Many tennis fans will have been disappointed by the news Rafael Nadal would not be able to feature in the 2021 Miami Open.
However, the time off the court in Florida could play into the Spaniard’s hands when the French Open rolls around in May.
Injury Ends Miami Trip
Nadal confirmed it was a back injury that has forced the 20-time Grand Slam winner to sit out the Masters 1000 event. The 34-year-old, who is evens in the online sports betting to win the 2021 French Open, has been struggling with a back problem since before the Australian Open earlier this year.
To break the news, Nadal took to Twitter to say, “I need to fully recover and get ready for the clay court season in Europe”. As the veteran approaches the end of his playing career, he only has so many Grand Slam events left. Injuries are never ideal, and at the latter stages of a career they do take longer to recover from. But while those punters hoping to see Nadal in action in Miami will have been disappointed, there are bigger prizes on the horizon.
Edging Ahead of Federer
When it comes to those all-important Grand Slam titles, Nadal and old rival Roger Federer are sitting pretty at the top of the pile on 20 major successes each. With Nadal five years younger than the Swiss legend, time is certainly on the Mallorcan’s side. Still, there is no chance of Nadal getting complacent, and the 13-time French Open winner knows Roland Garros provides the best opportunity to secure a 21st Grand Slam title.
Even at the age of 39, Federer will have his own ambitions to go clear at the top of the title standings. Federer has made it very clear he is being extremely selective when it comes to the tournaments he now features in. There would be no shame in Nadal going down a similar path, and put himself in the best possible position to add to his Grand Slam tally in the years to come.
Djokovic Piling on Pressure
One man looking to put the pressure on Nadal and Federer is Novak Djokovic, who made a flying start to 2021 with victory in the Australian Open. That success Down Under in Melbourne was Djokovic’s 18 Grand Slam title, and the Serbian will be confident of adding to that tally this year with the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open still to come.
Although Nadal might well have been frustrated with withdrawing from the Miami Open, it could reap some rewards in the long run. He will be eager to stay match fit and sharp, but also keeping fresh for the rigors of Roland Garros will be key. Striking this balance will be Nadal’s goal over the coming months, as the ‘King of Clay’ looks to retain his throne at Roland Garros this summer.