Tennis great Rafael Nadal has slipped out of the ATP top 10 for the first time since 2005 as he continues to regain his fitness.
The Spaniard has not played competitively since the Australian Open and was forced to skip Indian Wells last week as he continues to recover from a hip injury, meaning he’s now fallen down to world No. 13.
The 22-time grand slam champion spent 912 weeks in the top 10 – a record for the men’s game. Current world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz was only one year old when Nadal first broke into the top 10.
However, Nadal’s stay outside of the top rankings may be short lived, with the 36-year-old eyeing a return in time for the clay court season.
He has posted multiple pictures and videos on social media in recent weeks, showing him practicing on clay courts.
Current men's singles ATP rankings
If fit, Nadal will likely be the favorite for the French Open which begins on May 28, and he will be focused on a return for the warm-up event in Monte Carlo next month.
Current world No. 4 Casper Ruud said he would not be surprised if Nadal lifts his 15th title at Roland Garros this year, despite all his injury issues.
“The only thing that’s probably on his mind these days is just to be fit, be healthy and be ready for Roland Garros,” Ruud told Eurosport.
Nadal’s current injury is the latest in a long list that have hampered him throughout his career, with his fitness woes only becoming more frequent over the past two years.
It’s a testament to his grit and determination that he’s still operating, and feared, at the highest level.