With 780 weeks in the top-5, Rafael Nadal stands second behind Roger Federer on the exclusive list. The 35-year-old Spaniard will have to start all over in 2022 if he wants to reach the magical number of 800 weeks in the elite group, struggling with injuries and missing the rest of the season due to foot issues. On Monday, September 13, Nadal will lose massive 2000 points earned at the US Open 2019 and leave the top-5 for the first time since April 2017! Nadal is the only player with at least 200 consecutive weeks in the top-5 on two occasions, embracing the first stint between 2005-2015 and the current one that will end in ten days. After a couple of challenging seasons due to injuries, Nadal returned at his best in 2017, winning two Major titles and conquering the ATP throne for the first time since 2014. Rafa cracked the top-5 that May and has stayed in that group for over four years.
After a couple of injuries and ups and downs in the current season, Rafa could not keep the ranking position from the beginning of the year, falling out from the top-5 after losing places to the young guns Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev. Nadal will not have the opportunity to climb through the rankings again in 2021, skipping the rest of the season due to a foot injury that bothers him since June. To make things even worse, Rafa could fall further down the rankings after missing the rest of the year, with Matteo Berrettini as the closest rival behind him. In June, Rafa struggled in the fourth set of the Roland Garros semi-final against Novak Djokovic, losing it after over four hours and staying away from the practice court for three weeks. Nadal tried to bounce back and compete despite the pain, playing two matches in Washington at the beginning of August before realizing it is pointless to continue, skipping the rest of the season and hoping for a strong start in 2022.
Rafael Nadal has dropped out from the top-5 for the first time since May 2017.
In January, Nadal suffered a back injury in Adelaide, withdrawing from the ATP Cup and losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarter-final despite two sets to love advantage! The Spaniard stepped back on the court in Monte Carlo and experienced the quarter-final loss to Andrey Rublev, who outplayed him in sets one and three. Rafa claimed the season’s first title in Barcelona after fending off a match point against Tsitsipas in that epic final before experiencing the quarter-final defeat at home in Madrid to Alexander Zverev, another young rival who is now ahead of him on the ATP list.
Nadal’s 36th Masters 1000 crown came in Rome following a title clash victory over Novak Djokovic, and those rivals met in the Roland Garros semi-final a few weeks later. This time, Djokovic had the upper hand and toppled Nadal after four hours and 11 minutes, as Rafa clearly struggled with his movement in the fourth set. After a break, the Spaniard tested his foot with two matches in Washington, still feeling the pain and withdrawing from Toronto and Cincinnati. As was expected, Nadal announced the US Open withdrawal, staying away from New York for the second straight year and deciding to put the curtain over his season and make a fresh start in 2022.