Rafael Nadal may pull out of next week’s Indian Wells Masters in California to spare his fragile knees from the hard courts.
Nadal said he loves the tournament he won in 2007 and 2009 but he has to think about protecting his knees and stay healthy for the European clay-court season which climaxes with the French Open, which he has won seven times.
He didn’t say whether he would also compete in the hard-court Key Biscayne Masters, where he’s reached the final three times, and which follows Indian Wells. “My intention is to go to Indian Wells,” Nadal said 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 and has suggested 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 has so far restricted his comeback, after more than seven months ou, to events on softer clay. This month, he reached the final in Chile and won in Brazil.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer dismissed Spain’s Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4 in the Dubai Championships to book a quarter-final meeting with Nikolay Davydenko.
The 17-times grand slam champion has an 18-2 winning record against the Russian veteran and could be forgiven for already eyeing a potential showdown with world No 1 Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s final.
Earlier, world No 7 Juan Martin Del Potro had pounded Somdev Devvarman 6-4, 6-4. Third seed Tomas Berdych, 27, is also through to the last eight, beating Germany’s Tobias Kamke 7-5, 6-1 under the desert sun. The Czech toiled more than the scoreline suggests, squandering five set points in the first set against the world No 90 and saving 12 of 14 break points.
At the Malaysian Open, former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki suffered one of her worst career defeats when she lost to 186th-ranked Chinese qualifier Qiang Wang.
The Dane, top seed at the event in Kuala Lumpur, cruised through the opening set of her first-round clash and had a match point in the second before going down 2-6, 7-6, 6-1.