Rafael Nadal has blamed a hectic playing schedule for his shock loss to Dominic Thiem at the Italian Open on Friday.
The Spaniard was knocked out in straight sets on the red clay of Rome, ending a streak of 17 unbeaten matches with two of those wins being over the Austrian in finals.
Barcelona F: Nadal d. Thiem 6-4 6-1
Madrid F: Nadal d. Thiem 7-6(8) 6-4
Rome QF: Thiem d. Nadal 6-4 6-3
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 19, 2017
Nadal has featured in four clay tournaments in the last four weeks – in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and now Rome – and while the travel around Europe has not been an issue, the number matches has worn him out a touch.
"I've been playing a lot," confirmed Nadal after his loss to Thiem.
"It's difficult, every day. Madrid, then Rome back-to-back, after Barcelona. It's not easy playing every day for the last four weeks."
However, Nadal did credit Thiem – who broke the King of Clay's serve four times – during the press conference after saying he wasn't at his best.
"I didn't play very well," admitted Nadal.
"I want to congratulate him because he was better than me this afternoon. Great, in all aspects. He played long, he played very aggressive, hitting the ball very strong with high intensity.
"In general, I was not able to push him back. He got a lot of points, maximum, more times than me. And that's the key of this game. It's obvious I didn't play my best match."
While the loss stings Nadal, he revealed that he would enjoy a deserved break as he prepares for the upcoming French Open, where he wants to be at his best both physically and mentally.
"Tomorrow I'll be in Mallorca fishing or playing golf, or another thing…I'm going to rest a little bit, I think I deserve it," said the 14-time grand slam winner.
"Then from Monday and Tuesday I will start to prepare for Roland Garros. It's an important event for me.
"If you do things well, you have more chances in Roland Garros. I hope to play my best tennis in Roland Garros."