Happy unbirthday Rafa.
It’s been exactly two years since the Spaniard has won a non-clay tournament, and that streak shows no signs of being broken any time soon. It’s shocking, when you think about it, considering how Nadal – along with Federer and Djokovic – has dominated the Tour over the past years.
His most recent injury has put him out of action for a while, of course, but it is strange to consider that it was in October of 2010 that Nadal last won a hard court event. It was during the ATP 500 event in Tokyo, hot on the heels of his US Open victory. Nadal beat Gael Monfils in that match, but he could not have known how long a drought he would have to endure after that.
This doesn’t mean that Nadal has not been reaching finals – he has – but simply that he hasn’t been winning them. This says as much about the improvement of his opposition as it says about his own deteriorating skill set. The Spaniard lost in most of those matches to Federer and Djokovic, and this spate of losses includes the likes of Indian Wells, Miami and the 2011 US Open final.
It’s interesting that, upon close inspection, Nadal’s record against his main rivals does not stand up to much scrutiny. He has losing records against both Federer and Djokovic, and barely edges Murray 6-5 in their head-to-head.
The loss that must have hurt Nadal most was the Australian Open loss at the start of this year. He really should have won that match, but his own faults and Djokovic’s brilliance saw to it that his hard court drought continued. Now, with his latest injury woes, one cannot help but wonder if Nadal will ever again win a major hard court tournament.
There’s little doubt that, when the Spaniard returns full force to the Tour in 2013, he will do well on clay. But will he be able to compete on other surfaces? There aren’t too many positive signs that he will be able to.
That being said, Nadal has shown over the past few years that he will fight to the very last, and this situation is no different.
If past performance is anything to go by, Nadal might just surprise us all yet.