2/19/13 3:28 PM | Johan Lindahl
A huge health question mark hangs over Rafael Nadal's participation on next month's hardcourt circuit in the US, with the fragile Spaniard's presence at Indian Wells and Miami far from a sure thing.
Fifth-ranked Nadal, who missed more than seven months of play due to lingering knee problems, has taken baby steps on clay, competing this month in minor-league ATP 250 cupcake clay events in South America.
Nadal has managed to regain some confidence by winning at the weekend in Sao Paulo against a modest field. He has also reportedly told organizers of a multi-million-dollar payday in New York that he will be there on their hard court on March 3 for an exhibition.
But Nadal himself freely admits that he's far from pleased with the state of his knees and has his doubts about testing them on the unforgiving cement of North America.
"I think of Acapulco (his next clay event) and nothing else," Nadal said in Brazil, where he never missed a chance to report on the continuing state of his knee. "We are not in a position to think weeks ahead. We'll go day by day, week by week.
"Let's see how my knee responds in Acapulco, we will discuss when we finish all this clay court (swing) what has happened during these three tournaments and what I thought about it."
He added ominously: "Then we will see if we are ready to play in Indian Wells or not. It is not a matter of better rivals or surface, is a matter of how my knee is progressing. I have no problem playing against better opponents because I accept losing or winning.
"I understand that it’s been a long time since I competed at the highest level. I have had only two weeks getting rhythm, but I need time to continue to improve and become competitive."
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