Tennis: Nadal denies he will skip Indian Wells, Miami Masters Series events

MADRID (AFP) - Rafael Nadal has denied Spanish media reports that he will not take part in the Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami next month, as he returns from a serious knee injury.

The tennis star only recently returned to competition after a seven-month layoff but has so far decided to play in clay-court tournaments in Chile, Brazil and this week at the Mexican Open in Acapulco.

"My intention is to go to Indian Wells, my priority is to play there, but if I don't feel comfortable and I'm not OK, then I will have to take a decision," he said after a 6-2, 6-2 win over Sebastian Schwartzman in his opening match in Acapulco.

"These media companies cannot know more than me," he was quoted as saying by Spanish media on Wednesday.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion insisted, however, that his main objective was still finding full fitness and form before a busy stretch of European clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open at the end of May.

"My day-to-day objective is to recuperate the knee until it gets back to 100 per cent and I am able to return to competing and full training as quickly as possible. If this happens, then the objectives are the same as they have always been," he said.

"If I don't recover, we will accept it and deal with it calmly and continue being positive. We will continue working so that when I am fine, I can return to competing at the highest level in a short space of time."

Nadal has shown few signs of rustiness on his return so far as he reached the final in his first tournament back in Vina del Mar, Chile, before winning the Brazil Open a fortnight ago.

However, the world No. 5 insists it is taking some time to recover his best form after such a long spell out.

"You need to recover the speed and concentration that come only with competition and seven months without competing takes its toll," he added.

Nadal's uncle and coach Toni Nadal also denied that any final decision had been taken on his nephew's schedule for March but did warn that playing on hard courts could be more damaging to his knee than his favoured clay-court surface.

"No decision has been taken and Rafa finished pretty well in Sao Paulo after winning this title in Brazil against David Nalbandian. Now it is just a question of monitoring how the knee recovers," he was quoted as saying by sports daily AS.

"We need to be cautious on when Rafa returns to a hard court but the fact is that Rafa feels really good in Acapulco and at no point has he said to me that he has decided not to play on the hard courts in the USA."