UNFORTUNATE! A Masterful Streak of Rafael Nadal Since 2004 Comes to an End

Published 10/29/2021, 11:30 PM EDT
Rafael Nadal of Spain looks dejected during his match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia during Day 7 of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 21, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)


20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal is the epitome of competitiveness and consistency on the ATP Tour. However, the 2021 season turned out to be frustrating for the Spaniard. First, he lost his French Open crown to Novak Djokovic, and then he aggravated his foot injury, causing him to end the season prematurely. Now, Nadal has failed to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals for the first time since 2004.

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Notably, only the best eight players of a calendar year qualify for the elite ATP Finals. And given Nadal’s consistency over the years, he has always managed to make it into the year-ending finale. But not this time.

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Jannik Sinner replaces Rafael Nadal in the ATP Finals 2021 qualification race

First and foremost, Nadal has competed in fewer tournaments this year compared to other players. Even then, he held his place in the Top 8 for the ATP Finals for a very long time.

On the other side, the 20-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner has risen to perfection on the men’s circuit. Incredibly, he has already won four ATP titles this season and entered the Top 10 Rankings for the first time. And now, he has replaced his idol Nadal in the Race of ATP Finals.

PARIS, FRANCE October 06. Winner Rafael Nadal of Spain is congratulated by Jannik Sinner of Italy at the net after the Quarter Final match of the singles competition on Court Philippe-Chatrier during the French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Nadal’s phenomenal streak of qualifying in every ATP Finals since 2004 has finally come to an end. Besides, even if the Spaniard had been eligible for the finals, he would not have competed in it this year.

But despite his absence, the 34-year-old has kept his place in the ATP Top 10 Rankings. It is a place that Nadal hasn’t left since April 2005. And most likely, he wouldn’t depart from the Top 10 until he puts down his racquet once and for all.

When will Nadal return on the tennis tour?

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At present, the record 13-time French Open winner is undergoing recovery for his left foot. Hence, he has not yet revealed where he will make his comeback.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 11, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his semi final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

But considering his history, Nadal has broken many improbable barriers, and this might be another one. Besides, he denied his retirement rumors, stating he still enjoys playing tennis.

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Hopefully, Nadal will recover 100% and make his return at the Australian Open next year. Let’s see if he can come back from a severe injury and claim a Grand Slam in 2022.

Watch this story: Rafael Nadal’s Top 5 Worst Injuries

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Purav Joshi

1357 articles

Purav Joshi is a Senior Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 1000 tennis articles.

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