Rafael Nadal played just 29 games in 2021, dealing with setbacks and ending his season in early August with a foot injury. 20-time Major Champion Nadal will finish the season in the top 10, but will not qualify for the ATP Finals for the first time since 2004!
The Spaniard has had many ups and downs in the past due to injuries, and he would still do enough to finish the year in the top 8 and at least get a ticket to the season-ending ATP event, despite skipping six times. The two-time ATP Finals finalist is the only player with 16 consecutive appearances in the premium ATP tournament.
He failed to extend that record when Jannik Sinner topped him on the ATP Race list on Friday night after reaching the Vienna quarterfinals. In January, Nadal injured his back in Adelaide while preparing for the Australian Open, skipping the ATP Cup and entering the season-opening Major with question marks above his head.
The Spaniard did his best to put up a challenging run in Melbourne, winning the first four matches without dropping a set and creating a huge two-set lead to love Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters. Experiencing a massive hit, Nadal dropped three straight sets and hit the starting gate, pulling out of Rotterdam and Miami and heading back to Monte Carlo on his beloved clay.
Aiming for another title in the Principality, Rafa lost in the quarterfinals to Andrey Rublev in three sets before clinching the twelfth Barcelona Open crown.
O’Sullivan on Rafa Nadal
In an interview, the British professional snooker player, Ronald O’Sullivan, appreciated the efforts of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for playing at such ages.
Being 45-years old, O’Sullivan knows that as a player begins to age, he loses his concentration and sustainability. Ronald O’Sullivan himself is a six times World Champion in snooker and knows what it means to compete at the highest level.
On the aging factor, he stated, “Because at my age now, if I win a tournament, or at least put my heart and soul into it, it takes me three or four days just to sort of recover again to be able to go again. Whereas maybe seven, eight years ago I could win the World Championship and then wake up the next day and think, ‘I could do that again.
Moreover, he demonstrated the example of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In his words, he said, “We’ve kind of been okay, because we came from special era where, like Federer and Nadal, 70% is still good enough to compete”.