Roger Federer says the only reason Rafael Nadal should have faced him at Indian Wells was if “it was the last match of his life”.
Nadal was forced to withdraw from the semi-final against Federer after a persistent knee injury flared up.
The Swiss superstar was afforded a rest the final, where he was beaten by Dominic Thiem.
Federer said Nadal had made the correct call in prioritising his health.
“The pain he must feel, especially when he played with it from the beginning of the match pretty much, I think that’s just not worth it taking any chances,” he said.
“If it maybe was the last match of his life, okay, you find a way somehow to just play through it.
“But this is not this match. He knows his knees too well that he needs to be smart about his decision-making here.”
After withdrawing from the Indian Wells semi-final, Nadal announced he would be taking a short break from tennis in order to recover.
The Spaniard is eyeing a return in mid-April, at the Monte Carlo Masters.
“I have this (injury) since a long time ago,” Nadal said.
“Some moments are better; some moments are worse. Always stays there.
“And always reminds me, limits me to practice less the way that I want and to play less than I want.
“What I’m gonna do is come back home and try to do a smooth transition to clay.
“Try to be 100 per cent for the first event. That’s gonna be Monte Carlo for me.”
As for long-time rival Federer, he is planning to bounce back from his loss to Thiem when he tackles the Miami Open this week.
“I have been playing every single day for the past three weeks,” Federer said.
“I can be very happy and proud of that fact.
“I feel really good, so why shouldn’t I go into the tournament and to the event confident?”