Mark Petchey believes Rafael Nadal has made the right decision to pull out of upcoming hard-court events as this will give him the best chance of enjoying more success on clay.
Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Australian Open quarter-final clash against Marin Cilic in the fifth set back in January due to a hip injury and he has not been in competitive action.
The 31-year-old, who was overtaken as world number one by Roger Federer this year, was expected to make his return at the Mexico Open in Acapulco but he was forced to withdraw before his opening match.
Spain’s number two recently revealed he would not be competing in the ATP events in Miami and Indian Wells as he continues his recovery from the troublesome hip problem.
There are huge doubts over Nadal’s fitness ahead of the clay-court season but Petchey, who is a former coach of Andy Murray’s, believes the decision to rest and recover over the next few weeks will be of huge benefit.
“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,” he told Sky Sports.
“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.”
Nadal won a record 10th French Open title last year and, as long as he is fully fit, is expected to enjoy another successful tournament at Roland-Garros this term.