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Nadal 'encouraged' by performance despite loss to Djokovic

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal will be looking to win the French Open for a ninth time © Getty Images
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World No.1 Rafael Nadal is confident about his chances of winning a ninth French Open despite losing to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Rome Masters on Sunday.

Nadal, who was seeking an eighth title in Rome as the defending champion, lost 4-6 6-3 6-3 to Djokovic in the last Masters 1000 event of the season to be played on clay.

"Two weeks ago, my chances to play well in Roland Garros were not very high," Nadal said. "But I will arrive now more encouraged."

Nadal lost in the quarter-finals of both the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open, but recovered to lift the Madrid Open before going to Rome.

Nadal suffered his fourth straight defeat to Djokovic, but with the Serb likely to be his main challenger at the French Open, Nadal remains positive about his chances of retaining the Grand Slam.

"My feelings [about Roland Garros] are better now than one week ago," he said. "Each week of the clay season got better for me. I hope to be ready.

"I'm very proud about this week. I was able to play in another final here. I was able to compete well against Novak, probably one of the best players of the moment."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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