Nadal not bitter after Djokovic loss

Updated: 

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]."