As reported by Tennis.com, Rafael Nadal told reporters in Sao Paulo that he’s unsure whether he’ll play the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., next month. Nadal will wait until after he finishes his clay-court swing in Acapulco, Mexico, next week to make a decision.
“Let’s see how my knee responds in Acapulco, we will discuss when we finish all this clay court [swing] what has happened during these three tournaments and what I thought about it. Then we will see if we are ready to play in Indian Wells or not. It is not a matter of better rivals or surface, is a matter of how my knee is progressing. I have no problem playing against better [quality] opponents better because I accept losing or winning. I understand that it’s been a long time since I competed at the highest level. I have had only had two weeks getting rhythm, but I need time to continue to improve and become competitive.”
Nadal is a two-time champion at the BNP Paribas Open, which begins on March 4, the first of two back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 hard-court events culminating in Miami at the Sony Open, an event he’s never won. By the time Indian Wells begins, Nadal would have played three clay tournaments in four weeks as well as a hard-court exhibition event at Madison Square Garden with Juan Martin del Potro. The question for the Nadal camp is whether it’s prudent to put his body through the rigors of hard courts with the European clay-court season just around the corner in April. Nadal hasn’t won a hard-court title since Tokyo in 2010. He hasn’t won a hard-court Masters title since Indian Wells in 2009.
As The Associated Press reported last week, Nadal has made it clear that he believes hard courts are bad for his body. That mental block when it comes to the surface, especially after spending seven months away from competition, might be enough to keep him off it until the North American hard-court summer. If Nadal skips Indian Wells and Miami, he likely won’t play a hard-court event until August.