“I can’t lie to myself”: Rafael Nadal must withdraw from Indian Wells | tennis

Rafael Nadal says he has made the “difficult” decision to withdraw from Indian Wells as he is not yet “ready to play at the highest level”.

The 22-time Grand Slam singles champion has been forced to cancel the tour since suffering a muscle injury in Brisbane in January. He should celebrate his return on Friday with a first-round game in Indian Wells against Canadian Milos Raonic. However, in a post on social media, the 37-year-old said he was not ready to compete yet.

“It is with great sadness that I have to withdraw from this great tournament in Indian Wells,” he said. “Everyone knows how much I love this place and how much I love playing here. That’s also one of the reasons why I came to the desert very early to practice and prepare.

“I’ve been working hard and training and you all know I did a test this weekend, but I’m not ready to play at the highest level in such an important event. It’s not an easy decision, it’s actually a difficult decision, but I can’t lie to myself and the thousands of fans. I will miss you all and am sure the tournament will be a great success.”

Nadal was replaced by India’s world number 101 Sumit Nagal in the draw. The Spaniard made his comeback at the Brisbane International in January after being sidelined for a year with a long-term hip problem. The Spaniard suffered a torn muscle near his hip in his quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson, but scans revealed it was not in the same location.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray put in a fine performance, beating David Goffin in straight sets and moving into the second round in Indian Wells. Murray had won his last seven meetings with the Belgian but went into this clash in poor form and announced last week that he was likely to end his successful tennis career this summer. The three-time Grand Slam champion looked rejuvenated after his announcement in Dubai and produced one of his best performances of the year to claim a routine 6-3 6-2 victory that sets up a last-64 clash with Andrey Rublev.

Andy Murray tries to play a forehand against David Goffin. Photo: Frey/TPN/Getty Images

In a turbulent first set, Murray had to be patient after a break point was saved in Goffin’s first service game before striking at 4-3. Murray got his first break of the match in the eighth game, sending two aces to seal a 34-minute opener in which he won the final 10 points.

The momentum was with the Brit and a double fault from Goffin gave him an early advantage in the second set. The world number 61 continued to ask questions about Goffin’s serve and a second break brought him to the brink of victory, which was sealed with an ace.

Compatriot Jack Draper suffered disappointment when he lost in three sets to Chris O’Connell.

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