Tennis legend and current world number one Rafael Nadal has recently joked that his rival Roger Federer is 'avoiding' him on a clay surface.
This comes after Federer announced that he would be skipping the clay season for the second year running.
Nadal, who built his legacy and career off the clay court, boasts an impressive 13-2 record against his Swiss counterpart on the clay surface.
Despite this fact, Federer recently revealed he relished the prospect of playing Nadal on clay, saying: "I still think he is the best player on clay and that he will always be the best player in history on clay, but I would love to play against Rafa on the ground, at the best of five sets."
This had tennis fans licking their lips, but they were soon left disappointed when news broke Federer would again be delaying his return till the summer.
Nadal seemed to slyly hit back at Federer's words, saying: "He said he'd love to play me again in a best-of-five on clay, so I thought he'd play Roland Garros, and two days later he said he's not playing on clay.
"Maybe a little contradictory," the Spaniard added with a cheeky grin planted on his face.
Many are sure to question Roger's decision, but last year it seemed to pay off for the Swiss, as he returned from a break to claim the Halle Open title, as well as winning the prestigious Wimbledon in June.
Federer knows himself that he is not getting any younger, and at this stage of his career he may think that he may need to take whatever sacrifice, no matter how big or small, in order to get the most out of his career.
However, there could be other reasons for this decision, one being injury and lack of motivation on Federer's part.
The Swiss spoke to The Telegraph after his Miami Open second round defeat to Thanis Kokkinasis, and claimed: “I wasn't feeling good, With my movement, things weren't absolutely working.
"I feel like every time I had chances, something bad happened: wrong decision-making by me, good decision-making by him.
"I don’t know why I could never get to any level that I was happy with today.”
This shock defeat will undoubtedly knock Federer's morale, along with the fact the defeat meant he had to hand over his No.1 ranking to his rival Nadal.
The pair, who are both regarded as two of tennis' biggest legends, share a competitive, but friendly, rivalry, but Federer is sure to be gutted at losing his status as the world number one.
Despite the exclusion of Federer, and the prospect of a cracking clash between the two, Nadal will be focused on the upcoming clay season and staying at the top of the world rankings, as he prepares to face the winner of Aljaz Bedene or Mirza Basic in the Monte-Carlo Masters on Wednesday, with the two players meeting on Monday in their first-round clash.
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