Rafael Nadal does not see himself missing Grand Slams on purpose, unlike Roger Federer
What's the story?
On Wednesday, after skimming past Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia in the second round of Monte Carlo Masters, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal conceded that he does not see himself follow into arch-rival Roger Federer's footsteps and purposely miss whole sections of the tennis calendar.
“Of course, during the years, when you get older, you need to adjust a little bit more the efforts and the calendar,” the 16-time Grand Slam champion told reporters. “But for me, it’s difficult to say I am not going to play, for example, grass, or I’m not going to play hard,” he added.
In case you didn't know...
Over the last 15 months or so, Federer has reshaped tennis history and his and Nadal's 14-year-old rivalry as we knew it. Of his four meetings with Nadal, he won four, albeit all on hard court. However, the Swiss Maestro has strategically avoided his greatest adversary on clay, having missed the entire clay court season last year. He had given the French Open a miss in 2016 as well.
This year, also, after his loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis in Miami, Federer announced that for the second straight year he’ll skip the clay season.
The heart of the matter
A couple of days back, speaking after his first-round win in Monte Carlo, Nadal had taken a sly dig at Federer. Today, after his 6-1, 6-3 win over Bedene, Nadal was asked if he would ever skip tournaments in an attempt to lengthen his career like Federer.
The Spanish star replied, "There are tournaments that I can’t imagine missing on purpose...because they are the tournaments that I love to play. So I don’t see myself missing Monte Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon on purpose, or the US Open, or Australian, or Rome. These kinds of events I don’t see (myself) missing.”
He further added that though it is not his plan to miss certain tournaments, he can't use the term 'never'. When one gets older, maybe one needs to adjust a little bit more according to the calendar, but for Nadal, it is difficult to say he is not going to play.
Federer is expected to be back only for the grass season. Until then, Nadal will have the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and a host of other youngsters to compete against.
While Nadal's comments are his own personal views, it is absolutely justified if a player wants to skip a particular season just to be ready for a bigger challenge. And for someone like Federer, it is unimaginable to even dream of what he is doing at his age. If he can continue to awe the fans after taking a month or two off, surely, no one will complain.