Although men's tennis superstar Rafael Nadal returned to action in February, he's clearly not 100 percent. According to the Madrid sports daily Marca via The Times of India, Nadal will skip both of March's ATP World Tour Masters Series tournaments in the United States.
The two events in Miami and Indian Wells are both played on hard courts.
Nadal, 26, returned on Feb. 5 from a seven-month hiatus in which he rested his injured left knee. And although he's played in a pair of clay-court tournaments over the past month (including a victory at the 2013 ATP Brasil Open), he said he's still battling significant pain (via The Times of India):
It's better and I've been able to compete but it's still bothering me. It's better on some days and worse on others, which isn't ideal for someone like me, because my idea of competing is based on giving it all at all times.
Nadal's decision to skip March's ATP tournaments is...
An 11-time Grand Slam champion, Nadal looks to be focused on the upcoming French Open at Roland Garros. He's won there a record seven times, all since 2005, and is no doubt focusing on the big picture.
Players of Nadal's status are ultimately judged on majors, and the season's second Slam presents him with a solid opportunity to add another to his resume.
This news, although not surprising given Nadal's recent physical struggles, must come as a huge disappointment to tennis fans who were hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the all-time greats in Indian Wells and Miami.
Nadal has never won at the Miami Masters, finishing as runner-up three times since 2005. He has won at Indian Wells twice in the past, including titles in 2007 and 2009.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.