2022 has been an absolute renaissance for Rafael Nadal. After skipping 2 US Open’s and a Wimbledon , during the biggest worldwide pandemic in 100 years, Nadal is a man experiencing a rebirth.
After a turbulent decade at Wimbledon, this is the third furthest he has ever been at Wimbledon in a decade. In 2019, he pulled off the unthinkable, but fell short to none other than Roger Federer. In that years edition, Federer held championship points against the eventual winner, Novak Djokovic, who finished the affair 13-12 in the fifth set.
In 2018, Nadal, as the then number 2 ranked player in the world behind Roger Federer, was dispatched by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of Wimbledon, in a match which is considered a legacy match in their rivalry. Hot off winning Roland Garros a fortnight prior, Nadal came into that match with plenty of confidence over a down Djokovic.Novak came into that match on the quest to win his first grand slam since 2016. The leadup to that major was one of the most turbulent times in Djokovic’s career, as he spiraled down the rankings. That very year, he lost to Hyeon Chung at his spiritual home, the Australian Open, as well as shock losses to Marco Ceccinatto at the French Open, and Taro Daniel at Indian Wells.
However, that is history, and Nadal is coming into this match with a different sort of hunger. This season, Nadal has a very big chance to make history, to win the surface slam for only the second time in Open era history. This a feat where a player wins a major on all surfaces in a year. The last person to achieve this feat? Rafael Nadal in 2010, the year he completed a career grand slam.
That season he was only 24. We were in the 2000s, but now we are in the 2020s.
Nadal is still as strong as ever, beating players he should have no right to beat at his age.
And what a sight to behold.