Tennis legend Rafael Nadal’s historic 18-year ATP world ranking has officially come to an end after injury forced him to miss out on the Indian Wells.
The 36-year-old Spaniard, who had been in the top 10 ranks since April 2005, fell to number 13 after Carlos Alcaraz stole back his number 1 spot from Novak Djokovic after winning his match against Daniil Medvedev during the Indian Wells final on Sunday, March 19.
Nadal’s failure to protect his 600 points at Indian Wells led to him falling four positions in the rankings. This also marked the end of his remarkable 912-week run inside the top 10, which began before Alcaraz was even two.
An extraordinary @RafaelNadal run in the Top 10 has finally come to an end…????
What a run, Rafa! ???????? pic.twitter.com/MT2ANzsnh2
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 20, 2023
However, it might be a while until Nadal reclaims his spot in the top 10 ranks as he was also forced to skip the Master 1000 event in California, as he is yet to recover from his hip injury which forced him to end his Australian Open title defence in the second round back in January.
Despite his recent injuries, it is understood that Nadal is currently prepping for next month’s Monte Carlo Masters before heading to the French Open in June.
Meanwhile, Serbian Djokovic has expressed his desire to compete against Nadal in the French Open now that he and Nadal both tied with 22 Grand Slam men’s singles titles each, saying he would love for them to battle it out to claim the outright record.
According to the ABC, former US Open champion Dominic Thiem says “it would be nice to see [them have] one last showdown at Roland Garros,” adding that it’s likely Djokovic would win the last major this year.
“The only tournament is Roland Garros. If Rafa is fit there, it’s exactly the opposite. He’s the man to beat when he won the tournament 14 times, it’s crazy.”
World number 4 Casper Ruud has also said it wouldn’t shock him to see Nadal springing back into action as soon as his body lets him.
“It wouldn’t surprise me because he’ll probably use these weeks and these months, as he’s preparing for exactly Roland Garros,” Ruud said.
“It doesn’t matter if he loses in Monte Carlo or Rome or Madrid. The only thing that’s probably on his mind these days is just to be fit, be healthy and be ready for Roland Garros.”
In his 18 years in the ATP world rankings, Nadal had spent 209 weeks at number 1 and had broken the record for most Grand Slam men’s single titles.