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Beyond the Baseline

Rafael Nadal unfazed by rankings drop

Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal fell to No. 3 in the rankings after a third-round loss to Fernando Verdasco in Madrid. (Getty Images)

ROME -- Rafael Nadal trails Roger Federer in the rankings for the first time in nearly two years, having dropped to No. 3 after his third-round loss in Madrid to Fernando Verdasco. It's the first time Nadal has been ranked No. 3 since May 10, 2010, but the Spaniard isn't fazed.

"To arrive with No. 2 or No. 3 is not going to change my goal," Nadal said after arriving here for the Italian Open. "The goal is the same if you are No. 2, No. 3 or No. 10. If you are No. 3 or No. 2, you have to win. It doesn't really change the semifinals. You have to win against the best, even if you are No. 2 or No. 3. Doesn't make a big difference."

Nadal returned home to Mallorca after losing in Madrid to spend time with his family and partake in his favorite hobby, fishing. Now back to work, Nadal said he's not concerned about the momentary drop. As he pointed out, he's only 115 points behind Federer and 570 points behind Novak Djokovic in the Race rankings, which measure a player's performance in the calendar year as opposed to the regular rankings, which track performance over the last 52 weeks. For Nadal, it's all about the Race rankings.

"I really don't know much about the [rankings] -- seriously -- but the Race says what you have been doing since the beginning of the season," Nadal said. "When I start the year in January, I understand that like a league -- a soccer league -- you start and finish and the ranking is there but the Race is when you know how you are doing. The Race is the real points that you are playing. That is the only thing that I follow, the Race. You start from zero and finish your season at No. 6, No. 2., No. 1, No. 5 and then you come back to zero. That is the way I understand the sport."
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