A complex year for Rafael Nadal, this was 2021. The Spaniard closes a season in which his back and foot injury predominated, which led him to play few tournaments and have a marked drop in the ATP ranking. A review of how his path was.
The expectation of starting the year with a title under his arm was truncated in the Australian Open. Although he arrived touched by a back injury, he seemed more fired up than ever, since he had gotten into the quarterfinals without giving up any set, although he did appear Stefanos Tsitsipas to hit him hard in five sets.
Almost two months later he reappeared on the courts to play the Masters Monte-Carlo 1000. In his debut in the second round he beat Federico Delbonis, then dropped Grigor Dimitrov, but in fourth Andrey Rublev arrived to stop him.
On the tour on brick dust came his first title of the year. At Barcelona ATP 500, dazzled with his level and took revenge against Tsitsipas to win a short but entertaining final in straight sets.
In May, the second Masters 1000 of the season he played was Madrid and he also said goodbye in the quarterfinals, this time against the German Alexander Zverev.
Roma, the M1000 before Roland Garros, was the peak of their tennis level during the year. He won it from end to end, with a special flavor in the final: nothing more and nothing less than on the other side Novak Djokovic, who he beat in three sets to add his title N ° 10 in the Foro Italico.
When it seemed that everything was given to retain the crown at Roland Garros for the fifth consecutive year, a new injury appeared, in the foot, and Nole took the opportunity to take revenge for what happened weeks before in Rome.
In the semifinals and in a real match, Rafa’s dream of lifting his title No. 14 in the Parisian Grand Slam was ended, at his home, and it was another great blow for the rest of the season. Anyway, he had made a great tournament by leaving Diego Schwartzman, Jannik Sinner and Cameron Norrie, among others, on the road.
From there, Nadal’s free fall of the year. For the physical problems skipped Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, a sensible low for world tennis.
In the ATP 500 of Washington he had his last battle. After overcoming a tough debut against Jack Sock in the second round, Lloyd Harris ended Rafa’s year on the third wheel, because after that defeat his situation would worsen with his foot and he would again move away from the courts.
In short, Nadal only played seven tournaments in 2021. With a record of 24-5, the 35-year-old from Manacor raised only two trophies, played two of the four Grand Slam, missed the Olympic event and had a marked drop in the ranking. , as It will conclude as No. 6 in the world, its second-lowest mark since 2005.
It should be noted that in 2016 he had finished in position No. 9, although it continues to keep alive the tradition of finishing within the Top Ten since 2005.
The faithful reflection of what his year was can be seen in that although he was not going to contest them due to his injury, for the first time in 17 years he did not qualify for the ATP Finals, which in this edition were held in Turin. Nor could he play the Davis Cup Finals with Spain.
In Abu Dhabi made its last appearance, the exhibition tournament that is a classic for him at the end of each year. Against this background, Nadal is preparing for the start of the next season, in which he will surely have the opportunity to score several points if his physical condition allows it.