Rafael Nadal once again failed to win his first ATP World title of the year, but the King of Clay has gained a boost in his confidence heading into the Miami Open.
Despite losing against world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinal round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Nadal is still optimistic about his bid to regain his old form. The 29-year-old Mallorcan, after losing in straight sets (7-6(5) 6-2), said playing Djokovic means he is constantly advancing deep enough into tournaments, which means positive news for Nadal.
“If I play against him it's because I am in semi-finals and finals, so that's very positive news,” Nadal said, reports the ATP’s official website. “Even if I lose, [it's] great news.”
Nadal joins DJokovic, Andy Murray and a returning Roger Federer on Mar. 23 at the Miami Open in Florida, where the 14-time Grand Slam winner bids for his first title at the tournament. After a decent showing in Indian Wells, Nadal could have another solid outing at the next ATP 1000 Masters event and could possibly face top ranked opponents if he could keep his composure.
However, WTA’s former world No. 1 Chris Evert is not convinced the Spaniard will frequently have trips to semifinal and final rounds of big tournaments, with inconsistency being Nadal’s story so far this season.
"It's a long road back,” Evert said, reports ESPN. "He's unlike any other player. He trained differently, and maybe that has something to do with his struggles now. It doesn't look like he will get to the semis and finals of big tournaments as regularly as the other top guys."
Considering how Nadal fared in recent tournaments, it could really be hard to see Nadal competing in the later rounds of tournaments, especially with Djokovic and Federer around. But if Nadal is able to carry his semi-remarkable run from the Californian desert to South Beach, fans could expect the world No. 5 to a semifinals or finals appearance at the Miami Open.