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

Rafael Nadal says he will miss the Miami Open at the end of the month because the quick transition from hard courts to clay can be too “dangerous”.

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

The 35-year-old has reached the last 16 at Indian Wells and will play American Riley Opelka on Wednesday, but that will mark the end of his time on tough courts for now.

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Nadal had to end the 2021 season early due to tendinitis in both knees and an injury to the left foot.

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

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

“Mud to hard — well, it’s hard to play with mud. If I play Miami, I don’t have time to rest and I don’t have time to jump into clay.

“I need to push really hard from the start, and it’s dangerous on my feet and knees.

“I need to make this transition step by step. I can’t make drastic changes like I have done in the past, which is why I decided to stop after this place and wait, for example, three weeks before the clay court season begins for me.”

Nadal ‘I couldn’t be happier’ with his second title of the year

Nadal has reached the final five times in Miami, but he has not played in the event since 2017.

Miami Open director James Blake said: “Rafa will definitely be missed. He has a lot of fans here in South Florida, and we hope to see him again in Miami next year.”

Djokovic and Federer will also miss the Masters 1000, which will see 65 of the top 75 players in the rankings participate.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray had a wild card, along with Nick Kyrgios, Jack Draper, Jordan Thompson and Juncheng Chang.

HIGHLIGHTS: Nadal beats Evans to advance to the Round of 16 at Indian Wells

Speaking after winning straight sets over Britain’s Dan Evans in the Round of 32, Nadal was delighted with his 400th Masters win.

“It is an important victory over a deceitful opponent,” he said. “It’s not easy to play with the opponent. He plays well tactically, using his chip very well, and then he plays aggressively, changing the rhythms of the points.

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

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