For Indian Wells, Rafael Nadal confronts a difficult task.

Embed from Getty Images

At the age of 18, Rafael Nadal entered the top-10 in April 2005 after winning the ATP 500 tournament in Barcelona the day before. This earned him a spot in the elite group. Since then, Rafa has never dropped out of the top 10, creating one of the most remarkable feats in tennis history and enjoying more than 900 consecutive top-10 weeks!

The 36-year-old Spaniard, who must defend 600 points from the 2017 Indian Wells final, will likely fall outside the top 10 in March for the first time in 18 years. Rafa dropped 500 points from Acapulco and is now ranked seventh in the current ATP rankings.

After Indian Wells, he will drop out of the top-10 with 600 less points, ending his remarkable streak. In Melbourne, Nadal had a left hip injury that cost him about 2000 points and ended his top-10 hopes. Before of the opening Masters 1000 competition of the season, the Spaniard withdrew from Doha and Dubai and is still absent from the practice court.

Rafa will make a decision regarding Indian Wells once he has taken more tests, but it’s unlikely that he will compete for the championship there given all of the problems he has faced since last July. After Wimbledon, a 22-time Major champion played just 13 games, winning five and losing eight.

For the first time since 2009, Rafa dropped four straight games after losing the opening match of the US Open. Nadal lost both of his matches in the United Cup at the opening of the new season from a set up, so things did not get better.

Rafa arrived in Melbourne without any form after months of injury struggles and a subsequent injury against McDonald at Rod Laver Arena.

After Indian Wells, Rafael Nadal will have fewer than 3000 points.

The Spanish was defeated by the American in straight sets, marking Rafa’s earliest Major defeat since 2016.

To reach the top, the American broke five times out of eight chances while only losing serve once. In the first two games of the tournament, he got off to a fast start and defeated the defending champion 4-1 in less than 20 minutes. In game six, Nadal broke to cut the deficit, and McDonald saved a break point at 5-4 to seal the victory.

Early on in the second set, there were back-to-back breaks, and at 3-3, Rafa was broken once more. In the eighth game, the American delivered an ace to secure the lead, and the Spanish requested a medical timeout for his left hip.

Rafa held in game nine to extend the set despite what appeared to be a struggle after leaving the court to obtain treatment. After Nadal‘s forehand mistake at 5-4, McDonald won the set and got closer to the finish line. Rafa persevered and gave his all despite having trouble running or hitting a backhand in the third set.

At 4-4, he hit an ace on a break point and held to stay in the game. At 5-5, Mackenzie evened the match. She then won the following point with a backhand down the line. In game 12, the American won with a service point to put an end to the Spaniard’s reign.