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Monday, April 21, 2014
Rafael Nadal's confidence shaken

ESPN.com news services

BARCELONA, Spain -- Top-ranked Rafael Nadal gets an immediate chance to shake off his surprisingly early exit at the Monte Carlo Masters by going for his ninth Barcelona Open title this week.

The Spaniard is hoping to recover his clay-court form after a quarterfinal loss to David Ferrer in Monaco, where the eight-time champion made his earliest exit since 2003. He lost to Ferrer for the first time on clay since 2004 at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal acknowledged that his confidence is shaken following the Australian Open final loss to Stanislas Wawrinka, and says his state of mind "is what it is."

"I started the season OK except for some lack of confidence and competitiveness in important moments of certain matches," he said Monday.

He added that "I've faced adversities throughout my career, and this is just another one."

Nadal opens play later this week against either Nikolay Davydenko or Albert Ramos.

"All my rivals are dangerous. Every one of them," Nadal said. "I always go out there to play knowing that I can win or lose."

Ferrer, meanwhile, will begin a 12th quest for a first Barcelona Open title by facing Teymuraz Gabashvili after the Russian beat Michal Przysiezny 6-3, 6-4 in the first round on Monday.

The second-seeded Ferrer has finished runner-up on the Real Club de Tenis' outdoor red clay on four occasions.

Third-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy will play Santiago Giraldo of Colombia after he moved past Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-2.

Other first-round winners included Spaniards Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Montanes, and Inigo Cervantes, French pair Kenny de Schepper and Eduardo Roger-Vasselin, Austria's Dominic Thiem, Australia's Marinko Matosevic, Kazakhstan's Andrey Golubev, and Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.