Absent From Indian Wells and Miami, Rafael Nadal Targets Clay-Court Season

Much to his disappointment, Rafael Nadal will miss out on the Indian Wells and Miami Open tournaments due to injury. Nadal made the announcement on Friday, March 2nd, the day after he withdrew from his first match in the Mexican Open. After suffering an injury pre-match at Acapulco, Nadal said that he needed more time to recover. He will take a month off, missing at least two major tournaments. Apparently, the injury is in the same area as a previous injury that Nadal picked up at the Australian Open last year.

“The injury I suffered in Acapulco before starting the tournament is the same area as the one suffered in Melbourne,” said Nadal.

Nadal was leading by two sets to one against Cilic at the Australian Open in Melbourne. At the end of the third set, he fist-pumped the air and cried out in joy as he took the lead. Yet Nadal struggled to keep pace in the fourth set and went down 4-1 before calling a medical timeout and receiving treatment on the court. Defeated, Nadal retired in the final set, leaving the crowd wondering what had become of the then world number one.

The following day, Nadal’s team made an announcement that the tennis legend had a serious injury. An MRI scan showed a grade 1 strained iliopsoas, a muscle of the inner hip. Nadal missed the Davis Cup but was expected to make a triumphant return at the Mexican Open on February 24th. Though Nadal did make the trip to Mexico, he withdrew before his first match. Tennis may require the wits of poker, but it also requires a top physical form, and Rafael was not up to the job.

The Mexican Open was the 8th straight tournament that Rafael Nadal has pulled out. Last month, he lost out on his number one ranking to Roger Federer, who went ahead to win more matches and titles. Federer now sits ahead as the world number one, just 600 points ahead of Nadal. He will need to make the semifinals in the Indian Wells to maintain his lead.

Due to the hip injury at the Mexican Open, which seems related to his original injury at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal will also miss the Indian Wells, which is now in progress, as well as the Miami Open. Both are hard-court Masters 1000 events, the highest tier below Grand Slams.

“I won’t be able to play in Miami or Indian Wells as I need to recover,” said the world number two.

Last year, Nadal lost out to Roger Federer in the fourth round at Indian Wells, and again to Federer in the final of the Miami Open. As it stands, there will be no highly anticipated rematches at this year’s events. Federer has expressed disappointment that Nadal won’t make the tournaments.

“Rafael Nadal deserves this place, he had an amazing season. I am disappointed that he is injured and that he is not here for the tournament,” said Federer at the Indian Wells.

The pair has played each other 34 times since 2004. Nadal was the winner in 23 of those meetings, though Federer has more Grand Slam titles and now holds the number one spot, at least until Nadal comes back from injury.

The Indian Wells started on Monday, March 5th. Federer won his rain-delayed first round while Novak Djokovic took an unexpected early exit. The Miami Open, however, starts on March 19th.

Nadal’s injuries and problems are a growing concern for fans and tennis experts. He suffered the same injury at the Mexican Open as he did at the Australian Open. Last time, Nadal received anti-inflammatory treatment and physiotherapy for the injury, and so it is assumed he will be undergoing similar treatment this time alongside a game or two of poker from what we hear.

Although much of Nadal’s focus will be on recovery right now, he is likely upset that the injury has slowed down his season already. After such a solid performance last year, Nadal would have wanted to carry on his form early this year. Aside from rest and physiotherapy, Nadal is known to be an avid poker player and has previously enjoyed games of poker at the Indian Wells as well as the usual tennis tournaments. He is also a known Texas Hold ‘Em player who is said to have an aggressive style.

Although no confirmation has been made as to when Rafael Nadal will be back in action, he is now preparing for the clay-court season, which begins in April. The Monte-Carlo Masters on April 14th may be the first tournament that we see Rafael back in action. Usually, this is the first date on his calendar for clay matches.

Nadal has also confirmed that he will be playing at the Queens pre-Wimbledon tournament, which he won 10 years ago in 2008 — one of Nadal’s best years to date, as he also won Wimbledon as well as the French Open. Unfortunately, the chances of seeing Nadal at the Miami Open are about as slim as the world ending via a solar flare, which according to the 888 Poker infographic is pretty much impossible.

As Rafael Nadal’s career progresses, the 31-year old, who has an impressive 16 Grand Slam titles to his name, may have to pick his tournaments more carefully and play fewer games to stay strong and win the competitions that he does play in. It’s an approach taken by rival Roger Federer, who now enjoys a lighter season. Nadal suffered a minor wrist injury in 2016, but this hip injury appears to be a recurring concern.

Many tennis stars of Nadal’s generation are starting to show signs of strain. Thirty-year-old Andy Murray had hip surgery earlier in the year, Djokovic has been affected by recent injuries and Stan Wawrinka will also miss the Indian Wells and Miami Open. Still, Nadal is one of the top tennis players in the world. Only last year, he won the French Open without losing a set! He should be able to take the top spot again when he gets back into his stride. Either that or he’ll have to find an alternative career as a poker player! I wonder if he’s any good at Omaha Hi-Lo.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal