Rafael Nadal’s decision to skip Miami Open unfortunate – but it’s the right call as he eyes French Open No 14
With Roger Federer already out, Rafael Nadal’s decision to withdraw from the Miami Open would have undoubtedly been a blow for the tournament.
Though it is hard to tell how either would have done at the event, the fact that neither will play is certainly disappointing in terms of attracting spectators – which are being allowed in at limited capacity – and TV viewers around the world.
However, Nadal’s withdrawal is certainly not surprising and it will almost certainly be the best decision for him as he looks ahead to the rest of the season.
To start, there can be little doubt that the world No 3 is probably still working off the back injury that troubled him in Australia and playing too soon would likely aggravate any persisting issues.
Aside from that, it is clear that Nadal is focusing on the clay-court season that will start shortly after the event in Florida ends.
There has been a theme when it comes to the ATP Masters 1000 tournament and the Spaniard as he also withdrew from the Miami Open in 2018 and 2019.
It can’t be an easy decision to withdraw from the event, with it being one of the few big titles on the ATP Tour that he has never won.
Nadal is a five-time runner-up in Miami, having lost in the final to Federer the last time he played at the event in 2017.
However, he is likely aware that it is unrealistic for him to win the title now, having not proved a threat on hard courts to Novak Djokovic in recent years and with other players such as Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in a strong position to beat him on the surface.
He would certainly love to have one Miami Open title behind him but, as he approaches his 35th birthday in June, he will understandably be hoping to make further history on his beloved clay courts.
His first events on the clay this year will likely be the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open, events that he has already won a record 11 times, after which he is expected to feature in Madrid and Rome before a tilt at a 14th French Open title.
He is by far and away the greatest clay-court player of all time and if he is fit and healthy this year there is no doubt that he will once again be the sizable favourite to win at every clay tournament he plays.
It is perhaps unlikely that he will win them all, but he will be the man to beat Roland Garros and victory there would see him win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.
It would certainly be unwise for Nadal to jeopardise his strongest chance of winning another major title by playing in Miami on a different surface and if he is not quite yet at peak fitness.
It is certainly disappointing to not see him on court and it will be almost two months since the Australian Open when he plays in Monte Carlo, but to see him fit and healthy on clay courts is arguably one of the best spectacles in the sport.
Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @odicksonjefford.
LTA chief insists Emma Raducanu will not lose focus after stunning rise to the top
Lloyd has called for the newly-crowned US Open champion to be given “breathing space”.
Emma Raducanu delighted to return back in the UK and a reunion with her father
Raducanu was pictured outside her house after travelling back from New York.
Introducing Wilson’s Blade v8 racket Emma Raducanu could use at the Australian Open
Emma Raducanu is set to be wielding a new-look weapon when he plays at the Australian Open in January.
Shock defeat for Andy Murray as he is beaten in Rennes
The Russian is ranked 42 places below Murray.
John McEnroe speaks for the first time about comments over Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon exit
John McEnroe has insisted he has no…
Stunning TV figures for US Open finals confirm appeal of Emma Raducanu
The TV viewing figures are in for this year’s US Open and they confirm that more tuned in to watch the women’s final than the men’s final.
Emma Raducanu thinking about a return to the court after US Open heroics
Raducanu has admitted to still being on “cloud nine” after her stunning US Open victory.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives a glowing reference to Emma Raducanu
Jurgen Klopp has given newly crowned US Open champion Emma Raducanu a glowing endorsement.
Boris Johnson talks with Emma Raducanu and discusses growth of grassroots tennis
Jurgen Klopp and Jessica Ennis-Hill joined in with the widespread praise of the teenager from Kent.
A look at each area of Emma Raducanu’s game as she looks to build on US Open win
Raducanu’s return of serve is arguably her strongest asset.