"I'm on the right track", said the Spaniard.
He did salvage some pride by seeing off more pressure on his serve to at least hold twice and force Nadal to serve out to take the first set in 40 minutes.
The Serb successfully defended two match points in the final match and even had a match-point before Nadal claimed the match and ended a run of seven successive defeats to Djokovic to set up his eighth final in Madrid. It gives me the possibility to play another final and to continue in a positive line.
"The truth is I was up against an opponent who in the next five to 10 years will be fighting for the most important titles so I'm very happy to have won; it was a very exciting game", Nadal told Television Espanola.
Still, the second-ranked Djokovic left Spain with reason to feel good about his game. "I haven't had that feeling in months, so it's great to feel that".
Murray also lost at the last-16 stage in last month's Monte Carlo Masters, his first tournament after recovering from an elbow injury, and was then beaten by Dominic Thiem in the Barcelona Open semi-finals.
But what was just the Scot's third title on the surface, following wins in Munich and Madrid, has never looked further away.
"I'm just going to go along, and in the next three, four weeks maximum, I'll make my decisions around that, about the team", Djokovic said.
Thiem also fell victim to Nadal's supreme form in the final in Barcelona two weeks ago, but there was little for the 23-year-old to be dispirited about as he pushed Nadal all the way in his first Masters series final. "Let's respect his level right now because it's true that perhaps it's not as high as it used to be, but I'm telling you, it's been a lot of years, and I know because I've been in his skin, being up there every single week, being No. 1 every single week, it's almost impossible". Now he's in the quarters playing very good tennis. "It means the world to me to make it to another final here in Madrid". Just his quality was very high.
One more win would put the Spaniard in flawless position as the favourite for the upcoming French Open, which Nadal last won in 2014. "I felt like I was playing well throughout the week". "Sometimes against the best players in the world, you even lose when you play well". Hopefully I'll have another good result in Rome'.
Djokovic, though, fired long with a volley on Nadal's third match point sparking wild scenes of celebration.