Rafael Nadal's career is studded with great successes and incredible records: with 19 Slams he is aiming Roger Federer's record, but the Spaniard has achieved other great goals, such as the twelve triumphs at the Roland Garros and all the titles on clay-courts.
For each season, however, there is a particular goal, an achievement that should be highlighted. 2015 was the worst season of the Spaniard: a year of crisis that, sooner or later, should have come. It was a year stingy with satisfaction for him.
Nadal lost a match at the French Open for the second time in his career. It was Novak Djokovic the emulator of Robin Soderling on that occasion. Rafa's tennis was no longer enough, physically, technically and even mentally.
It was the first time since the beginning of his extraordinary career that Rafa went through a long period of difficulty. His tennis wasn't enough, his physique wasn't responding enough. It seemed (at least for his detractors) the epilogue of his amazing career.
Rafael Nadal 2015 victory on Stuttgart grass-courts
In that season Nadal won three titles: Buenos Aires, Stuttgart and Hamburg. Just at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart Nadal won his fourth and (so far) last grass-court title.
The Spaniard, who was top-seeded, had a bye in the first round, while in the second and third round he suffered terribly against Marcos Baghdatis and Bernard Tomic. He won these matches in three sets, risking the elimination.
In the semi-final, he eliminated Gael Monfils in two sets, showing for the first time during the tournament continuity and a good psycho-physical level. In the final and he faced and defeated Viktor Troicki in two sets, for 7-6 (3) 6-2 obtaining one of the few seasonal joys.
"I have to change, yes. I have to change in one very important aspect: being the player I was a year ago. This is the most important change. I don't want to find excuses regarding the external environment. When things are not going well it's my fault and not a fault of the people around me.
I don't know if I can win another Slam, I think so. I don't know if I will make it, but I can do it. If I am able to be calm, to control my emotions again. I will work hard to get more chances in the next two years," said Rafael Nadal that year.