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Rafael Nadal is done: Former World No. 1 bugged by injuries or just past his prime?

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Rafael Nadal in 2010 (Photo courtesy: PictFactory/Wikimedia Commons)

Back in 2013, the talk in tennis was how Rafael Nadal can recover from chronic knee issues and how it will affect his play in the ATP tour. About three years later not much has been said about Nadal’s knee issues but it’s obvious that he has never recovered from the injury.

It is also well documented that Nadal has struggled on the mental aspect of the game admitting that he has lost his confidence on the court. Aside from knee issues, Nadal has suffered various injuries the past three ATP seasons.

“The only uncertainty remaining is his knee. How will he hold up physically? His overall fitness and game has returned to its top level. But under pressure the knee is questionable,” Patrick Mouratoglou wrote in a Yahoo Sports article on June 2013.

Nadal is coming off a disappointing 2016 Australian Open stint after getting eliminated early, in the first round of the men’s singles by compatriot Fernando Verdasco.

Nadal lost in full five sets and had the two sets to one lead before completely collapsing in the final two sets, which made the loss even more painful for the former World No. 1.

With the recent first round loss in a Grand Slam tournament, the talk of Nadal being done in the sport has been a hot topic again.

This is similar to the talks in previous years when Nadal fell in the early rounds of the Grand Slam tournaments.

“Surprise of surprises, it was Nadal’s back that suddenly seized on him, turning the final into a somewhat farcical affair that dragged on despite the inevitability of the result,” Juan Jose Vallejo of Rolling Stone wrote on January 2015 about Nadal’s performance in the championship round of the 2014 Australian Open where Nadal lost to Stanislas Wawrinka, 3-6 2-6 6-3 3-6.

In the 2015 Australian Open, Nadal had another early exit getting eliminated in the quarterfinals of the competition.

“The Rafael Nadal we’ve known, loved and watched dominate the sport of tennis for 10 years is gone. And he’s not coming back,” Chris Chase of USA Today Sports wrote on July 2015.

After Nadal’s performance in the opening Grand Slam tournament of the 2016 season, it appears the Spanish pro is still not over his mental and physical issues.

With the recent loss, Nadal is now officially out of the elite players in tennis as rivals Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer continue to march in the deeper rounds of the major tournaments.

Can Nadal still recover in his tennis career? With the injury issues, can Nadal still win another Grand Slam title?

Nadal will be one of the wildcards in the upcoming 2016 Argentina Open set from Feb. 6 to 14.

With quality opponents like John Isner, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Dominic Thiem and Verdasco all playing in the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires, Nadal has
a chance to show the tennis world that he’s not yet done in the sport.

Photo courtesy: PictFactory/Wikimedia Commons

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