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Nadal’s camp denies report he’s already decided to skip Indian Wells, Miami

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is playing in Acapulco, Mexico, at a clay-court event this week. (Ricardo Bufolin/Getty Images)

Spanish newspaper Marca reports that Rafael Nadal has already decided to withdraw from the back-to-back hard-court ATP Masters 1000 events next month in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami to protect his battered knees. It’s surprising news considering Nadal’s comments a week ago that he would wait until after playing a tournament this week in Acapulco, Mexico, to firm up his plans.

But is it true? Nadal’s camp denies the report. His press agent, Benito Perez-Barbadillo Jerez, tweeted this morning that the Marca story was based on speculation and retweeted this tweet from Neil Harman, chief tennis correspondent for The London Times.

Another Spanish reporter tweeted that Nadal’s uncle and coach, Toni, disavowed any reports that his nephew has made a decision.

Matt Cronin reports that Nadal’s team says he intends to play.

Nadal’s withdrawal from Miami would come as no major surprise. He’s never won that tournament and hasn’t played particularly well there. And much like Roger Federer, who has already confirmed he’ll skip Miami, his recent split from IMG gives him even less incentive to play the IMG-owned event.

Indian Wells is a different matter. Nadal is a two-time champion, and he enjoys the quiet and peaceful environment in California. A tournament spokesperson told SI.com that Nadal’s camp has not contacted Indian Wells about withdrawing and that its understanding is that he intends to play. Nadal is also still confirmed for the BNP Paribas Showdown, a March 4 exhibition at Madison Square Garden in New York, where he’ll play Juan Martin del Potro.

If the Marca report is true, it would make Acapulco Nadal’s last tournament until mid-April, when he is expected to resume his typical European clay-court schedule and play play Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before heading to his beloved French Open. A withdrawal from the hard-court Masters would also open the door for No. 6 Tomas Berdych and No. 7 Del Potro to overtake No. 5 Nadal in the rankings. Nadal has a 1,200-point cushion on both with all three playing an ATP 500 this week. Pulling out of both tournaments would cost Nadal 720 points, meaning Berdych or Del Potro could push past the Spaniard with deep runs.

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  • Published On Feb 26, 2013
  • 5 comments
    Michael9
    Michael9

    Benito Perez-Barbadillo (Nadal’s publicity and media relations agent) and the news media have been selling us the questionable story of Nadal's “battered knees”. The fog about Nadal’s knees gives him an excuse for his losses as well as covers up the real issue:  after playing over 700 ATP singles matches, Nadal is probably in the downside of his career. Nadal is sixth among active players in terms of most matches played – he is just 80 matches behind Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas for the No. 2 spot in most matches played.

    http://tinyurl.com/awagp2c

     

    I said Nadal’s “questionable battered knees”, but fairytale is more appropriate. Nadal was able to run like a rabbit in his last match of 2012 (even Tennis Magazine’s Steve Tignor, a Nadal fan, admitted that Nadal did not appear hampered in his loss to Lukas Rosol) – so how battered could his knees still be after a 7-month plus layoff, really? (Thomas Muster took six months to heal his severed knee ligaments, a serious injury). Furthermore, Nadal – whose left knee injuries are basically overuse injuries – was able and willing to play doubles throughout the period he claimed to be injured (in Indian Wells, Miami and even Halle just before Wimbledon). During his layoff, Nadal played golf tournaments last September to November – Nadal plays golf right-handed, so his golf swings stress his left knee (knee injuries are the second most common injury in golf). And upon returning to the ATP, what does he immediately do – play more doubles instead of taking it easy on his so-called “battered knees”. Having collected the lucrative appearance fees in Chile, Brazil and Mexico while avoiding losses to higher-ranked players, now Nadal is probably going to play a lucrative exhibition on an indoor hardcourt in New York City – the same Nadal who has been playing less indoor hardcourt ATP events in recent years, probably to avoid losses. Yup, Benito the publicity agent has done his job  getting us to swallow Nadal’s “battered knees”.

     

    In 2012 Indian Wells, Nadal almost lost to Nalbandian in a tight quarterfinal before being straight-setted by Federer in the semifinals. In Miami, Nadal struggled against Tsonga in the quarterfinal before copping out against Murray. Although Nadal later claimed to Spanish newspapers that he had been suffering from a knee injury (Hoffa Syndrome) since February 2012 – a month  before 2012 Indian Wells – obviously it was not a serious injury given that Nadal chose to play doubles in both Indian Wells (won title) and Miami.

    http://tinyurl.com/8tx9h4z

     

    My guess is that Nadal will show up at Indian Wells given his relationship and possible hidden deals with the tournament owner, but Nadal will likely use his knee excuse to skip Miami. After all,  Indian Wells has been Nadal’s favorite hardcourt event – best winning percentage (85%), most hardcourt titles (two), one final, four semifinals – and he stays on the tournament owner Larry Ellison’s estate and plays tennis with Ellison.  In Miami, Nadal’s match-winning percentage is just 79%, zero titles, three finals, two semifinals and two quarterfinals. His departure from IMG gives him less incentive to play Miami. However, if Nadal skips both hardcourt Masters, it might be a sign of things to come in future hardcourt events.

     

    Eyebrows should be raised if any player is willing to fly from Acapulco, Mexico all the way to New York for a lucrative indoor hardcourt exhibition during the ATP season – yet chooses to skip one or both outdoor hardcourt events (Indian Wells and Miami) closer to Acapulco. It is fair to ask: how much is Nadal getting paid to appear in this exhibition event?

     

    Two posters mentioned that Nadal had a two sets lead over Federer in their 2005 Miami final. What’s not mentioned is the context which helps explain possible reasons why Federer dropped sets to Nadal before he recovered to win the next three sets and the title.

     

    - In 2005, Nadal skipped Indian Wells to practice on hardcourts and prepare for Miami. In Miami, fresh Nadal had a relatively favorable draw. Before his final against Federer, Nadal faced only one top 25 player: his match against a No. 14 player was a three-hour, three setter.

     

    - Meanwhile Federer was understandably tired and/or injured in Miami – he won four straight events in six weeks. Roger won Rotterdam, won Dubai, won Indian Wells (against No. 2 Lleyton Hewitt in a best-of-five set final) and won Miami. Furthermore in Miami, Federer beat three top 20 players Agassi, Henman and Ancic to reach the final. Tired Federer, who had won Indian Wells without dropping a set, dropped sets in two early rounds (R32 and R16).

     

    - In his next event (Monte Carlo), Federer lost in the quarterfinals to Richard Gasquet (a few weeks younger than Nadal). Federer immediately went on an injury break and withdrew from his next event Rome Masters (Federer went on two more injury breaks in 2005: withdrawing from Canadian Masters and later withdrawing from Basel, Madrid Masters, Paris Masters).

     

    MarkAnderson
    MarkAnderson

    Nadal has been runner-up three times at Miami, the first time he won the first two sets against Federer in 2005, which would make him a winner now.  That's pretty good playing.  EugenTanner is such a talented writer, couldn't you just read him all day.

     

    EugeneTanner
    EugeneTanner

    Stay away, Spanish doper!  I have tickets for both and would rather not see your time wasting ass.

     

     

    SingleAlley
    SingleAlley

    Back in 2005 when the finals at Miami was a 5-set affair, Nadal got to final and had a 2 sets to 0 lead over Federer.... unfortunately Fed stormed back and won the last 3 sets...and since then Rafa has not done well in Miami. 

    shackle52
    shackle52

    Nadal's camp has probably forgotten which story they've told and to whom.