Rafael Nadal drops out from the top-4 in another ranking setback

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Rafael Nadal drops out from the top-4 in another ranking setback

After a couple of challenging seasons due to injuries, Rafael Nadal returned at his best in 2017, winning two Major titles and returning to the ATP throne. Rafa returned into the top-4 that May and had stayed in that group for over four years.

After a couple of injuries and ups and downs in the current season, Rafa could not keep the ranking position from the beginning of the year, falling out from the top-4 after losing places to Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

On Monday, Nadal fell to 5th place in the rankings, his worst position since May 2017, allowing Alexander Zverev to move in front of him following the German's Cincinnati title. Heading to Ohio with a terrible 0-6 score, Zverev went all the way to claim the fifth Masters 1000 crown and add 1000 points to his tally, doing enough to move ahead of the 20-time Major winner.

Nadal will not have the opportunity to climb through the rankings again in 2021, skipping the rest of the season due to a foot injury that bothers him since June. Rafa struggled in the fourth set of the Roland Garros semi-final against Novak Djokovic, losing that one after over four hours and staying away from the practice court for three weeks.

Nadal tried to bounce back and compete despite the pain, playing two matches in Washington at the beginning of August before realizing it is pointless to continue before getting back at 100%, skipping the rest of the season and hoping for a strong start in 2022.

Rafael Nadal has dropped out from the top-4 for the first time since May 2017.

Since the beginning of the season, Nadal has been dealing with injuries, hurting his back in Adelaide in January and not competing at the ATP Cup.

Starting the season at the Australian Open, Rafa beat four rivals in straight sets before wasting two sets to love advantage versus Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters for a massive blow. After almost two months, Nadal returned to action in Monte Carlo and suffered the quarter-final defeat to Andrey Rublev, who outplayed him in sets one and three.

Rafa claimed the season's first title in Barcelona after fending off a match point against Tsitsipas in that epic final before experiencing the quarter-final loss at home in Madrid to Alexander Zverev. Nadal's 36th Masters 1000 crown came in Rome following a title clash victory over Novak Djokovic, and those rivals met in the Roland Garros semi-final a few weeks later.

This time, Djokovic had the upper hand and toppled Nadal after four hours and 11 minutes, with Rafa clearly struggling with his movement in the fourth set. After that, the Spaniard tested his foot with two matches in Washington, still feeling the pain and withdrawing from Toronto and Cincinnati.

As was expected, Nadal announced the US Open withdrawal on Friday, staying away from New York and the rest of the season to heal the injury and make a fresh start in 2022. Rafa will drop out from the top-5 soon, and we should if he could keep the year-end top-10 place as always since 2005, depending on his opponent's results.