Rafael Nadal described his 6-1, 6-0 win over Juan Monaco in Madrid as being "perhaps the best I've played this year on clay."
"It was necessary to win and get a 'positive feeling,'" Nadal said in Spanish, having lost in the quarterfinals at both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. "I started nervously... but beginning with 4-1, I played at a good level, perhaps my best this season on clay."
However, his improvement was "not zero to sixty, but little by little," he added.
After the withdrawals of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and the opening-round defeat of Stanislas Wawrinka, Nadal is now the heavy favorite at Madrid. But as usual, the Spaniard would not accept that label. "The favorite, as usual, is whoever lifts the trophy on Sunday. Before, there was no one candidate," he said.