‘Dangerous’ – Rafael Nadal explains why he decided to withdraw from the Miami Open ahead of French Open

Rafael Nadal says he is skipping the Miami Open at the end of the month because quickly transitioning from hard courts to clay could prove too “dangerous”.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion has won three tournaments already in 2022 – the Melbourne Summer Set, Australian Open and the Mexican Open – and has a 100 per cent win record this year.

The 35-year-old has reached the last-16 of Indian Wells and will play USA’s Reilly Opelka on Wednesday, but that will spell the end of his time on the hard courts for now.

Nadal had to end his 2021 season early due to tendonitis in both knees and a lingering left foot injury.

But he says he cannot risk further damage by playing in another Masters tournament on a hard surface before the Monte-Carlo Masters commences on April 4.

“For my body, it is not good to have quick transitions from different surfaces,” he told reporters.

“Clay to hard – well, hard to clay. If I play Miami, I will not have time to rest and no time to make a swift transition to the clay.

“I need to push since the beginning very hard, so that’s dangerous for my foot, for my knees.

“I need to make that transition step by step. I cannot make drastic changes like I did in the past, so that’s why I decided to stop after here and to have, like, three weeks before the clay court season start for me.”

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Nadal is a five-time finalist at the Miami tournament, but has not played at the event since 2017.

Miami Open tournament director James Blake said: “Rafa will certainly be missed. He has so many fans here in South Florida, and we hope to see him back in Miami next year.”

Djokovic and Federer will also be absent from the Masters 1000 tournament which will see 65 of the top 75 ranked men taking part.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has been granted a wild card, along with Nick Kyrgios, Jack Draper, Jordan Thompson and Juncheng Shang.

Highlights: Nadal overcomes Evans to advance to Indian Wells round of 16

“It’s important victory against a tricky opponent,” he said. “It’s not an easy opponent to play. He plays tactically very well, using very well his slice, then playing aggressive, changing rhythms on the points.

“A positive win for me. Happy to save that tough moment in the first set, then the things went a little bit better later.”

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