'Rafael Nadal's shadow covers a lot', says former Top 5

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'Rafael Nadal's shadow covers a lot', says former Top 5

Rafael Nadal won the Barcelona Open last year, but will not be able to defend the title in 2022 due to a stress fracture in his rib. The former world number 1 became the protagonist of a memorable start to the season, in which he proved once again to be a legend of modern sport.

Arriving in Australia amidst a thousand uncertainties after a long stop due to injury, the Spanish phenomenon has achieved one of the most incredible feats of his entire career. Rafa in fact won the Australian Open against all odds, coming back two sets of disadvantage to Daniil Medvedev in the final.

The 35-year-old from Manacor has thus surpassed Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings of the Majors, as well as becoming the fourth man in history to have won all the Grand Slams at least twice. The Iberian injured his rib during the Indian Wells Masters 1000, a setback that forced him to miss the first rounds on red.

Nadal has resumed training for a few days and hopes to be at the start of the Mutua Madrid Open. In a recent interview with 'La Vanguardia', David Ferrer analyzed the future of Spanish tennis once Rafa retires.

David Ferrer opens up on Nadal

"The post-Rafael Nadal stage will be difficult," David Ferrer said.

"Rafa's shadow covers a lot. There will be no other player like him. But we are lucky. We have Carlos Alcaraz who is going to be a benchmark for Spanish tennis. But I don't like to compare him to Rafa because he is unique and different.

He is special." Rafael Nadal won last year's Barcelona Open but will not defend his title in 2022 due to a stress fracture in his ribs that he sustained during his Indian Wells semifinal against Alcaraz. "I am very happy to have players like Tsitsipas who made the final with Rafa last year and was about to win Roland Garros, he is a very charismatic player," Ferrer said.

"Then we have new top 10 like Casper Ruud, who played the Masters last year and is very good on clay. From there I want to name Roberto Bautista, Pablo Carreño and of course Carlos Alcaraz, this year's revelation, a young player with a great future and who will be a benchmark for Spanish tennis after Rafa."

Rafael Nadal had one of the most remarkable starts to his 2022 season. Returning to the tour after a long injury layoff, the Spaniard won three back-to-back hardcourt titles including his recording-breaking 21st Major win at the Australian Open.

He was on course for his 4th consecutive title win at the Indian Wells Masters, but suffered an injury setback in the final and subsequently succumbed to his first and only loss of the 2022 season.