By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal put a positive spin on his latest setback after being out-foxed in a 6-3 6-7(6) 6-4 defeat by Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round of the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club on Tuesday.
The former world number one was hoping to back up his title at Stuttgart last week with a strong showing on the west London grasscourts, but was stopped in his tracks by a tricky opponent.
Nadal's early loss at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event means his chances of climbing back into the top eight of the ATP rankings from his current 10th spot in time for the All England Club fortnight are gone.
Nadal, 29, said he would most likely return home to Mallorca once he is out of the doubles at Queen's, satisfied with his preparation for Wimbledon where he will bid for a third title having been champion in 2008 and 2010.
"I never played more than this (on grass) before Wimbledon," the Spaniard told reporters. "The year I played five matches, that was the year that I won (at Queen's) in 2008 and this year I already had five matches.
"There is nothing very negative. I won a tournament last week. This week I lost an opportunity, but, my feeling, my thoughts are no different today than yesterday.
"I am better, I am playing better than before and enjoying more on court than before."
Barring withdrawals, however, Nadal is unlikely to be seeded in the top eight at Wimbledon, meaning a potentially nightmarish draw.
The big guns could await in the last 16 and he might want to avoid Dolgopolov too.
Nadal never really got to grips with the spins the Ukrainian can conjure and when he did get a chance to claim victory, his own gremlins returned to haunt him.
"Games on grass are like this," he said. "I was a break up in the third, and then he played some good points. I missed a few balls. Then especially with the 30-40, 4-4, one forehand I missed and that's it.
"I didn't play a bad match. I played a great second set and I was playing a good third.
"But at the end, he played well and he was a little bit better than me. That's all that I can say today."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)