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Nadal: "Accept The Situation And Keep Fighting"

Barcelona, Spain

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal loses in Barcelona for the first time since 2003.

Rafael Nadal has been Mr. April for the past decade.

But following quarter-final exits in back-to-back Fridays at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, the Spaniard will finish the month without a title for the first time since 2004.

"That's sport," said Nadal, following his defeat to Nicolas Almagro. "Obviously it's not the happiest day for me, but obviously I never thought I would win here 70 matches in a row. It was not my day today. I felt I did a lot of things well today to win the match, but at the end, [there] remained a little bit. Just accept the situation and keep fighting."

Nadal went five for 18 on his break point chances against Almagro, and was unable to maintain a 3-1 lead in the decisive set.

"For two sets I was playing better than him, much more chances than him," he said. "I was in advantage, in control, and I missed a lot of opportunities during the match. And playing against a good opponent like him, the normal thing is lose in the end and that's what happened."

Prior to Friday's defeat, the sole blemish on Nadal's Barcelona record had come against Alex Corretja, 11 years ago on his tournament debut. Since then, the Mallorcan been invincible at this ATP World Tour 500 tournament, winning 41 straight matches, eight titles, as well as 44 straight sets since the 2008 final.

Nadal saw two impressive streaks come to an end last year, when he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the Monte-Carlo final. It snapped his 81-match winning streak in the month of April and his string of eight titles at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. He responded by going undefeated over the remainder of the European clay-court season.

He will once again look to bounce back when he takes the court next month to defend his titles - and also 4,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points - at the Mutua Madrid Open, Internazionali BNL d'Italia and Roland Garros.

Friday's loss did Nadal no favours in his efforts to fend off Djokovic in the battle for the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking. Nadal's lead at the top of the leaderboard is now less than 2,000 points, and Djokovic has only 910 points to defend in Madrid, Rome and Paris.

Nadal pinpointed his areas for improvement ahead of those events. "A little bit of rhythm, a little bit of intensity, playing a little bit more regular... To play well on clay, I need to be more stable with my game."

Nadal has never lost more than two matches on clay in a season since 2004, when he went 14-3. He has compiled a 276-13 mark on clay since then. 

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