Federer-Nadal era may be over

By Darren Walton, Darren Walton is a Roar Guru

 , ,

7 Have your say

    Related coverage

    World sport’s greatest individual rivalry as we know it may be over as Rafael Nadal’s ongoing woes continue.

    Nadal’s Australian Open withdrawal on Saturday has not only robbed the tournament of one of its major drawcards, but also left the Spanish superstar’s very career in limbo.

    Nadal’s second consecutive grand slam scratching will also end his seven-year reign in the world’s top four and his rankings slide will continue if he is unable to defend the mountain of points amassed during his most successful claycourt campaign ever last season.

    With Novak Djokovic re-establishing himself as the game’s dominant force, Andy Murray emerging as the world No.1’s pre-eminent rival, Roger Federer in the twilight of his career and 26-year-old Nadal weak at the knees, the tennis landscape may have shifted forever.

    No two men have slugged it out in more grand slam deciders than Nadal and Federer but, unless Nadal makes a complete recovery from tendinitis in his left knee, sports fans may never see the two tennis titans clash again on the biggest stages – major finals.

    While Federer has vowed to continue playing on until 2016 and remains No.2 in the world, the Swiss maestro turns 32 in August – and there are no guarantees for Nadal.

    As it stands, with Nadal to lose his top-four status, he will no longer be guaranteed to avoid Djokovic, Federer and Murray until semi-finals at the slams.

    He has been sidelined for six months already and is now targeting a return at Acapulco on February 27, although the 11-times major winner hasn’t completely ruled out playing at an earlier event if his recovery goes well.

    The Majorcan’s latest setback stems from a virus that he and his medical team feel has cruelled his chances of being competitive at the Open starting on January 14 in Melbourne.

    In a statement, Nadal said he simply wouldn’t have the proper preparation to play in a best-of-five-set tournament straight away.

    Nadal stressed that his decision had nothing to do with the knee tendinitis which led to his hiatus since suffering a shock second-round loss to then 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.

    “My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors,” Nadal said.

    “But this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open.

    “As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks.

    “I always said that my return to competition will be when I am in the right conditions to play and after all this time away from the courts I’d rather not accelerate the comeback and prefer to do things well.”

    Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, said it was “not conceivable” for the former No.1 to make his comeback at Melbourne Park.

    “That his first event is a best-of-five-sets event, he wouldn’t be ready for that,” he said.

    Nadal’s knee injury prevented him from defending his Olympic singles gold at the London Games, where he was supposed to be Spain’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony.

    He also had to pull out of the US Open and Spain’s Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic, which his teammates lost without him.

    Nadal, currently ranked fourth, won the Australian Open in 2009 and last year lost to Djokovic in an epic final that lasted five hours and 53 minutes, the longest men’s grand slam final on record.

    Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he understood Nadal’s decision.

    “We just hope he gets better quickly and we see him back on the tour as soon as possible,” Tiley said.

    “Tennis fans across the world have been missing him.”

    © AAP 2018
    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (7)

    • December 30th 2012 @ 9:58am
      ConorHarvey1888 said | December 30th 2012 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      It’s a loss for tennis that Nadal won’t be at the Australian, any tournament is worse without him there. However, as a fierce Andy Murray fan, this creates hope that he can mount another charge at the Australian Open title, having lost in the final the last two years. I’m hoping this is the year he finally captures this particular title.

    • December 30th 2012 @ 1:49pm
      laura B said | December 30th 2012 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

      Just another in a seemingly endless line of examples of the ascendancy of Federer over all others in history. Taking the long view, he didn’t beat up his body for 1 tournament or season. How often did we observe that Nadal’s style was too hard on the body?

    • Roar Rookie

      December 30th 2012 @ 8:44pm
      neily_b said | December 30th 2012 @ 8:44pm | ! Report

      I think the style of tennis that he plays has drastically shortened his career but at the same time, it has helped him become successful faster than many others. It is disappointing to have an Australian Open without Nadal after some of the epic matches he has played here (Verdasco and Hewitt are two that come to mind) and I really hope that he can be healthy again by the time the clay season comes around, it just wouldn’t be the same without him! Even if he does drop down the rankings a bit he would become a very dangerous floater for some other guys.

    • December 31st 2012 @ 8:43am
      Whiteline said | December 31st 2012 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      Nadal’s injuries since about 2008 has ensured Federer had success at Slam level for longer. Nadal had his measure much to the annoyance of Roger fans.
      The tally of Slam wins would have been closer to equal between these two if not for injury but that what makes Roger the greater champion in many ways. Longevity and durability is a necessary characteristic of great players.

      • January 2nd 2013 @ 11:38am
        matswilly said | January 2nd 2013 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        What a clever argument is that!
        You can say as well that Djokovic has Nadal’s measure
        (but not quite Federer’s yet, having to defend matchpoints each time).
        Anyway, superior technique has also the advantage of reducing risks of injury.
        If you take shortcuts on the game, you may obtain quick rewards
        but lose on the long distance race covered with even more rewards.
        That’s a life lesson as well.

    • January 2nd 2013 @ 7:54am
      laura B said | January 2nd 2013 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      Indeed, Nadal would be an exciting danger as a floater. (Well maybe that’s the wrong term; it’s Roger who ‘floats’. Let’s call Nadal a jittery floater who could give other players the jitters.) Nevertheless Roger in my view will remain a true CONTENDER for at least a couple years. Ergonomically and biomechanically he’s designed and worked for that.

    • Roar Pro

      January 4th 2013 @ 3:34pm
      Jocelyn McLennan said | January 4th 2013 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

      Nadal’s time at the top is now passed but Federer is still the force to be reckoned with….it will be a three way tussle this year not a two way…Nadal may get his health back together to take his beloved Monte Carlo and be a force at the French…but beyond that the ongoing over use injuries in his knees prevents the hard core ongoing training he needs to ba a force on all surfaces all year at all tournaments…Federer may back off on the amount of tournaments he plays but he will be quality not quantity….he still has it to be number one IF he wants it bad enough…he has another Wimbledon in him too but must do it before 2014.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    , ,