After ten incredible years on the Tour that promoted him into one of the greatest players of all time, Rafael Nadal started to lose steam in the second part of 2014 due to injuries. Winning only a couple of ATP titles by the end of 2016, Rafa struggled to find the form in those years and challenge the rivals from the top. Nonetheless, the Spaniard remained in the top-10 despite taking only one Masters 1000 title, recovering completely ahead of 2017 and returning where he belongs. Rafa conquered six trophies in 2017, including two Majors and two Masters 1000 tournaments to earn the year-end no. 1 honor for the first time in 2013 and complete an impressive comeback. Nadal has never left the top-6 again despite more troubles with injuries in the previous years, standing on 20 Major titles and 36 Masters 1000 crowns and as one of the most accomplished players in history.
The Spaniard added a Major and three Masters 1000 trophies to his tally in 2018 and spent most of the season at the top before Novak Djokovic passed him in the closing stages after Rafa closed the year following the US Open semi-final loss to Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal returned more vital in 2019, choosing his schedule wisely and delivering steady results and four notable titles to regain the ATP throne from Novak and become the oldest year-end no. 1 player in the ATP history at 33 (Djokovic would take that record away in 2020). There were some injuries again, but they could not disturb the Spaniard’s rhythm.
Rafael Nadal spoke about his career at the end of 2019.
He failed to reach the semi-final only twice and turned his deep runs into trophies in Rome, Roland Garros, Montreal and the US Open to leave the rivals behind him and write history. After winning the fifth Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown in that epic final against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the closing stages of 2019, Rafa expressed his appreciation for competing at this level so late in his career. The Spaniard overcame all the obstacles and showed an incredible desire to challenge the main rivals and extend his tennis journey as long as possible. As many times before, Rafa will have to start all over in 2022, experiencing a foot injury at Roland Garros and deciding to skip the rest of the current season and get back at 100%.
“The motivation is to keep doing something that is not forever. Keep doing something that you have prepared all your life to do, and honestly, it’s a gift for me to keep enjoying this sport at the highest level at this point in my career. I want to try to stay in this situation as long as possible, and that’s why I’m doing things the right way every single day,” Rafael Nadal said.