Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal pulled out of Mexican Open in Acapulco ahead of his first round match on February 28.Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal was set for a return at the ongoing 2018 Mexican Open in Acapulco, but the Spaniard was forced to withdraw from the tournament hours ahead of his first-round match on February 28 due to a recurrence of a hip injury he suffered during the 2018 Australian Open.

The 31-year-old is still unsure about the extent of the recent injury. He is unlikely to play the upcoming Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March, reports Marca.

According to the Spanish newspaper, Nadal is close to returning to his homeland from Mexico and focusing on getting ready for his clay-court campaign, which begins at Monte Carlo Masters on April 15. The idea is to avoid another relapse of the injury in what will be a busy season on the dirt for the tennis star. 

The Spanish ace said he tried his best to participate in Acapulco but the doctors told him it was "impossible to play".

Nadal to defend 4,680 points on clay!

Rafael Nadal, French Open 2017, Roland Garros 2017, Rafael Nadal French Open champion, tennis news, Stan Wawrinka
Rafael Nadal won his 10th French Open title last year.Julian Finney/Getty Images.

Nadal has not been involved in competitive action ever since retiring in the final set of his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic with the hip injury in January.

He lost his top spot in the ATP rankings to arch-rival Roger Federer, who has already won two titles — Australian Open and Rotterdam Open — in this calendar year.

The World No 2, who is already trailing Federer by 345 points, will drop a further 300 points as he had reached the final in Acapulco last year. Notably, the 16-time Grand Slam champion lost in the pre-quarters at Indian Wells and in the final at Miami last year, suffering defeats to the Swiss great on both occasions.

Nadal's focus, though, should be on the clay-court season, considering the tremendous success he enjoyed on the surface in 2017.

The 31-year-old won three back-to-back titles at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before he clinched a historic 10th title at French Open. He will be defending a total of 4,680 points on clay this season.

Federer to return at Indian Wells Masters

Meanwhile, Federer, who won the 2017 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year and Comeback of the Year awards in Monaco earlier this week, is all set to defend his Indian Wells and Miami titles next month.

The 36-year-old last year won a record-breaking third Sunshine Double right after his Australian Open victory.

Federer has been carefully planning his stops on the tour. For example, he chose to skip the ongoing Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and opted for some family time.