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Nadal tries philosophical approach at Madrid Open to bounce back from dip in form

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MADRID - Rafael Nadal is adopting a philosophical approach at the Madrid Open as he tries to recover from back-to-back quarterfinal exits at clay court events he once dominated.

Bidding to defend his title in the Spanish capital, the top-ranked Nadal downplayed his earlier exits at Monte Carlo and Barcelona and called his previous dominance there "not normal."

Nadal is an eight-time winner at both Barcelona and Monte Carlo.

"When you lose, you have a hard moment, you have more doubts. But that's what happened," Nadal said Sunday. "Maybe it's normal to lose ... in the quarterfinals. Maybe what's not normal is what happened during the past nine years."

After a bye, Nadal will open his Madrid title defence against the winner of the first-round match between Jurgen Melzer and Juan Monaco.

"I have been working since I lost in Barcelona," Nadal said. "You have to continue and continue and continue, and think that things are going to work out for you. When you come from tough moments like this, you come back with a little more intensity to try to be back as soon as possible. That's what I'm trying to do right now."

Nadal may receive a boost by the withdrawal of second-ranked Novak Djokovic, who announced Sunday he couldn't play the event because of a wrist injury that had already affected his play at Monte Carlo last month.

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