Rafael Nadal has exited the top 10 for the first time since 2005 (Image: Getty)
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Rafael Nadal has officially left the world’s top 10 for the first time since he made his debut in April 2005. The Spaniard’s record 18-year streak was forced to come to an end after injury prevented him from playing Indian Wells , where he was last year’s runner-up. But Nadal is already said to be taking big strides towards a comeback, meaning he could quickly re-enter the elite rankings group.
Nadal’s incredible 18-year run inside the top 10 has officially ended today, with the Spaniard now sitting at No 13 in the world. It marks the first time that the 36-year-old had exited the top 10 since he made his debut on April 18 2005 after winning the first of his 12 Barcelona titles.
He will also stay outside of the elite group in the rankings for at least the rest of the month, having also pulled out of the upcoming Miami Masters. But the good news is that Nadal could get himself right back inside the top 10 by mid-April if his current comeback schedule continues to go to plan following some positive updates.
When the Spaniard withdrew from the ‘sunshine double’, he confessed he had no idea when he’d return and said his recovery process was taking a long time. However, Nadal finally seems to be on track and meeting the deadlines for an expected comeback on his favourite surface – the clay.
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Rafael Nadal has been training at his academy (Image: Instagram @rafaelnadal)
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been sharing footage of himself training on the dirt at his Rafa Nadal Academy in recent weeks, and those close to Nadal have also reported good news. Retired pro and Barcelona Open tournament director David Ferrer is the latest to provide a positive update on his countryman’s return.
The former world No 3 recently told Cope that Nadal had upped his training to five days a week and was “confident” that he would return in time for the Monte Carlo Masters, with main draw action starting on April 9. Nadal would also then go on to play in Barcelona – the tournament now headed up by Ferrer.
“I have faith and confidence that he can get to the tour on the ground well and, above all, that he can be in Barcelona,” the tournament director said. Ferrer also admitted that he thought Nadal’s sights would be firmly set on the French Open, and that he knew he needed to get some match play as soon as possible to have a chance at winning more Majors.
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Rafael Nadal is expected to make a comeback in Monte Carlo (Image: Getty)
He continued: “It’s an important year for him, a year where starting in Monte Carlo is going to be good because I think his primary objective is to win Roland Garros and more Grand Slams than any tennis player. Rafa understands and knows that for that he also needs match rhythm and the sooner he has it, the better.”
Ferrer isn’t the only clay-court tournament director to provide hope of an imminent Nadal comeback either, as the Monte Carlo Masters boss said Nadal was the first to sign up. “Rafa was the first [player] to be registered. He really wants to play at the Monte Carlo Masters and is giving himself every chance to take part in the tournament he’s so fond of,” David Massey recently revealed.
If he is able to play in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Nadal will have a very good chance at returning to the top 10 as he is defending no points at either event having skipped both last year. It means he can only build on his ranking, as he now has 2,715 points to his name.
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