Rafael Nadal says he is taking clay slump 'naturally'

AP
Published 8:55 a.m. ET May 12, 2019

MADRID (AP) — Usually this time of the year Rafael Nadal is talking about how his game is peaking ahead of the French Open.

The discussion is typically about how many title-winning streaks he has extended and which records he has broken as the clay season moves toward its climax at Roland Garros.

Not this time, though.

Things are different for Nadal in 2019, and he is in an unfamiliar position after a series of disappointing results on his favorite surface.

Instead of celebrating titles and records, Nadal is having to explain why he has struggled to win matches.

“Tennis is about winning or losing. I’ve won a lot over the years on this surface, but this year it hasn’t been the case. I’ve been really close, but I haven’t been able to win,” Nadal said Saturday after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open for his third straight semifinal elimination on clay this season.

He had already failed to reach the final in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, tournaments he had won the last three consecutive seasons. It was an uncharacteristic streak of poor results for the Spaniard, who hadn’t arrived in Madrid without a title since…

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