At this point of his career, Rafael Nadal should be focused entirely on getting ready to perform at majors, and that makes next week's Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open—an event he has won twice—one he should skip.
My guess is that Nadal will wind up taking a pass on this event, but he certainly isn't ready to commit to that notion. Fox News Latino shares this quote from Nadal, which he offered up on Tuesday following a first-round victory in the Mexican Open:
My intention is to go to Indian Wells. This is the truth because I love this tournament and the priority is to play. But if I don't feel comfortable playing and have decided 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.
This came as a response to a report in the Madrid sports daily Marca via The Times of India, saying Nadal would skip both the Indian Wells and the following week's Miami (another hard-court venue) events.
I'm certainly willing to take Nadal at his word on this, but he shouldn't be waiting to see if he is going to play. He should just decide to skip these events now.
While the 11-time Grand Slam champion is just 26, his body is roughly 142. Nadal has played a ton of matches in his 26 years, and he has played them all out.
This has taken a toll on various parts of his body, most detrimentally to his knee. Nadal returned on Feb. 5 from his most recent knee woes, which caused him to miss seven months of tournament tennis.
And that knee is still not 100 percent. Here is another quote by Nadal from Fox News Latino:
Even when the knee is perfect, I had some days better than others. Right now I have had three days in which the knee has felt fine and that makes me happy, that we're going in the right direction.
Will Nadal win the 2013 French Open?
With Nadal's knee still recovering, he has much more to lose than gain at these upcoming hard-court tournaments.
As compared to the softer clay courts, playing on hard courts now only increases the chances of injury. It also does nothing to help him tune-up for the next major, which happens to be on clay.
The French Open looms three months away. If Nadal were to suffer a setback now, it would likely derail all of his preparation for his favorite major.
At this point of his career, Rafael Nadal needs to only focus on preparing for the majors, and those plans don't need to include minor hard-court tournaments.