Is Nadal’s tennis career in jeopardy?

Ryan Eckford Roar Pro

By Ryan Eckford, Ryan Eckford is a Roar Pro

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    Rafael Nadal is back on clay in Monte Carlo. (Image: Getty)

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    Steve Darcis has caused one of the greatest upsets in recent tennis history, defeating Rafael Nadal in straight sets, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4, in the opening round of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.

    This is the first time in his distinguished career that Nadal has lost in the opening round of any Grand Slam singles event.

    Nadal, the winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles, and a two-time winner at the All England Club, had been in sensational form since his comeback from a knee injury, that kept him out for about seven months.

    He has won seven singles titles so far this year, including his eighth French Open at Roland Garros, and he is currently leading the ATP World Tour’s Singles Race to London, already qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London at the end of the year.

    However, his shock loss to Darcis in the opening round at Wimbledon has raised questions about Nadal’s fitness and condition, as well as his longevity in the game.

    Nadal has battled a congenital foot disease involving the tarsal scaphoid bone in his left foot, which caused him to miss the 2006 Australian Open; an injury that could have ended his career at the tender age of 19.

    However, with careful adjustments to the soles of his tennis shoes to help support the tarsal scaphoid, Nadal was able to continue playing tennis at a very high level, but with some bad consequences to other parts of his body, such as his knees.

    Nadal missed the 2009 Wimbledon Championships with knee tendonitis, after losing in the fourth round to Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open, his only loss at Roland Garros.

    However, the injury wasn’t as serious as the seven-month layoff he had after losing to Lukas Rosol in the second round at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships.

    But this new low has raised further questions about his future in the game.

    In 2012 Nadal played 48 matches for 42 wins and six losses before his seven-month injury layoff. So far in 2013, Nadal has played 46 matches for 43 wins and three losses in a shorter timeframe than he did in 2012.

    So he has got to ask himself the question, is it worth playing when he can only play this amount of matches per year?

    Nadal’s playing style is a type that not many people can match, or sustain for such a long period of time; a style that puts excessive strain on his body.

    It is a playing style that he is willing to stick to through thick and thin, and his stubbornness to change his style of play, combined with his fierce determination, is why many millions of people across the world have loved watching him play.

    However, is it worth it to continue playing when he has achieved so much already?

    If Nadal can only play 45 to 50 matches, and he wants to become the world No. 1 again, well, it is not going to happen, even in the most realistic scenario, because he can’t accumulate the points he would need to reach the very top of the game once again, even if other top-ranked players were all inconsistent.

    Nadal may have to retire from the sport that has treated him so well, yet so harshly.

    However, I am sure Nadal and his coach will be patient and make some tough decisions on his career in their own time.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • June 26th 2013 @ 3:47am
      Frankie Hughes said | June 26th 2013 @ 3:47am | ! Report

      Wimbledon legend Boris Becker said that grass courts are more damaging for Nadal’s knees, more so than hard courts.

      The uncertain footing and low bounce causes Nadal excessive problems.

      If he axed grass from the schedule, he’s still capable of playing for maybe 2/3 years.

      He’s still nearing unbeatable on clay(only Djokovic is a threat)

      He shows at Indian Wells he’s still more than good enough on the hard courts.

      I think of he’s fit, Nadal can still win New York.

      • Roar Guru

        June 26th 2013 @ 4:06am
        peeeko said | June 26th 2013 @ 4:06am | ! Report

        i dont think the grass is a huge concern, its only one tournament a year. he now has two weeks to rest and prepare for the american hard court season

        • June 26th 2013 @ 8:48am
          Frankie Hughes said | June 26th 2013 @ 8:48am | ! Report

          Canada Masters is in 6/7 weeks, so if Nadal is gonna play New York he’s gotta target Montreal.

          He won’t play Cincinnati as the courts there are so fast.

    • June 26th 2013 @ 6:53am
      ohtani's jacket said | June 26th 2013 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      Nadal’s knees were always going to spell the end of him but since his biggest fans have gone from saying he will beat Federer in straight sets to claiming grass is the problem it’s obvious that no-one outside of Nadal and his camp knew how the knee was holding up. The only thing for sure is that his hopes of finishing the year at No. 1 have been dashed as he hasn’t been great on the hard courts in the past few years. He needs to take a look at his schedule and skip more tournaments ala Federer.

      • June 26th 2013 @ 8:45am
        Frankie Hughes said | June 26th 2013 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        It’s not about skipping events though.

        Nadal’s forte and fortress is clay.

        Apart from 2013, he normally plays only the European clay court season(Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Paris)

        Unlike Federer, the clay season is all compressed within a 6-8 week window. Federer can skip hard court events as they are spread over 8 months of the season.

        So Nadal can’t skip any of the events, even though Barcelona is only a 500 it’s the Spanish national event. Madrid was transferred to clay to stop Nadal skipping Hamburg.

        • June 26th 2013 @ 3:45pm
          ohtani's jacket said | June 26th 2013 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

          Skipping hardcourt events hurts Federer in the rankings. It was partly why he lost the number one ranking. He does it for his body’s sake and to prolong his career. Nadal should start doing the same if he wants to be a regular on circuit.

          Nadal could skp events if he wanted to, but he’s always talked about the pressure of playing at the clay court tournaments to keep them as clay court tournaments and not have the organisers switch to hard courts. Now that he’s getting older, it’s time to rethink that responsibility.

    • Roar Guru

      June 26th 2013 @ 10:28am
      mastermind5991 said | June 26th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      I boldly predicted Rafa would be the champion this year, on the basis of his so-far dominant 2013 season, and now this happens?

      It proves that tennis is unpredictable. Let’s just hope it’s not the beginning of another Rafa decline, because I believe he can do well over the US Open series and have a realistic shot of ending this year as World No. 1 (he has no more points to defend this year).

      He also only needs to win the year-end title in London (which he came closest to doing in 2010, only for Roger Federer to deny him) to officially cement his place as one of the greatest players in the modern era of men’s tennis.

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