Rafael Nadal may not be headed to The Golden State next week after all…
The 26-year-old Spanish tennis star may pull out of next week’s tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., to show mercy on his frail knees from the hard courts, according to ESPN.
Nadal said he loves the tournament, which he won in 2007 and 2009, but says he has to protect his knees and stay healthy for the European clay-court season, which ends with the French Open.
He didn’t say whether he would play at Key Biscayne, Fla., where he’s reached the final three times, after the Indian Wells tournament.
“My intention is to go to Indian Wells,” said Nadal after reaching the second round of the Mexican Open. “This is the truth because I love this tournament and the priority is to play. But if I don’t feel comfortable playing and decide to wait to play on the hard courts, that’s how it will be and I’ll rest for the clay-court season (in Europe). But today I can’t answer.”
Nadal has been critical of playing on hard courts, suggesting it has caused the knee injuries that are threatening his career. This month in Brazil, he said the ATP was not doing enough to protect players’ health, saying the increased number of tournaments on hard courts will lead to long-term injuries that will affect the players even after they retire.
“I said the truth. I don’t know if I’m going to go or not,” Nadal repeated. “It will depend on how I feel every day and every week.”
Nadal said the condition of his healing left knee, which caused him to take a seventh-month break from competition, was still day-to-day.
“Even when the knee is perfect I had some days better than others. Right now I have had three days in which the knee has felt fine and that makes me happy, that we’re going in the right direction,” Nadal said.