Rafael Nadal

Nadal vs. Djokovic – Arguably The Greatest Rivalry In Tennis History

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have, arguably, the greatest rivalry in the history of tennis.

No two men have faced each other more in pro tennis than these two tennis titans.

Their meeting in the final of the 2019 Australian Open was their 53rd career professional match, with Djokovic holding the slight lead 28-25 in the head-to-head. These two legends have played in Grand Slam quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, at ATP Masters 1000 Series events, ATP 500 level events, the Olympics and in Davis Cup. Look at their complete head-to-head analysis, it’s amazing.

In Grand Slam events, the biggest stage in the tennis betting world, Nadal holds the head-to-head edge nine wins against six losses to Djokovic. Nadal won six of these Grand Slam confrontations on the clay at the French Open, although Djokovic did hand Nadal one of his two career Roland Garros losses in the quarterfinals of the event in 2015. Their first career meeting came at the 2006 French Open in the quarterfinals, Nadal winning by a 6-4, 6-4, retire scoreline as Djokovic was forced to quit with a back injury.

On hard courts at Grand Slams, Djokovic’s decisive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win in the 2019 Australian Open final gave him a 3-2 head-to-head advantage. Nadal won his two Grand Slam hard court matches with Djokovic at the US Open – in the 2013 final by a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 margin and also in the 2010 final by a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 margin. Djokovic won the 2011 U.S. Open final over Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 and also in the epic 2013 Australian Open final by a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in what tennis historian and “Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book author Steve Flink named the No. 7 match in the history of the sport.

The Nick Kyrgios-Popularized Underhand Serve Is Trail Blazing

by Rajagopalan Rohinee

It is said that rules are meant to be broken. In sports, however, there are a few rules that can seem like they have been broken, especially when followed to a T. Like employing an underarm serve and receiving flak for it even though it is permissible under the sport’s regulations.

Nick Kyrgios’ irreverent usage of the underarm serve in his matches – against Rafael Nadal at the Mexican Open in Acapulco, and against Dusan Lajovic at the Miami Open – raised a furore even to the extent of fingers being pointed at him for not respecting his opponent. This, despite Nadal pointedly clarifying that he was not referring to Kyrgios hitting an underarm serve against him.

Borrowing from an oft-used cricketing adage, Kyrgios’ actions, then, seem to be contravening the so-called ‘spirit of the game.’

To elaborate, in the cricketing parlance, nothing brings out the utilisation of this term more than the action of ‘Mankading.’ The term refers to a method of run-out by the bowler of the batter at the non-striker’s end while the batter is positioned out of the crease at the time of the ball being bowled. Former Indian allrounder Vinoo Mankad, who was the first to employ this tactic in a Test series against Australia back in 1947, went on to give it its name which has since come to be used in a denigrating manner in contemporary times.

Like the underarm serve, Mankading, too, is permissible within cricket’s laws and bye-laws except for provisions underlining its prescribed usage. But invariably, like in tennis, in the heat of the moment, using it as a means to score an advantage for the bowling team is construed as an attempt to subvert the ethics of sportsmanship or the aforementioned ‘spirit of the game’, creating an ironic redundancy.

Addressing the subject by dwelling on it, instead of casting it aside, is necessary to curb this existence of irony, especially in tennis.

While in cricket, the code of the sport being a ‘gentleman’s game’ curbs the need to use Mankading time and again, in matches, tennis for its own reasons, too, does not see much of its players take the underarm-serve route (at least in the highest rungs of the professional Tour). Excluding Kyrgios’ ingenuity in his timing of using an underarm serve, it has been seen as a ‘Hail Mary’ with its immediate purpose to help the server recover lost ground – mentally just as much as physically – in a match. Case in point: Michael Chang’s now-famous win over Ivan Lendl in the 1989 French Open final.

That the game is struck on whether the methodology should be applied after nearly three decades of it being the pivot in an all-important match, then, lays emphasis about the sport’s evolution. That regardless of the possibility of an underarm serve coming into play mid-match, it continues to be relegated to mental outposts when it comes to determining tactical unique selling propositions (USPs) merits introspection from the game’s stakeholders. Rather than it being an aspersion on a player choosing to exercise it as a viable option.

In this context, the potentiality of a player serving underarm closely resembles the SABR – the much-lauded and the equally-disparaged Sneak Attack By Roger – pioneered by Roger Federer back in 2015. The Swiss’ manoeuvre of coming to the net even as his opponent was preparing to serve with the ball toss meant that he put the other player on the backfoot even before the ball had been directed from his racquet. Federer’s inventiveness fell in line with the game’s rules but ruffled many feathers, including that of Boris Becker who was then coaching Novak Djokovic.
In these following years, Federer has made use of the strategy frugally partly thanks to his rivals have also become conscious that it could be greeting them in a literal, sneaky manner. This has also led to a lessening of the frenzy surrounding the shot such as it was back when it first came to be a part of tennis’ lexicon. In other words, people got used to it.

So, if tennis’ widespread audiences could adapt to seeing a style of play that was admittedly trail-blazing, rightfully the underarm serve by virtue of being around longer should have seen a similar flexibility. Perhaps, the only way to get it done now is by making it more common, more visible thereby normalising a facet that ought to have always been thus deemed.

Indian Wells Kicks Off 30th Year of ATP Masters 1000 Tennis

The 2019 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California ushers in the 30th year of the ATP Tour branding these elite events as “Masters 1000” events. Remember when they were called “The Super Nine?”
Indian Wells is one of seven of these such events that have been part of this elite status since the start of the modern-day ATP Tour in 1990, along with Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati and Paris.

Both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are vying for a record-breaking sixth Indian Wells title and Djokovic will also be looking to equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles. Nadal also seeks a sixth trophy overall in the desert, but he has only won three singles at Indian Wells to go with two doubles titles.

Last March in Indian Wells, Novak Djokovic lost his opener to 109th-ranked qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan. Djokovic returns in 2019 as the world No. 1 and champion of the last three major tournaments and two of the last three ATP Masters 1000 events. Djokovic has not played since winning his seventh Australian Open title on January 27.

Federer held three championship points to make it six titles in Indian Wells before losing to Juan Martin del Potro in 2018. Federer enters the event on a hot streak after winning the 100th title of his career in Dubai on March 2 defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. Federer has defeated 50 different opponents for his 100 titles — 25 of whom are now retired. A fascinating stat regarding Federer and his chief rival Nadal – this marks the first time these two are playing at the same ATP Tour event (non Grand Slam event) for the first time since the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. Federer is on a five-match win streak against Nadal, including a 6-2, 6-3 victory at 2017 Indian Wells. The two rivals could meet in the semi-finals on 16 March.

Australian Open Proves There Is Still A Ways To Go For The “Changing Of The Guard”

by Rajagopalan Rohinee

As the 2019 Australian Open concludes, one of the biggest upsets of the tournament was that of Roger Federer. The two-time defending champion’s fourth-round defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas set the ball rolling anew about changing of the guard and how Federer’s – and his other peers’ – time had come to an end.

Yet, as it turned out in the days after Federer’s upset, the old guard remained as they were – with Novak Djokovic defeating Rafael Nadal for the men’s title – even as the youngsters kept dropping off, one-by-one as the draw narrowed further. Until eventually, the two others who reached the penultimate stage of the tournament – Stefanos Tsitsipas and Lucas Pouille – got quite a lesson as to how they were expected to play at that point.

The concept of changing of the guard, too, has taken a lunging step backwards at this point. To that end, it is following the usual chain of events that usually transpire in an event. Each time that one among Federer, Nadal and Djokovic loses – and a Next Gen player wins – in a tournament, or a tournament; the narrative repeats itself. But, the moment any of them wins an event, the younger players get relegated to the backburner even as the legendary status of these players is cemented further. As such, suffice to say, the idea that there is a change of guard happening in the upper echelons of the game will soon reappear as the season progresses from beyond the Australian swing. And, at this point, it has honestly begun to get slightly tiresome.

All this, however, is not to say that the youngsters are not making their way through. But that there is an attempt to conflate expectations and reality, without considering the time factor needed to merge the two into a single entity. For example: in the last few years, Alexander Zverev has been a steady presence in the top ATP rankings with a slew of titles backing his credentials. Yet, his results in the majors have been disappointing – although not for want of trying.

Much as Zverev himself ponders about the dichotomy of his results otherwise in the ATP events and at the majors, for the numerous others who have directed their scrutiny at him, the takeaway ought to be that not keep harping on it and rather, let him figure it out for himself with his team. The same case can be made for Hyeon Chung – who after a surprisingly great run at the 2018 Australian Open has been laid low with injuries and inconsistent performances – and more recently, for Stefanos Tsitsipas.

In case of the Greek, the highs after his win over Federer – and Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-final – came cascading down in his lopsided 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 semi-final loss to Nadal. In a curious admission about the result, Tsitsipas observed in the post-match press conference, “I don’t know, I feel very strange. I feel happy with my performance in this tournament, but at the same time I feel disappointed. I feel like I could do a bit better today. I don’t know. That’s how I felt. But it’s a very, very weird feeling. Almost felt like just couldn’t play better. I don’t know.”

The rest of his press conference followed along the same lines with Tsitsipas outlining Nadal’s game-plan during the match and his inability to deal with the tactics employed. As far as analysis went, it was needed. But considering that Tsitsipas had faced Nadal twice before – as recently as in 2018 – and had lost both matches to him, he needed to have a strategy worked out to cover all his problematic areas against the Spaniard. Most importantly, as befitting the ranks of a player ushering in a new era, he needed to adjust his strategy right there, on the court, when the ones he had been employing were not working effectively against Nadal.

At the moment, this is the biggest differentiator between these multiple-time champions and the new players. The older players’ acumen in manipulating their tactics to put their opponents on the back-foot, then, is not something that can be gained in a match or two. It takes years to put together and even then, it is not perfect at all times.
But, in case of losses, it is the experience-wrought capability to reset their games that has made them so dominant, year-on-year and season-after-season. Even for Federer, despite his loss which has not been his first, and which will not be his last either.

World No. 1s Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep Win Rogers Cup Titles

The world’s No. 1-ranked players each outlasted their challengers in Canada this week, as Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep took home the Rogers Cup singles titles.

Nadal won his record-extending 33rd ATP Masters 1000 title with a 6-2, 7-6(4), defeat of Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto. Nadal’s fourth Rogers Cup triumph ended an inspired breakout performance from the young Greek, who turned 20 on Sunday after a week in which he defeated four Top-10 seeds in Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

Halep won a rematch of the French Open championship, defeating American Sloane Stephens, 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4, in Montreal. It was Halep’s second Rogers Cup title in the last three years, while the No. 3-ranked Stephens reached the Rogers Cup final for the first time, after having made the semifinals last year in Toronto to jump-start her summer that culminated with winning the US Open championship.

The world’s best players now converge on Cincinnati, as the US Open Series continues with the Western & Southern Open. A deep women’s draw includes two-time Cincinnati champion Serena Williams, Stephens, Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, Danielle Collins, 16-year old Amanda Anisimova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The men’s field features 2013 Cincinnati finalist John Isner, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Jack Sock, Frances Tiafoe and Mackenzie McDonald.

ESPN2 picks up its coverage from Cincinnati on Thursday, beginning at 1 p.m., and will carry matches through Sunday’s finals, beginning at 2 p.m. ET. Tennis Channel begins its weeklong coverage with Monday’s first round. See the full summer TV schedule here.

Novak Djokovic Return To Top Can Revitalise Men’s Tennis

Nobody would have begrudged seeing Roger Federer lift his eighth Wimbledon title last year, nor would anyone have felt the Swiss master didn’t deserve to hit Slam number 20 in Australia in January. In a similar fashion, we sat back and marvelled at Rafael Nadal taking his 11th title on the clay of Roland Garros in May.

However, while we are lucky to live in an era of greats in the men’s game, there was something processionary about the Grand Slams in recent times, as if we were simply waiting to crown Federer or Nadal, even before the tournament started.

Last month at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic served us a timely reminder that he too should be mentioned among the all-time greats. His 13th Slam was wrapped up with the minimum of fuss against Kevin Anderson, but it was the semi-final, a five-set epic against Nadal, that really showed us how much we missed the unflappable Serb.

Bookmakers were quick to act on Djokovic seemingly putting those injury woes behind him and making his way back to the top, with 888sport putting him as favourite in the 2018 outright US Open odds. The Serb comes in at 11/4 at the moment, with Nadal and Federer both at 7/2. That’s pretty tight, suggesting the odds-setters feel anyone of the three could win. Indeed, any suspicion of a niggle or slight injury, and those odds could change.
Odds show competitiveness is back

However, seeing three players right at the top of the betting markets is good news for the men’s game. We must remember that that in the last two Slams, Nadal was odds-on for the French Open and Federer was a very short price (around 13/8) to win Wimbledon. Having Djokovic back adds another dimension to the elite level of the game.
Of course, nobody is ruling out a push from players outside this celebrated trio: Alexander Zverev, a player who keeps promising to fully bloom, is priced at 9/1, Del Potro is available at 10/1. Andy Murray, whose injury problems are hopefully behind him, is also available at 10/1, but match sharpness may elude the former world number one.

Put simply, the upcoming US Open (27th August – 9th September) feels like the first Grand Slam in a while where we do not have an overwhelming favourite from the outset. Having Djokovic, Federer and Nadal all fit will also open up some subplots: Can Federer extend his record of Slams to 21? Can Nadal rein Federer in by winning his 18th? Can Djokovic equal Pete Sampras’ tally of 14 titles and regain his place at the top of the game.

‘Big 4’ could return to dominance
For all the talk of dominance of individuals over the past 15 years, it is also the rivalry within the ‘Big 4’ that has made men’s tennis, at times, unmissable. You’ll have to go back to 2012 to see the last time when the ‘Big 4’ each won a Grand Slam in the same season, but it was also an era when it was also incredibly difficult to predict who would come out on top, Nadal at Roland Garros excepted.

With Djokovic seemingly back to full fitness and, hopefully, Murray also getting healthy, we could be in for a treat over the next couple of years. Wimbledon sewed the seeds of some great rivalries to be re-established, let’s hope we, as fans, reap the benefit, starting in New York in a few weeks.

The Top Five Men’s Players At 2018 Wimbledon

With the most enthralling sporting event of the year already underway in the United Kingdom, tennis fans from all over the world are tuned in to watch the greatest players of our time fight it out at the biggest stage in the world – Wimbledon.

Tennis continues to attract spectators from all corners of the world, who are drawn to the game due to its fast pace, as well as the wide range of betting opportunities it offers. Betting on Wimbledon has become more accessible in recent years through the creation of simplified manuals, such as the Wimbledon betting guide 2018, which breaks down the essentials of betting on the coveted event. To know how to place your bets efficiently, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 men tennis players with the highest chances of taking the trophy home this year.

Roger Federer
The most decorated player active in the game, Roger Federer is currently ranked No. 2 in the world and has won 8 Wimbledon titles till now. Federer is defending the title this year and if he wins the tournament, he would go on to create a new world record of most number of Wimbledon titles by a player.

Though his loss in the final match of Halle could be concern for some people, truth remains that he has managed to surprise everyone on the grass court. UNIQLO’S New Global Brand Ambassador, Federer supposed to play against players like Lajovic, Anderson and Cilic in the initial rounds and can easily reach the finals to claim the title.

Rafael Nadal
Best known for his performance on clay court in French Opens, Nadal is ranked world No.1. With 17 grand slam titles, he is among the top contenders for the trophy this year. He has previously won the Wimbledon trophy in the year 2008 and 2010. Though his line-up of matches is not easy, considering the tenacious person he is, reaching the finals would not be surprising on the Spaniard’s part.

Novak Djokovic
The Serbian player is currently ranked No.17 in the world. He has about 12 grand slam titles to his name out of which 3 are Wimbledon trophies for the years 2011, 2014, and 2015. Known for covering the entire length and breadth of the court well, it’s been some time that Djokovic has lifted the trophy.

His recent performances have been up to the mark as we saw him in the finals of the Queen’s Club Championship. His matches have been lined up against Brit Edmand, Thiem and Alex Zverev. No doubt he has a tough competition to face, his skills like accurate groundstrokes present him as a promising player.

Marin Cilic
One of the more experienced players, Cilic is a strong contender for the 2018 Wimbledon. After winning the Queen’s Club Championship last month, the player is in his best form for the tournament and is confident than ever. His serving skills have helped him whenever he has found himself in a tough spot. Moreover, with opponents like Dimitrov in the initial rounds, he would have to face Federer which would be a much anticipated match.

Alexander Zverev

At only 21 years of age, Alexander is one of the youngest player in this Wimbledon season. Despite the German has not experienced many grand slams, this season’s trophy could very well be is first grand slam title. He has a strong double handed backhand which would come to his aid.

Alexander, to the surprise of everyone, has previously defeated mighty giants like Djokovic and Roger Federer, which all the more increase his chances of clinching the trophy.

Will It Be The Same Old Story In Wimbledon Men’s Singles In 2018?

Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal have won the last six major championships. Both are the overwhelming Wimbledon betting favorites for the men’s singles title – and who can argue?

No one.

Federer has won eight times at the All England Club and has played in a total of 11 singles finals. Nadal has won Wimbledon twice – most notably his 2008 final 10 years ago against Federer – and has played in five finals. However, he has not advanced past the fourth round at the event since 2011. With razor-thin margins separating the two players, could this lack of reserve confidence be the different between a point or two if these two were to meet in a climatic final and 10-year-anniversary reprise of their epic 2008 Wimbledon final classic? Federer appears to be as fine-tuned as he has ever been on the comfort of the Wimbledon grass. The only difference between this year and others is his new Uniqlo tennis attire.

While Federer and Nadal are the strong favorites to win the title, Brad Gilbert of ESPN said he believes that there are five real contenders. Outside of the maestros from Switzerland and Spain, others are Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner and Novak Djokovic.

Del Potro is the surprise pick to win the tournament from ESPN commentator and former U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe. The Argentine is a former semifinalist at this event in 2013 where he lost a tight five-setter to Djokovic. He also captured Olympic bronze at the All England Club at the 2012 Olympics, extending Federer to a 19-17 third set in a four-hour-26-minute epic semifinal before beating Djokovic for bronze. Perhaps most importantly, del Potro is not intimidated against Nadal or Federer.

Perhaps the only other real contender for the title is hard-serving John Isner. The former Univerity of Georgia standout is into the second week of Wimbledon for the first time in his career and other than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, is perhaps the most famous Wimbledon player by virtue of his incredulous 11-hour, 70-68 win over Nico Mahut in the 2010 first round.

Isner is playing the best tennis of his career this year having won the biggest tournament of his career at the Miami Open in April. Like del Potro, Isner is not intimidated by playing the top players. Many – except Isner and his inner circle – may have forgotten that he nearly beat Federer on the Centre Court grass at the 2012 Olympics before falling 6-4, 7-6(5) in an incredibly close contest that is was much closer than the score indicated, with a missed sitter forehand and a let cord basically being the difference between the two players.’s

Djokovic is the unknown entity of men’s tennis. While he is regarded as one of the all-time greats with 12 major titles – including all four majors including Wimbledon in 2011, 2014 and 2015 – he has not won a major title since the French Open in 2016 and has struggled physically with injuries and mentally with concentration, off-court distractions and motivation. You can’t count him out of the conversation, but one could argue that of all the other contenders for the title, Djokovic may have the least amount of deep hunger for the title. There are glimpses of his past form and fire but it is not consistently there and among punters, will not receive a lot of attention in Wimbledon betting

Rafael Nadal, Now Proven To Be Human On Clay, Seeks Redemption In Rome

So Rafael Nadal is human on clay!

One week after the “King of Clay” showed vulnerability in his quarterfinal loss to Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open, Nadal will look to regain his winning ways in Rome at the Italian Championships. Nadal has won in Rome seven times, less than his 11 titles each in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and his 10 titles at Roland Garros, but, by any other normal professional standards, is amazing.

Against Thiem in Madrid, Nadal had his 21-match and 50-set clay-court winning streaks come to an end. To boot, he fell from the top ranking by not winning the title, surrendering the top spot to Roger Federer. However, Nadal is still 14-1 in matches and 30-2 in sets on clay this year. He will return the No. 1 ranking on 21 May if he captures his the title at the Foro Italico. While Nadal has won a record seven times in Rome, he has not won there since 2013. He lost in the quarterfinals in 2015, 2016 and 2017 after falling to Djokovic in the 2014 final. Rome is the only clay-court event where Nadal has made four consecutive appearances without a title.

Nadal faces the strongest ATP World Tour field of the season with 18 of the Top 20 players vying for the title. Four-time champion Novak Djokovic and defending champion Alexander Zverev are former champs in the field. Djokovic continues to struggle this year and is only 6-6 in 2018 and seeking his first quarterfinal of the season as he continues his comeback from a right elbow injury. The former world No. 1 is responsible for 19% of Nadal’s losses on clay, earning three of seven clay-court victories over his Spanish rival in Rome.

Zverev, the world No. 3, won ATP Masters 1000 titles last year in Rome and Montreal and is coming in on a high after defeating Thiem in the final of Madrid. Zverev’s serve, in particular, was impressive in Madrid, not losing serve and barely losing points on his deliveries. If he can keep up that success in Rome – and avoid mental and physical fatigue – he will be a tough out.

Thiem beat Nadal in the quarterfinals of Rome last year and combined with his win over Nadal last week in Madrid – and two semifinal showings at the French Open – make him and Zverev the next two betting favorites in Rome – and in Paris – other than Nadal. With three wins over Nadal on clay in his career, Thiem is one of three men with three wins over Nadal on clay, joining Djokovic (7) and Gaston Gaudio (3).

World No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro is 22-5 in 2018, highlighted by his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells, where he saved three championship points to defeat Federer. Despite his high credentials and South American upbringing on the clay in Argentina, del Potro has not reached a semifinal on a clay court since Madrid in 2012. Kevin Anderson, the world No. 8, and John Isner, the world No. 9, are at career-high rankings following impressive starts to their seasons. The 6-foot-8 Anderson, the 2017 US Open runner-up, reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal last week in Madrid after winning his fourth ATP title in New York. The 6-foot-10 Isner defeated del Potro and Zverev to capture his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami.

Absent From Indian Wells and Miami, Rafael Nadal Targets Clay-Court Season

Much to his disappointment, Rafael Nadal will miss out on the Indian Wells and Miami Open tournaments due to injury. Nadal made the announcement on Friday, March 2nd, the day after he withdrew from his first match in the Mexican Open. After suffering an injury pre-match at Acapulco, Nadal said that he needed more time to recover. He will take a month off, missing at least two major tournaments. Apparently, the injury is in the same area as a previous injury that Nadal picked up at the Australian Open last year.

“The injury I suffered in Acapulco before starting the tournament is the same area as the one suffered in Melbourne,” said Nadal.

Nadal was leading by two sets to one against Cilic at the Australian Open in Melbourne. At the end of the third set, he fist-pumped the air and cried out in joy as he took the lead. Yet Nadal struggled to keep pace in the fourth set and went down 4-1 before calling a medical timeout and receiving treatment on the court. Defeated, Nadal retired in the final set, leaving the crowd wondering what had become of the then world number one.

The following day, Nadal’s team made an announcement that the tennis legend had a serious injury. An MRI scan showed a grade 1 strained iliopsoas, a muscle of the inner hip. Nadal missed the Davis Cup but was expected to make a triumphant return at the Mexican Open on February 24th. Though Nadal did make the trip to Mexico, he withdrew before his first match. Tennis may require the wits of poker, but it also requires a top physical form, and Rafael was not up to the job.

The Mexican Open was the 8th straight tournament that Rafael Nadal has pulled out. Last month, he lost out on his number one ranking to Roger Federer, who went ahead to win more matches and titles. Federer now sits ahead as the world number one, just 600 points ahead of Nadal. He will need to make the semifinals in the Indian Wells to maintain his lead.

Due to the hip injury at the Mexican Open, which seems related to his original injury at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal will also miss the Indian Wells, which is now in progress, as well as the Miami Open. Both are hard-court Masters 1000 events, the highest tier below Grand Slams.

“I won’t be able to play in Miami or Indian Wells as I need to recover,” said the world number two.

Last year, Nadal lost out to Roger Federer in the fourth round at Indian Wells, and again to Federer in the final of the Miami Open. As it stands, there will be no highly anticipated rematches at this year’s events. Federer has expressed disappointment that Nadal won’t make the tournaments.

“Rafael Nadal deserves this place, he had an amazing season. I am disappointed that he is injured and that he is not here for the tournament,” said Federer at the Indian Wells.

The pair has played each other 34 times since 2004. Nadal was the winner in 23 of those meetings, though Federer has more Grand Slam titles and now holds the number one spot, at least until Nadal comes back from injury.

The Indian Wells started on Monday, March 5th. Federer won his rain-delayed first round while Novak Djokovic took an unexpected early exit. The Miami Open, however, starts on March 19th.

Nadal’s injuries and problems are a growing concern for fans and tennis experts. He suffered the same injury at the Mexican Open as he did at the Australian Open. Last time, Nadal received anti-inflammatory treatment and physiotherapy for the injury, and so it is assumed he will be undergoing similar treatment this time alongside a game or two of poker from what we hear.

Although much of Nadal’s focus will be on recovery right now, he is likely upset that the injury has slowed down his season already. After such a solid performance last year, Nadal would have wanted to carry on his form early this year. Aside from rest and physiotherapy, Nadal is known to be an avid poker player and has previously enjoyed games of poker at the Indian Wells as well as the usual tennis tournaments. He is also a known Texas Hold ‘Em player who is said to have an aggressive style.

Although no confirmation has been made as to when Rafael Nadal will be back in action, he is now preparing for the clay-court season, which begins in April. The Monte-Carlo Masters on April 14th may be the first tournament that we see Rafael back in action. Usually, this is the first date on his calendar for clay matches.

Nadal has also confirmed that he will be playing at the Queens pre-Wimbledon tournament, which he won 10 years ago in 2008 — one of Nadal’s best years to date, as he also won Wimbledon as well as the French Open. Unfortunately, the chances of seeing Nadal at the Miami Open are about as slim as the world ending via a solar flare, which according to the 888 Poker infographic is pretty much impossible.

As Rafael Nadal’s career progresses, the 31-year old, who has an impressive 16 Grand Slam titles to his name, may have to pick his tournaments more carefully and play fewer games to stay strong and win the competitions that he does play in. It’s an approach taken by rival Roger Federer, who now enjoys a lighter season. Nadal suffered a minor wrist injury in 2016, but this hip injury appears to be a recurring concern.

Many tennis stars of Nadal’s generation are starting to show signs of strain. Thirty-year-old Andy Murray had hip surgery earlier in the year, Djokovic has been affected by recent injuries and Stan Wawrinka will also miss the Indian Wells and Miami Open. Still, Nadal is one of the top tennis players in the world. Only last year, he won the French Open without losing a set! He should be able to take the top spot again when he gets back into his stride. Either that or he’ll have to find an alternative career as a poker player! I wonder if he’s any good at Omaha Hi-Lo.