Rafael Nadal’s 18-year streak inside the world’s top 10 tennis players is about to come to an end, as the Spanish stalwart continues to struggle with injury.
Throughout his career, Nadal has racked up a number of astonishing records, with his long-stay inside the top 10 being one of them. His time on the court has been hampered over the past year though, as he continues to battle with his fitness issues.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has featured just once in 2023, coming in January as he looked to defend the Australian Open title that he won in Melbourne 12 months prior.
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It was not to be for Nadal, as he was defeated in the second round in straight sets against American Mackenzie McDonald. Since then, the joint most succesful Grand Slam champion of all time has not featured once, with injuries behind his prolonged absence.
This time away from the court has subsequently led to him dropping out the top 10 for the first time in nearly two decades. The drop was to be expected after Nadal confirmed he would miss both the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Open later this March.
Rafael Nadal’s lasting outing came against Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open
Rafael Nadal’s lasting outing came against Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)
It was then confirmed that he would officially drop out of the top 10 on March 20, following Taylor Fritz’s impressive run to the semi-finals of this week’s Mexican Open. It remains unknown as to when Nadal will return, but fans were given hope after he was seen training on the clay at his Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca.
Nadal has however limited expectations, claiming he has no targeted return date as he continues his recovery. Speaking on a return at Real Madrid’s recent Copa Del Rey semi-final against Barcelona, he said: “I do not know yet. I had a major breakdown in Australia and I don’t have a return date.