Rafael Nadal has a 17-0 record for the season but decided to withdraw from the Miami Open, which gets underway on March 21, because he does not want to risk any further injury as he enters the latter stages of his decorated career. “I need to make that transition step by step,” Nadal said when explaining moving over from the hard courts in America to preparing for the French Open on clay in April.
Rafael Nadal says he is skipping the Miami Open at the end of the month because quickly transitioning from hard courts to clay could prove too “dangerous”.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion has won three tournaments already in 2022 – the Melbourne Summer Set, Australian Open and the Mexican Open – and has a 100 per cent win record this year.
The 35-year-old has reached the last-16 of Indian Wells and will play USA’s Reilly Opelka on Wednesday, but that will spell the end of his time on the hard courts for now
Nadal had to end his 2021 season early due to tendonitis in both knees and a lingering left foot injury.
But he says he cannot risk further damage by playing in another Masters tournament on a hard surface before the Monte-Carlo Masters commences on April 4.
“For my body, it is not good to have quick transitions from different surfaces,” he told reporters.
“Clay to hard – well, hard to clay. If I play Miami, I will not have time to rest and no time to make a swift transition to the clay.
“I need to push since the beginning very hard, so that’s dangerous for my foot, for my knees.
“I need to make that transition step by step. I cannot make drastic changes like I did in the past, so that’s why I decided to stop after here and to have, like, three weeks before the clay court season start for me.”
Nadal is a five-time finalist at the Miami tournament, but has not played at the event since 2017.
Miami Open tournament director James Blake said: “Rafa will certainly be missed. He has so many fans here in South Florida, and we hope to see him back in Miami next year.”
Djokovic and Federer will also be absent from the Masters 1000 tournament which will see 65 of the top 75 ranked men taking part.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has been granted a wild card, along with Nick Kyrgios, Jack Draper, Jordan Thompson and Juncheng Shang
Speaking after his straight sets victory over Great Britain’s Dan Evans in the last-32, Nadal was pleased to get his 400th Masters win.
“It’s important victory against a tricky opponent,” he said. “It’s not an easy opponent to play. He plays tactically very well, using very well his slice, then playing aggressive, changing rhythms on the points.
“A positive win for me. Happy to save that tough moment in the first set, then the things went a little bit better later.”