FORMER world No1 Rafael Nadal admits doctors have ordered him to rest or jeopardise his assault on the clay court season after continuing his trailblazing comeback at Indian Wells on Sunday.
The Spaniard claimed his third title in four tournaments, since a seven-month absence due to career-threatening knee problems, by beating former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the BNP Paribas Open.
It was Nadal’s first hard-court tournament for a year, having made his comeback on the South American clay-court circuit last month, and his first win on the surface since October 2010.
But he is forgoing the chance of a fourth successive title by missing the prestigious Sony Open in Miami, which starts this week, in order to protect his knee as he plans his bid for an eighth French Open.
“The doctors recommend me to be back home for a few weeks, rest a little bit and keep practising the right way,” said the world No4.
“I need more power in the left leg quadriceps, so I need to keep working hard. The competition is hard for the body, so after four fantastic weeks I can’t go to Miami. I need to prepare and rest for the next one.”
Nadal began his comeback last month by reaching the final in Chile, before successive victories in Brazil, Mexico and Indian Wells.
The 26-year-old’s defeat of Del Potro followed a quarter-final win over fellow former world No1 Roger Federer, and came after the Argentinian had himself eliminated Britain’s Andy Murray and ranking leader Novak Djokovic.
“It’s probably one of the most emotional victories of my career,” Nadal added, of claiming a record 22nd Masters series title.
“The support since I came back has been huge. It’s an unforgettable week for me and an unforgettable tournament.”
Murray, meanwhile, has been handed a tricky draw in Miami. The Scot knows Key Biscayne well, having trained at the venue regularly, but faces potential clashes with three of the ATP Tour’s hottest young talents.
After a first-round bye, Murray could meet Australian Bernard Tomic, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and then Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.