Rafael Nadal – An Amazing 2019
It’s absolutely incredible that we’re talking about Rafael Nadal in 2019 as the year end number one player in the world. He has now tied both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for finishing at the top a total of five times. Also, he now owns 19 Grand Slams, and is just one shy from Roger’s record breaking 20. So why is it incredible?
Well, it has been well documented how much of a beating Rafa Nadal’s body takes from his style of play. He’s been plagued by knee injuries much of his career and experts agreed that he would not last past the age of 25. However, here we are in 2019, he’s 33 and he we won both the French Open and US Open, establishing his dominance for much of the year.
Let’s look at how his year started. Nadal started the year strong, reaching the final of the Australian Open, before running into world number one at the point Djokovic. Djokovic beat him easily in his preferred Australian Open surface, where he has dominated for much of the decade. So, there was no surprise there. Rafa usually begins his season on the clay where he historically cleans up. However, plagued by an injury, as usual, he debuted at Monte Carlo where he has won 10 times and was beaten by a very inspired Fabio Fognini. He then loses to Thiem at Barcelona and Tsitsipas in Madrid, both times in the semis. At this point, I had counted him out as a favorite at the French. However, all of a sudden, at the Italian Open, he looked like Rafa Nadal again, and stormed into the final and beat Djokovic to take the title. He’d do it again at the French Open, winning a record 12 title there, taking care of Thiem in the final.
He played well at Wimbledon, reaching the semifinals losing to his nemesis Federer. His summer was again plagued by injury and did not make a showing until Cincinnati where he took the title beating Medvedev easily in the final. This set up his amazing run at the US Open, where we were treated to a classic final. Medveved lost the first two sets before storming back to win the next two and almost taking the fifth. Not to be though, Nadal would regain his composure and take the US Open, pretty much consolidating his number one ranking. It has been an amazing year for Nadal. I expect him to continue his fine form under the watchful eye of Carlos Moya. Expect to see Nadal tie Federer’s record at the French Open next year.