"It's not my interest. It's his decision," Nadal was quoted in Spanish as saying, before adding with a smile, "He said a couple of days ago that he would love to play against me again on clay, best of five sets, so I thought he would play Roland Garros. Then in a few days he says he will not play. A little bit of a contradiction."
Nadal's comment was quoted in English using the word "controversial" to describe Federer's decision.
The comment appears to refer to Federer's statement during a press conference at Indian Wells, where the 20-time Grand Slam champion responded to a question about his confidence of winning on clay against Nadal, especially with his improved backhand. The shot has been lauded in Federer's recent meetings against Nadal on hardcourts. Last year, Federer went 4-0 against Nadal on the playing surface.
Court Report—Federer wins fifth consecutive match against Nadal:
"I haven't thought about it, to be honest. I'm not sure how much 'improved backhand' is going to help me against Rafa on clay," Federer said. "But, yeah, sure, I'd love to play Rafa on clay, best-of-five-set match, don't get me wrong. I'd like to see what would happen now. But there is absolutely no guarantee that I would have a better chance now than before."
Federer, who is 2-13 against Nadal on clay, also called the 10-time French Open champion "the guy to beat" on the surface, and said he ''may be the best ever, hands down" when it comes to clay.
In the same answer, Federer also insisted that the form of other top players like Nadal or Novak Djokovic would not affect his decision whether to play on clay in 2018.
"It really depends on what do I want to do," said Federer about his decision.
After his opening-round loss at the Miami Open to Thanasi Kokkinakis, Federer announced he would not be playing any clay-court events this season.
Nadal is a ten-time Monte Carlo champion and the top seed at this week's ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
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