Rafael Nadal Must Skip Indian Wells to Return to Championship Form

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2013

June 28, 2012; London, ENGLAND; Rafael Nadal (ESP) reacts during his match against Lukas Rosol (CZE) on day four of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.  Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Former No. 1 tennis player Rafael Nadal is considering skipping next week's tournament at Indian Wells, and doing so would be a great decision on his part. Speaking to Fox News Latino, Nadal did not rule out the possibility of sitting out matches on hard courts.

"My intention is to go to Indian Wells," Nadal said after reaching the second round of the Mexican Open late Tuesday. 

"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."

As much as tennis fans and those of the tournament at Indian Wells would love to see Nadal play there next week, it would be much better for him to sit out. Not only are hard courts out of his comfort zone, but it's not worth re-injuring his knees to play in a tournament that's pretty insignificant compared to the majors, including the French Open and Wimbledon.

At 26 years old, Nadal suffers from chronic knee tendinitis and last year discovered that he had a partially torn left patella tendon. This type of injury is no joke, so it would be much smarter of Nadal to pick and choose his tournaments rather than try to compete whenever possible as the clay season approaches.

As a result, Nadal now has two choices. He can either go to Indian Wells next week and risk re-injuring himself (no matter how unlikely it may seem), or he can play it conservatively and spend the next week resting and rehabbing.

This is definitely a hard decision for Nadal, as he won at Indian Wells in 2007 and 2009, but it's all about returning to championship form. As a professional athlete, fatigue is sure to set in for him at some point, and does he really want to risk that happening and put on a poor show at the French Open, his signature tournament?

Seeing as how Nadal has won at Roland Garros seven times, and that pride has to play at least some role, something tells me he will make the right decision and sit next week's tournament out.

This will set the stage for him to make a triumphant return to the Grand Slam scene after pulling out of the Australian Open due to a stomach virus, giving the fans plenty to cheer about as his fully healthy self is back in top form and ready to dominate the sport again.