Rafael Nadal has been the protagonist of great tennis achievements during his long career but also of dramatic and unexpected moments. His performances on clay-courts were legendary: Nadal is considered the greatest tennis player ever on clay-courts.
At Roland Garros, he rewrote all types of records, touching peaks that no other player managed to achieve. The 12 titles on the Philippe Chatrier court are a goal that no man and no woman in the history of men's and women's singles of each Slam were able to obtain.
But Nadal also experienced sporting dramatic moments. 2011 was a strange year for the Spanish champion. He won the French Open, but he was also sensationally beaten by Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final and in the US Open final.
Two unexpected and incredible sticks, which weighed heavily on Nadal's season and, above all, made him understand how Djokovic was now very close to his level. In 2015 Nadal lived the worst season of his career. It was a dramatic year: he seemed to have no more technique, physical strength, mental strength available.
His opponents, like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, seemed unbeatable. The climax was the defeat at the Roland Garros, in the quarterfinals. Rafa lost his second Parisian match, this time against Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal's most sportingly dramatic moments
Injuries were also an integral part of the most dramatic moments of his career.
One example was the 2014 Australian Open final lost to Stan Wawrinka. In that final Rafa was conditioned by back problems, which prevented him from expressing his best level. Another very painful injury preceded his third round at the French Open 2016.
The pain prevented him from going on the court: that was the first time he had to retire to Roland Garros. Another painful defeat was the epoch-making final of the Australian Open 2017. Against his nemesis Roger Federer, Nadal had the chance to win, having been ahead of a break in the fifth set.
We all know how that challenge ended: Federer recovered the break and, thanks also to an incredibly effective backhand, he defeated his rival and won his 18th Slam. However, the most dramatic moment of Rafael Nadal's career will remain forever the fourth round of the 2009 Roland Garros lost against Robin Soderling.
An inexplicable defeat, the first in Paris. After eleven years it is still difficult to understand how Rafa managed to lose that challenge, certainly the toughest of his immense career.