More Nadal pullouts likely prior to clay season

ACAPULCO (Mexico) • Tennis' world No. 2 Rafael Nadal may have to make the difficult decision of pulling out of next week's Indian Wells and the subsequent Miami Open in order to preserve his fitness ahead of his French Open title defence.

The Spaniard withdrew from the Mexican Open on Tuesday, cutting short his comeback from an injury first suffered during the Australian Open quarter-final when his ailing right hip flared up again.

According to Spanish daily Marca, Nadal is considering skipping the Indian Wells and Miami hard courts as he wants to be fit when the ATP Tour switches to clay with his first event set for the Monte Carlo Masters on April 15. The French Open begins on May 21.

"My goal and hope was to play in this tournament. Unfortunately, in my last training session yesterday, I felt a sharp pain in my leg again," the 31-year-old said hours before what would have been his opening match in Acapulco.

Nadal, favoured to win the tournament and a two-time champion in 2005 and 2013, had been due to face compatriot Feliciano Lopez.

"I took all the appropriate steps to arrive at the tournament in form. I went to Cozumel first, to adapt (to the climate)," he told reporters.

"But yesterday, in my last training session before the tournament, during one movement, I felt a sharp pain again in the same area where I had the problem in Australia."

Sixteen-time Grand Slam singles winner Nadal limped out of the first Major of the year on Jan 23 and he has since lost his No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer.

Doctors in Mexico warned him not to play for fear of aggravating the injury. "I still don't know what it is, because we don't know. It seems it's not as bad as what I had at the Australian Open," he said.

"Now, my main goal is to find out the extent of the injury."

This marks the sixth tournament in a row that Nadal has pulled out of or retired from - Basel , Paris Masters, ATP Finals, Brisbane, the Australian Open, and Acapulco.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'More Nadal pullouts likely prior to clay season'. Subscribe