Published On: Thu, Mar 28th, 2019

Rafael Nadal: UNUSUAL claim made about Spaniard over Miami Open | Tennis | Sport

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The Spaniard is absent from the tournament at present, with Roger Federer the highest-ranked player remaining after Novak Djokovic’s shock fourth-round exit.

Nadal suffered a new flare-up of a long-standing knee inflammation issue in Indian Wells earlier in the month and will sit out until the clay-court season gets underway in mid-April.

The 32-year-old was hours away from taking on Federer in a much-anticipated first meeting between the two long-time rivals in nearly 18 months. 

But he explained in a press conference, in which he was visibly devastated, that the pain was too great for him to play.

That meant for a second successive season he missed the trip to Miami, having also been injured in 2018.

Despite holding more Masters 1000 titles than any other player on the ATP Tour, Nadal has never won in Florida.

His last trip to the event saw him lose his fifth final, going down to Federer in 2017’s championship match, having previously been thwarted by the Swiss icon as well as Nikolay Davydenko and Djokovic.

And Hantuchova – looking through the list of winners at the tournament – could not hide her surprise that 17-time Grand Slam champion Nadal has never been successful in Miami.

Djokovic and Federer, meanwhile, have picked up nine titles since the latter’s first in 2005 – while Andy Murray is also a two-time winner at the Masters event.

Former WTA star Hantuchova thought the playing conditions would however suit Nadal more.

She said on Amazon Prime’s Miami Open coverage: “I just want to point out something that I was not aware of, that Rafa Nadal has never won this tournament. 

“That’s very unusual. 

“Given the conditions that it is slow, bounces high and it is also windy. 

“That was a big surprise for me.”

Nadal has one more Masters 1000 success than Djokovic, with 33, and six more than Federer.

But he will be looking to extend his record on his favoured clay surface in the coming months, with three 1000s tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome coming up.

Nadal posted a video of himself on social media on Wednesday in practice and, encouragingly, moving without any problems at his tennis academy in Mallorca ahead of the Monte Carlo Masters, which begins April 15. 

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