Rafael Nadal joins Roger Federer on Miami Open exit list

The five-time Miami Open finalist Rafael Nadal will not seek the first Florida title from March 24, withdrawing from the season’s first Masters 1000 tournament. Nadal has been dealing with a back injury since the pre-season quarantine in Adelaide in January, playing only five Australian Open matches this year and skipping Rotterdam and both Dubai and Acapulco. Rafa couldn’t recover in time for Miami, although he did practice on hard recently, needing more time on the practice court ahead of the clay swing, where he wants to play his best tennis. Despite back issues, Rafa reached the Australian Open quarter-final without losing a set and forged two sets to love advantage against Stefanos Tsitsipas before falling in five sets, experiencing one of his career’s toughest losses. Miami is one of the most significant titles that Nadal hasn’t won, losing five finals between 2005-2017.

He made a debut in Florida in 2004 at 17, stunning world no. 1 Roger Federer in straight sets and battling against the same rival in the title match a year later. Rafa had everything in his hands before Roger made an incredible turnaround to celebrate in five sets and keep the youngster empty-handed. Nadal was in another final three years later, falling to Nikolay Davydenko and waiting for a few more years for other chances. They came in 2011 and 2014 when Novak Djokovic proved to be too strong for the Spaniard, who made his last Miami appearance so far in 2017.

Rafael Nadal will not compete in Miami this year.

He reached the fifth final, with Roger Federer standing across the net and scoring a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 35 minutes. It was the third Miami crown for the Swiss and the first since 2006, reducing his deficit to 23-14 in head-to-head matches against Rafa and beating the Spaniard four times in a row for the first time! Roger was in a significant advantage after winning the opening set, gathering momentum ahead of set number two, where he made the difference with a break t 4-4.

“I’m sad to announce that I won’t be playing in Miami, a city that I love. I need to fully recover and get ready for the clay-court season in Europe. Special message to my fans in the US and in particular to the great Spanish-speaking community in Florida who always give me a great support!” Rafael Nadal said.

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