Rafael Nadal is the most accomplished player of all time, having won 22 Major titles. Along with Novak Djokovic, Rafa is one of two players with multiple victories at all four competitions, setting numerous milestones in the world of tennis.
However, Nadal‘s resume is lacking one noteworthy accomplishment because he was unable to successfully defend his title outside of Paris. Rafa had won at least four Roland Garros championships in a row three times. The Spaniard, who has lost eight championships over the years, has never performed that well at other Majors.
2008’s Wimbledon saw Rafa win his first Major championship outside of Paris. Due to tendinitis in his knees, Nadal struggled at Roland Garros and was unable to compete at Wimbledon in 2009. Rafa won the Australian Open in 2009 and advanced to the quarterfinals the following year.
Nadal lost to Andy Murray, the fourth-ranked player in the world, 6-3, 7-6, and 3-0 before giving up because of right knee problems. The Spaniard recovered for the remainder of the season and won the final three Majors for the first time in his professional career.
Rafa would only go on to defend one title in 2011, and that was in Paris. Nadal advanced to the Wimbledon championship match and put his title defense one victory away. But he was defeated in four sets by Novak Djokovic. The same thing occurred in New York, where the Serb foiled the preparations of the Spaniard and won the third Major of the year.
In 2013, Nadal won the US Open again, but he missed the final Major of the year in 2014 due to a wrist injury. In 2017, Rafa won his third US Open after having to wait four years for another Major victory outside of Paris.
Twelve months later, in the quarterfinal, Nadal overcame Dominic Thiem after a struggle that lasted more than five hours. After falling behind Juan Martin del Potro 7-6, 6-2 in the semifinal, Rafa once more experienced right knee discomfort and had to retire.
Nadal won his fourth US Open title in 2019 but skipped the New York Open the following year.
Outside of Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal has not made a Major championship defense.
Since the pandemic began, Rafa has remained at home in Mallorca and hasn’t trained for a while.
Due to safety concerns and a lack of time to prepare for a hard-court Major after training on clay, Nadal made the decision to miss New York. At the Australian Open last year, Rafa won his eighth Major championship outside of Roland Garros, making Melbourne his home for the first time in 13 years!
In the championship match against Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal made a remarkable comeback from being down 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, and 40-0 to become the first player to win 21 Major titles! The Spaniard never had a chance to win this week’s title defense odds.
Since Wimbledon of last year, Rafa has been battling an abdominal injuries, losing form and winning very few matches. Despite giving his all in Melbourne, Nadal was unable to succeed due to yet another injury. After successfully defeating Jack Draper in the opening round, Rafa was up against Mackenzie McDonald.
In two hours and 32 minutes, the American defeated the Spaniard 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, handing Nadal his first Major defeat since 2016. Rafa suffered a left hip injury in the waning moments of the second set but refused to give up, giving the third set his all but losing it due to a late break.
McDonald amassed a lead of up to four strokes in the shortest points by hitting 14 aces and controlling his strokes well. He generated eight break opportunities, and he took five of them to eliminate the defending champion. The American got off to a fast start and used a double break to quickly increase his lead to 4-1.
In game six, Nadal recovered one break and set up a break opportunity at 4-5. For a score of 6-4 in 46 minutes, Mackenzie provoked Rafa’s error and preserved it. At the beginning of the second set, they traded breaks before McDonald delivered three excellent holds to keep the pressure on the opposition.
At 3-3, Nadal blew a game point and missed a half-volley, dropping serve and losing the match. In the eighth game, the American delivered an ace to secure the lead, and the Spaniard requested a medical timeout for his left hip.
Rafa continued to play and won game nine to extend the set. After Nadal‘s worn-out forehand in game 10, McDonald held at 30 to close out the set and establish a commanding lead after an hour and 49 minutes. In the third set, Rafa persevered and gave it his all, refusing to give up before the match was over.
At 4-4, he hit an ace on a break point and held for more excitement. At 5-5, Mackenzie hit a backhand down the line winner to secure the break, and she followed that up with a service winner in game 12 to take the lead.