Rafael Nadal refuses to stress after going out in the ATP Barcelona second round at the hands of Alex de Minaur. Instead, the clay legend who has dealt with injury over much of the past two seasons is trying to take the best out of his comeback form.

Nadal handled defeat graciously,while peering cautiously ahead at what he might accomplish at the upcoming Madrid and Rome Masters prior to the start of Roland Garros.

“I am leaving convinced that I have taken a step forward, I have to give myself the option to do this in a few weeks, at least try,” the 37-year-old said. 

“I have to measure according to how I feel, so I will play in Madrid. “If my body responds and I have some  good training, I will be able to take a step forward in Madrid.”

The 22-time Grand Slam winner said his comeback depends entirely on how his body handles the big-match stress after dealing for months with abdominal muscle injuries which have kept him off court since the first week of the year.

“If my body is capable of assimilating the (training) loads progressively, that must help me to demand more and more from it, but I don’t know.

“I’m not talking about winning matches, but rather at the level of fighting for things.”

But he holds out hope for improvement: “In Madrid (I would) go a little better, in Rome a little more… and in Paris let it be whatever God wants. Now is the time to try.”

Nadal also paid tribute to the Barcelona clay event, which he has won a dozen times.

“I have been lucky enough to write a beautiful story in this tournament, a story that had not been written before, but others will come to try to surpass it.

“Everything has a beginning and an end, there is no drama. The only sad thing is not to play this tournament again at a professional level, 

“I would have loved to fight for this tournament one more time.”