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Rafael Nadal is obviously one of the most successful tennis players to have ever picked up a racket. The man has 22 Grand Slam titles to his name, and this includes 14 Roland Garros titles – a figure that could well never be beaten. And at 36 years of age, it’s crazy to think that Nadal has been around for basically two decades at this point. As a matter of fact, Nadal turned professional all the way back in 2001, and he quickly evolved into a legend of the sport.
However, as magnificent as his career has been, there are signs that the great man is starting to slip away from the top of the game. More specifically, due to an injury-plagued start to the 2023 season, Nadal has unfortunately fallen out of the ATP’s top 10 rankings. Believe it or not, Nadal hasn’t been outside of the top 10 since he first entered this promised land back in 2005. This was achieved when he won the Barcelona Open when he was just 18 years of age.
So to give you an idea of just how remarkable this streak is, Nadal has been inside the top 10 for more than 17.5 years. This is something that would have been just incomprehensible for many. Then again, Rafael Nadal is far from your average tennis player. His resilience, dedication, and sheer fighting spirit have helped him to achieve just outrageous things on a tennis court.
But this recent rankings slide feels like it has more significance than just a snap of the top 10 streak, in my personal opinion. Nevertheless, Nadal is still planning a return to the tour, and this exit from the top 10 might not be for long.
Nadal’s Streak Ended, but Hope on the Horizon in 2023
Everybody loves a streak in sports, and this doesn’t just relate to tennis. As sports fans, we cannot help but marvel at athletes that achieve superhuman things, and Nadal’s top-10 streak is definitely one of these feats. Yet as sad as it is that this streak has come to an end, let’s look at why it might not be definitive for his 2023 season.
No Points to Defend at Miami Open
I stated previously that Nadal has suffered from injuries in 2023, but this also dates back to the start of 2022. At the 2022 Indian Wells tournament, Nadal suffered a fractured rib which ruled him out of the Miami Open. Therefore, he has no points to defend next week, and this is good for his ranking.
Planned Return for Monte Carlo Masters
Here is some good news for Rafael Nadal fans – he is officially down as an entrant for the 2023 Monte Carlo Masters. This clay court tournament is set to begin on April 8th, and Nadal missed this event in 2022 through injury. Therefore, a deep draw win at this tournament could take him right back into the top 10.
Upcoming Clay Court Swing – His Favourite Surface
Nadal is without a doubt the best clay court player of all time. And since he didn’t win a single clay court event in the build-up to the 2023 French Open, he has tons of points to rack up this summer. So taking that into account, I’d go as far as to say that it is likely that Nadal is back inside the top 10 before long.