We might as well just hand Rafael Nadal a record-extending eighth French Open championship right now.
All the evidence needed to make this claim can be found in the fact that Nadal is going to play on the hard courts at the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open, which the Associated Press (via the Wall Street Journal) tells us he is preparing to do.
His actual participation, or ensuing performance, in this event is not the key. This tournament is going to do little to help Nadal fine tune his game for the clay courts of the French Open. Depending on how long he lasts and how his matches go, it will surely help him bolster his conditioning, but he could make similar gains with good training.
The key here is simply that he has deemed himself fit enough to play, which is a pleasant surprise. It was just last week that the Madrid sports daily Marca via The Times of India, reported Nadal was going to skip both the Indian Wells and the following week's Miami (another hard-court venue) events.
Nadal quickly let the press know that he had not yet made that decision, but he also wasn't ready to say he would be able to play.
Given all of this, if Nadal had any reservations about the health of his knee, it made sense to skip Indian Wells.
After all, thus far Nadal's comeback bid has been limited to the softer clay courts, and there was just no need to increase his chances for a setback by playing on a hard court.
As evidenced by his initial hesitance to commit to this event, Nadal would not be participating if he had any questions that his knee was up to the challenge.
With his dominance in capturing the Mexican Open, Nadal had plenty of evidence that his knee was holding up well. So well, that he is going to play in a hard-court event despite the next major coming on clay.
This is terrible news for every other player hoping to capture this year's French Open.
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