The next generation of Spanish tennis is doing extremely well. Carlos Alcaraz, 19, has just won the Indian Wells tournament and sits on the throne in the ATP rankings. But for his illustrious elder, Rafael Nadal, the dynamic is the opposite. Injured since January, the Mallorcan left the world top 10 for the first time since 2005 on Monday. He had sat there for 6,538 days in a row, almost 18 years.
The Spaniard now ranks 13th in the world rankings. The lack of competition mechanically caused him to lose ATP points. This ends a streak of 912 weeks in a row in the top 10, an all-time high. He entered it for the first time on April 24, 2005, after his victory in the final of the Barcelona tournament against Juan Carlos Ferrero. The current coach of… Carlos Alcaraz.
Absent since the Australian Open
But Rafael Nadal has not played since his hip injury in the second round of the Australian Open against Mackenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-4, 7-5 defeat). For several years, the 36-year-old player has been handicapped by his physique. If he had started the year 2022 with two Grand Slam successes in Melbourne and then at Roland-Garros, the end of the year had been more delicate.
Last December, the co-record holder of major victories (22, tied with Novak Djokovic) confided to Marca that he had considered stopping his career because of his foot pain. “I thought I had to quit tennis because I had lost my vitality and was a sad person most days. The Majorcan suffered from Müller-Weiss syndrome and is now undergoing treatment to cure this disease. But other glitches now prevent him from playing.
After his elimination at the Australian Open in January and his new hip injury, the Spaniard said he was “mentally destroyed”. Again, he was facing a recovery process: “I’ve been through this too many times in my career. I think I can still do it, but it’s not easy. »
A return to clay
Rafael Nadal did not line up for the US tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami (March 19-April 2). But the Mallorcan is training again and preparing for a return to clay. The first major meeting of the season will take place during the Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo (April 8 to 16).
In a press release, the tournament director, David Mossey, confirmed the player’s desire to ensure his place: “Rafa was the first player to register. He really wants to play at the Monte‐Carlo Masters and is putting all the chances on his side to take part in the tournament he loves so much. »
The Spanish player has won the Monte-Carlo tournament eleven times in his career. But the most important deadline of the year remains of course Roland-Garros for him. Rafael Nadal, defending champion, lifted the Musketeers cup fourteen times. Even in pain, the Majorcan has already proven that he is capable of yet another comeback.