The 20-time Major winner will quickly forget his 2021 season, battling injuries and failing to reach a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2016. Rafael Nadal claimed two titles on his beloved clay, but even that wasn't enough to make him happy.
since he could not defend the crown of Roland Garros. Nadal lost in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo and Madrid to Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev, couldn't match his pace and struggled against other youngsters in Barcelona and Rome.
In both events, the Spaniard defended match points to lift the trophies, beating Novak Djokovic in the Rome final for his 36th Masters 1000 crown and hoping for more at Roland Garros. Unlike 2020, when he stormed the entire circuit, Nadal was vulnerable with serve this year in Paris, winning five games but failed to reach the final for only the fourth time since 2005.
Rafa lost to Novak 3-6, 6 - 3, 7-6, 6-2 in four hours and 11 minutes in an epic semi-final clash, experiencing his third loss at Roland Garros and his second to Novak, who surpassed him in the 2015 quarter-finals. It was one of the best matches of all time, with two tennis giants pushing themselves to the limit from start to finish.
Novak claimed just seven games in last year's final, and lost the first five in this one, just by a big difference. The Serbian was ready to fight this time around, finding his blows at the end of the first match and taking the second to level the score in just under two hours of a grueling battle.
Davydenko speaks about Rafael Nadal
In a recent interview with Eurosport, former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko shared his opinion on the possibility of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal successfully returning from their respective injuries.
Speaking about the duo in the interview on Wednesday, the Russian opined it will be difficult for them to be competitive when they return - especially if they find themselves in long-drawn matches over five sets. "I think it will be hard for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to return with such injuries," Davydenko said.
"Of course, the fans are going to beat me up now and say I'm talking nonsense. But if you feel it as it is, then they will already give way little by little. Maybe they will win something - I'm not saying that they will all lose," he added.
"But I don't think they can potentially win a five-set match. They can play an hour out of three sets, one and a half. And so you can play a tournament, but the main thing is that if something does not work out again, some kind of injury.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will go down in the rankings anyway," Davydenko continued. "They are not playing at all at the moment. I don’t know if they'll come to the court at all. We are talking about those who are now injured. We do not know when they will come out - we have to ask them."