A five set defeat to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon ended Rafael Nadal’s season in 2012. A serious knee injury forced Rafa off the tour for over 7 months.
The Australian Open came too soon for the Spaniard who opted to begin his year at the Chile Open in early February. His week ended as runner-up to Horacio Zeballos having lead 7-6 in the final.
Rafa continued to play on the clay, winning back to back events in Sao Paulo and Acapulco (which was on the clay then).
This had meant Rafa would head to Indian Wells without any hard-court tennis warm up events. The last time he had played a hard court match was almost twelve months in Miami when he defeated Tsonga in the quarter finals.
Indian Wells was absolutely fantastic, he defeated Berdych, Federer and Del Potro in his first hard court tournament in almost twelve months on one of the biggest stages outside the four majors.
He opted against Miami to give himself a rest following a busy few weeks of tennis seeing him win 18 of his first 19 matches and winning 3 titles!
Monte Carlo is of course remembered for that incredible performance Novak Djokovic in the final to de-thrown Rafa for the first time in eight years at the Monte Country Club but he had a pretty emphatic clay court season!
He won Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros heading to Wimbledon on a 22 match winning streak and undefeated in seven matches in that time against top ten opponents.
Wimbledon didn’t go to plan with a first round defeat to Steve Darcis but it wasn’t a major surprise having not practiced on the grass for some time.
That didn’t knock Nadal at all… he continued to amaze with his reaction and how he steps up.
He ticked the pre-US Open Masters doubles off his list winning in Cincinnati and Montreal before winning the US Open for the first time since 2010!
After winning against Djokovic in New York he didn’t win a title again in 2013 but made at least the semi-finals of every event he played. Rafa was of course runner-up in the season ending finals in London to Djokovic but it was an immense year!
When all is said and done we will look back at what legacy people left behind. Rafa’s ability to bounce back is better than anyone else, from an early age he’s been a mental giant on the tour. Usually players develop that mental side later in their career but whether he has been 18, 23 or 30 it’s the same Rafa and that’s something you can’t just turn on.
No one knows how a return to tennis will go, he had to miss Melbourne and Miami but still won two of the three Grand Slam’s he played and won 35 of 38 Masters 1000 matches and five titles at that level.
24 top 10 wins!