Injured Rafael Nadal pulls out of Miami and Indian Wells with clay season looming
Rafael Nadal has confirmed he will miss ATP events in both Indian Wells and Miami this month as the Spaniard looks to recover in time for the clay-court season.
The Spaniard pulled out of this week’s Mexican Open in Acapulco after suffering a recurrence of a hip problem.
The world No 2 will now skip both Masters 1000 tournaments – Indian Wells begins March 5, Miami on March 2 - in a bid to be fit for the clay season.
Nadal fell to Roger Federer in both events last year (L16 in Indian Wells, final in Miami) but went on to win the Monte-Carlo Masters and Madrid Open before claiming his 10th French Open title.
Rafa Nadal and Toni NadalGetty Images
Confirming his absence on Facebook, Nadal said:
" Hi everyone. Unfortunately, the injury I suffered in Acapulco before starting the tournament is in the same area as the one suffered in Melbourne. I won’t be able to play in Miami or Indian Wells as I need to recover. It was very painful to retire from Acapulco and it’s very hard as well to not play in the USA. I will miss you and I will do everything that’s possible to be back there in 2019. Thank you."
Concerns for the King of Clay
Missing March's double-header in the US will only increase fears that the 31-year-old will not be fully fit to defend his clay titles in Europe.
The Monte-Carlo Masters gets under way on April 15, with Barcelona (April 23), Madrid (May 6) and Rome (May 13) to follow before the French Open on May 27.
Rafael Nadal with the French Open trophyGetty Images
An 11th title at Roland Garros will be his primary goal, and that could see the 16-time Grand Slam champion play it very carefully in the build-up. He'll want to be 100 per cent heading to Paris, meaning he could well sacrifice a few more tournaments along the way.
One cannot help but wonder what Roger Federer will make of his friendly foe's fitness fears. The Swiss skipped last year's clay-court season to focus on winning Wimbledon - a gamble which paid which paid off, but an ailing Nadal this time around could tempt Federer into making a return.