth seed, the Spaniard says he is surprised with the results he has posted so far this season, which have already put him in a healthy position to challenge Novak Djokovic in the battle for No. 1, but feels he can raise his game even higher.

“I think I can play better than what I have until now,” said Nadal. “The results are difficult to get better, but the way I played in Monte Carlo and Barcelona could be better, yes. But here we're to keep on trying to do better and keep on fighting to have the opportunities to be competitive.

“I didn’t expect to play much better than what I have after so much time without training or competing or anything. For me it's a great surprise to have had such great results so far, so I keep on working day after day."

The 26-year-old Nadal is bidding to win the Madrid crown for the third time, following victory on the indoor hard courts in 2005 (d. Ljubicic) and at the revamped clay tournament in 2010 (d. Federer). He finished runner-up in 2009 (l. to Federer) and 2011 (l. to Djokovic). But despite amassing 39 clay-court titles, the Mallorcan does not count himself as the favourite in Madrid.

“I don't see myself as winner. Not me really,” said Nadal. “Before starting a tournament I don't see myself as a winner. I just feel myself to be competitive and I just want to give myself the opportunity to be able to fight and to be in a good position to fight until the final rounds.

“I don't have more pressure here than anywhere else,” continued the left-hander. “It's just another tournament. I like to play at home. I like the feeling of playing here, playing in front of my people here, my audience. The more matches that I win, the more time I will have to feel that feeling.”

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