Andy Murray's former coach Mark Petchey believes that Rafael Nadal has made a "smart decision" by pulling out of Indian Wells and Miami following a recurrence of his hip injury, which will give him enough time to recover for the clay season, where he was imperious last year.
The Spaniard ended a three-year drought in Grand Slams with victory at Roland Garros in 2017, underlining his ability on the surface with titles at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before he registered a record 10th French Open win. The Spaniard closed the year with six titles and took his tally of slams to 16 by winning the US Open to complete a fascinating year for the 31-year-old.
Nadal ended 2017 as the number one ranked player in the world, beating Roger Federer in the process. However, the Swiss ace got back on top by winning the Rotterdam Open, having closed the gap with Nadal to only 155 points after winning the Australian Open for the sixth time in his career.
The Spaniard's travails with his fitness began near the end of last year when he had to pull out of the Paris Masters and the ATP World Tour with a knee injury. The setbacks meant that he did not have enough practice before the Australian Open, which exacerbated his injury issues.
Therefore, given his troubles in the recent past, Petchey believes that missing the American hardcourt scene will do the Spaniard a world of good, so that he can get some much needed rest before the clay turn of the season, when he is at his best.
"When you look at Rafa's numbers on clay last year in terms of how he was hitting the ball, speed and placement - it was his best clay court season ever. It was certainly his best Roland Garros ever," Petchey told Sky Sports.
"I am sure that some of the reason for not playing both Indian Wells and Miami is to give him the best chance possible of staying fit and healthy.
"Clay is obviously a lot softer and kinder on his body than other surfaces. He is just going to give himself the best shot at the next major of the year. All in all a very smart decision and totally understandable but he is obviously a big loss for both tournaments."