Game Game

Nadal can’t fault Federer for skipping clay season

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Rafael Nadal’s record on clay courts this year is 15-0 after his victory at the Madrid Masters on May 14, 2017 © AFP / OSCAR DEL POZO

ROME, Italy, May 16 – Rafael Nadal believes the decision by Roger Federer to skip Roland Garros and the clay season is logical as the Sp

val for skipping the 2017 spring clay season to concentrate on Wimbledon and the grass-court run-up.

Federer owns an Australian Open title and Masters 1000 honours in Indian Wells and Miami this season since coming back from a six-month injury lay-off.

“Everybody does what feels better for them,” Nadal, who starts in the Foro Italico second round against Nicolas Almagro, said.

“If he doesn’t play one tournament before the French (Open), it’s normal that he finally skip the French, no?”

Nadal suggested that the decision was made well ahead of its announcement and would have been taken as a strategy move by the 35-year-old’s coaching team.

“Probably he had that decision before. Probably he didn’t want to announce before,” speculated Nadal, who has won three clay titles in three events competed in this season.

“But thinking in a logical way, it would be strange if you don’t play on clay in one event and then you start on the biggest one, playing best of five.”

– ‘Very emotional’ –

Rafael Nadal (left) congratulates Roger Federer after the Swiss veteran won their men’s singles final at the Australian Open on January 29 © AFP/File / PAUL CROCK

As for his own game, the Spaniard could not be happier as he keeps the chance of a record 10th Paris title next month in the back of his mind after winning Monte Carlo and Barcelona ten each and adding another last weekend in Madrid.

“I already won three tournaments on clay, so I am playing well. I am very happy about the beginning of the season,” said the 14-time Grand Slam winner.

“Not only on clay. On every surface. I think I am playing great events in all the surfaces since the beginning of the year.”

“Very emotional events everywhere, because in all of the events I’m playing on clay, I had a lot of success in my career, so I’m trying to enjoy every day, the fact I am playing again in these events.”

Nadal added: “It’s important for me that the clay court season started very, very well. It’s very important part of the season for me.”

With this week a new challenge, seven-time Rome champion Nadal is not dwelling on past successes.

“Here I am in Rome, I’m here to keep trying my best in an event that I love so much. I had some unbelievable memories in this court.

“A lot of important matches in my career I played here. So I’m just trying to be ready for that.

“I am happy to be here again, happy the way I am playing, and let’s see what happens tomorrow.

“I want to be high in the ranking, because if I am high in the ranking means I am playing well. That’s all. I said before the season that I’m not gonna to try to be number one again.

“If it happens because I am playing so well, great. But I am not going to do a calendar to try to be number one.

“What worries me is trying to be healthy, try to be competitive, and the most important thing is be happy.”

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