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Rafael Nadal eager to play down Thiem hiccup

(Ah Fat Talk Ball) - Claycourt king Rafael Nadal has played down the significance of his quarter-final defeat by Austrian Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open -- a loss that ended a year-long winning streak on clay and cost him the world number one ranking.

The 31-year-old Spaniard looked unstoppable going into his Friday clash with fifth seed Thiem, having won 50 consecutive sets on the red dirt, but he was well beaten 7-5 6-3.

Coincidentally, it was Thiem who last beat Nadal on clay, at last year's Rome Masters, shortly before the Spaniard rampaged to a 10th French Open title without dropping a set.

However, Nadal quickly slapped down any notion that world number seven Thiem knows the secret of beating the greatest ever exponent of claycourt tennis.

Nadal will now focus on next week's tournament in Rome where, should he win the title, he could reclaim the number one ranking from great rival Roger Federer who has opted to sit out the claycourt season in preparation for Wimbledon and beyond.

Not that the Mallorcan will lose any sleep over it.

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