Nadal not bitter after Djokovic loss


Rafael Nadal was nothing but graceful in defeat after his Internazionale d'Italia campaign came to an end at the hands of world number one Novak Djokovic.

Nadal - the 'King of Clay' - lost out to Djokovic 7-5 7-6 (7-4) in a gripping quarter-final clash in Rome on Friday.

Afterwards, Nadal said he was happy to have played his part in such a special match and congratulated the Serb on his win, though he rued some missed opportunities in the first set.

"I am so happy to be in a close match, and I have to congratulate him. He played great," Nadal said.

"We played a beautiful match. I was a bit unlucky today. I had so many chances in the first set.

"But when somebody is winning as much as him for the past years, it's so important to [be opportunistic].

"He hit great shots in important moments. That's it."

Despite the loss, Nadal said he was happy with how he was playing on clay, as he looks to re-establish himself as the dominant force he once was on the surface.

He has taken two titles from the European clay-court season thus far, winning the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open, and is 15-2 throughout.

"I've been playing well during the whole clay court season," the Spaniard added.

"It's true that in Madrid I didn't play well in the last two matches [against Joao Sousa and Andy Murray], but in general I'm playing well in most of the matches most of the time.

"Today I was mentally fighting for every point, hitting good shots. I was very, very, very close this afternoon, and that's positive.

"I'm not disappointed. I was competing at the highest level against the best player. Playing a match like this gives me confidence.

"I'm happy to be part of this rivalry. We'll talk about this when we finish our career, hopefully a long time from now.

"I feel lucky and unlucky at the same time, to be playing in the same era as [Novak]."