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Nadal Ready To Hit Top Form On "Emotional" Paris Return

Paris, France

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is hopeful that his form is set to crescendo in Paris over the next two weeks as he looks to win his ninth Roland Garros crown.

By his own lofty standards, the European clay-court swing has been a mixed bag for Nadal, quarter-final exits in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona countered with victory in Madrid and a runner-up showing in Rome last week. But the Spaniard is feeling confident returning to the scene of some of his greatest triumphs.

“During the clay court season, I got a little bit better week by week,” Nadal told media at Roland Garros on Friday. “Last week in Rome, it was tough physically. I played a lot of time, but in the end sometimes you need these things. 

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“I think I played a little bit better during the whole tournament, and especially after the first two rounds. I think it was a positive step for me, and I’m happy with the way that I finished in Madrid and Rome. I’m not that happy about what I did in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, but that's sport. 

“We are here in Roland Garros, and I’m just happy to be back in a place that has given me so much. It's a very special place for me, and I’m just enjoying the first few days here. Hopefully the weather will be better.”

The 27-year-old Nadal is bidding to become the first man in history to win five consecutive Roland Garros crowns. His victories in 2010-’13 followed on from success in 2005-’08. From 2005 to 2013, he has only lost one match at the Paris-based Grand Slam - against Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round - and has compiled a 59-1 event record.

“This place is the most important place in my career,” said Nadal, a winner of 13 Grand Slam championships. “It’s just always very emotional when I have the chance to be back here and it’s always going to be great news when I am in Paris to play Roland Garros. I’m very excited.”

Should Nadal win his opener against American wild card Robby Ginepri, he could take on upcoming Austrian, Dominic Thiem, who made a breakthrough three weeks ago in Madrid when he stunned Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round.

“He's doing great,” said Nadal of the 20-year-old Thiem. “He's playing at a very high level for this year. I didn't have the chance to see him play a lot, but I have heard very positive things about him. Everybody says that he's a future top, top player.”

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