'Rafael Nadal is not worried. It had to happen,' says his uncle

Rafael Nadal had to leave the top-10 group for the first time since April 2005

by Jovica Ilic
'Rafael Nadal is not worried. It had to happen,' says his uncle

Rafael Nadal's historic streak of 912 consecutive top-10 weeks ended after Indian Wells. Rafa entered the top-10 in April 2005 and remained there until the last week, setting the record that will take some beating in the future.

Rafa's uncle Toni said it did not affect his nephew too much, as a 22-time Major winner knew he could only keep the top-10 spot with consistent results. Nadal has been struggling for nine months, winning his last title at the last year's Roland Garros and playing only 13 matches after Wimbledon due to injuries.

Rafa had rough seasons before, barely staying in the top-10 in 2015 and 2016 before bouncing back in 2017. Rafa performed an incredible comeback and returned to where he belonged. Nadal claimed the opening two Major titles in 2022, looking good to becoming world no.

1 at 36. Instead, he injured his abdominal muscle at Wimbledon, surviving a thriller against Taylor Fritz and withdrawing ahead of the semi-final duel with Nick Kyrgios. Rafa revealed a seven-millimeter tear and played only nine matches by the end of the season.

Rafael Nadal knew his top-10 days were over.

The Spaniard scored three wins at the US Open before losing to Frances Tiafoe. The pain was still there, and Rafa missed all the action ahead of the Paris Masters. Never enjoying indoor conditions, Nadal struggled to find the pace after a long break, losing four consecutive matches for the first time since 2009!

The year-end no. 1 battle became the mission impossible, and Rafa embraced an off-season, hoping for a fresh start in 2023. Instead, he has played only four matches this year, losing three and sealing his fate in the top-10 after Indian Wells.

Nadal experienced losses to Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur at the United Cup despite winning the opening set. Not feeling at his best, Rafa gave everything while seeking the Australian Open title defense. He overpowered the young Briton Jack Draper and faced Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.

The American proved too strong and scored a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 triumph. Rafa injured his left hip in the second set's closing stages, refusing to retire and giving his 120% in the third. However, he suffered a late break to propel the rival over the top and drop almost 2000 ATP points.

After further checks, Nadal revealed a Grade 2 iliopsoas injury that forced him to miss Doha, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami. Falling through the ATP list, Rafa dropped 600 ATP points on Monday and found himself outside the top-10 for the first time in almost 18 years!

Nadal is back on the practice court, working hard on his game and hoping to play injury-free in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. "Rafa feels much better, but everything is still unknown. When he competes, he needs to know that he can win.

If he is not convinced he can play well, he will not return but will keep training. You must bring consistency to remain in the top-10, and Rafa knew his streak would end. That does not worry him too much. The important thing is to feel well and play competitive tennis once he returns. Things are getting more difficult every year, but Rafa will make another push," Toni Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal