Between 2006-2011, Rafael Nadal advanced to five Wimbledon finals from as many London trips, winning two titles and losing other finals to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard was the player to beat at the All England Club in 2008 and 2010, prevailing over Federer in that memorable 2008 final and toppling Tomas Berdych two years later to extend the streak.
In 2011, Nadal was in another title match, seeking the third title against an in-form Novak Djokovic, who ousted the Spaniard in four sets for his maiden Wimbledon trophy. That was the last notable Wimbledon for Rafa in over half a decade, struggling to find the proper form on the grass in the years to come and earning only eight victories at the most prestigious tennis event between 2012-17!
Speaking about those dark years at the most prestigious Major, Rafa said that his worst performances in London came in 2012 and 2013 when he shouldn't have played Wimbledon at first place but wanted to give it a go. After five straight finals, Nadal suffered a shocking second-round loss in 2012 against world no.
100 Lukas Rosol, who beat him 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in three hours and 18 minutes. Striking all-or-nothing shots from start to finish, the Czech took the rhythm away from Rafa, winning two points more and overpowering world no.
2 with a single break at the beginning of the decider. Nadal had the upper hand after the fourth set, but they had to leave the court for a while and continue under the roof due to darkness. Rosol regained his tennis and lost only three points behind the initial shot in the final set for a career-best triumph.
Rafael Nadal labeled 2012 and 2013 as his worst Wimbledon campaigns.
A year later, Nadal would finish as the year-end no. 1, but that honor didn't come as a reward for a deep Wimbledon run. Hitting rock-bottom, Rafa suffered the first-round exit to world no.
135 Steve Darcis, who stunned him 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 in just under three hours. Struggling with his knees, Nadal knew his chances for good results were very modest, still entering the event and experiencing one of his worst Major losses.
The Spaniard would have to wait for five years to finally turn the tide and make an impression at the All England Club, reaching the semi-final in 2018 and 2019 and losing those encounters against Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
"In 2012 and 2013, I had my worst time at Wimbledon. In 2012, for example, I competed, but I actually shouldn't. That was my last tournament until Vina del Mar next February. 2013 was a fantastic year; I won many titles but didn't play well at Wimbledon.
You need to bend down and have a stable knee for success on grass, something I didn't have back then. I knew it was practically impossible to make an impressive run, I already saw it in training, but I tried anyway," Rafael Nadal said.