Nadal looking for Barcelona win to help ranking
For Rafael Nadal, the Barcelona Open is more than merely a warm-up for the French Open.
The top-ranked Spaniard, who skipped the event last year, will collect 500 points if he wins for the sixth time. That would help hold off the challenge of second-ranked Novak Djokovic, who is still more than 3,000 points behind but is 24-0 in 2011 after winning four titles, including the Australian Open.
''Barcelona is not just training for Roland Garros. I can't think about Roland Garros now. I've got to play with more aggressiveness, serve better and finish off points with more authority and forcefulness,'' Nadal said Monday at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. ''This is the only week I don't have to defend points. You have to think about winning them.''
Nadal's seventh straight Monte Carlo Masters victory on Sunday was his fifth clay court title in a row since an early exit to Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open. The five-time French Open champion is 27-0 on his current clay-court run, dropping only three sets along the way.
But Nadal said even he is susceptible to surprise at an event where his only loss in 26 matches was in 2003 as a 16-year-old youngster.
''I'm not invincible. I've lost before and there are still a lot more games to lose,'' the nine-time Grand Slam champion said. ''Things have gone well the past few years but nobody is perfect.''
Nadal will face either Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Potito Starace later this week in first opening match.