Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has officially dropped out of the Association of Tennis Professionals’ world top 10 rankings for the first time in 18 years, Racquet Magazine’s Ben Rothenberg noted Monday.
Until this week, Nadal had been in the Top 10 for 912 consecutive weeks. In 2020, he set the men’s record for a top 10 streak when he overtook Jimmy Connors’ previous record of 789. Martina Navratilova is the only tennis player to be Nadal’s record, sitting at the top of the women’s game for a spectacular 1,000 weeks.
Nadal, 36, has not fallen outside of the Top 10 since he entered in 2005 after he won at the Barcelona Open.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion has not competed in a tennis match since the Australian Open in January. Seeded No. 1, he sustained and played through a Grade 2 left hip flexor injury during a second-round loss to American Mackenzie McDonald. Nadal’s team, including his wife, were visibly devastated when they realized he was hurt. He later announced he would be recovering for 6-8 weeks.
As his recovery continues, he was forced to miss Indian Wells last week and fell to a world ranking of 13.
It seems unwise not to expect Nadal to return to the world top 10 once he returns. His consistency over more than 20 years throughout wrist and foot injuries argues that he can continue to play at an elite level. It’s a unique trait of his, as no player listed in the Top 20 from 2005 is still playing tennis professionally today.
According to Spanish Tennis publication Punto De Break, Barcelona Open director and former Spanish tennis player David Ferrer told reporters Rafael Nadal is practicing “five days a week,” with hopes to return to the court at Monte Carlo next month.
Meanwhile, fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz recently won his way back into the world rankings’ No. 1 spot after a dominant showing in the Indian Wells final. Despite Hawk Eye audio system and microphone failure in the fourth game of the match, which caused the umpire to yell out every unclear out point, the 19-year-old beat Daniil Medvedev 6-3 6-2 in 70 minutes.