Rafael Nadal says he body is "asking him to rest." For once, he's granting the request.
The world No. 3 withdrew Monday from the Barcelona Open, presumably to keep his injured knees fresh in the lead-up to next month's French Open. Nadal's desire to play the rigorous clay court schedule before Roland Garros has often been cited as a possible contributor to his recent injuries.
It had to be an especially tough decision for Rafa, seeing as how Barcelona is his hometown tournament and that he's the five-time defending champion, but it's a logical one. His balky knees, attacking style of play and tendency to play deep into every clay tournament are recipes for Paris disaster. If winning Grand Slams is the goal (and it is), then resting is the only move to make. Plus, it gives Rafa a chance to rail against the clay court schedule he so despises.
"I have said on many occasions that the tennis calendar, specifically the clay court season, is badly structured and my not being able to compete in Barcelona is a consequence of that," Nadal said in a statement.
He had been scheduled to play in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Madrid all prior to the French, which begins on May 23.
On Sunday, Nadal became the first man in the Open era ever to win five straight tournaments when he defeated countryman Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1 in the finals of the Monte Carlo Masters. Nadal had been hoping to make it back-to-back six-peats in Barcelona.