Cape Town – Television pundit and former Italian pro Filippo Volandri has defended Rafael Nadal after his controversial withdrawal at Indian Wells, saying the Spaniard was in no shape to play.
The world No 2 was set to resume his rivalry with Roger Federer in the semi-finals, but pulled out just two hours before, citing a knee injury.
It led to criticism from some quarters, especially given Nadal’s recent poor record of completing tournaments, but Volandri insists he made the right call.
"His injury against Khachanov (in the quarter-final) looked very bad and Rafa was barely moving," said Volandri, who reached a career-high world number 25 in his playing days.
"Although the last two games and the tie-breaks had left some hope.
"But he usually warms up for 40 or 50 minutes prior to a match, while this time he did 20-25 minutes and he knows his body, so he wants to play only if he is at 100 percent.
"He doesn't want to take risks. He has been dealing with a knee injury for 15 years, I know what it means and on hard it's even worse. Unfortunately, we missed him."