Rafael Nadal announced earlier today he will not be competing in the 2012 US Open. Nadal, the 2010 champion and defending finalist, had withdrawn from this week’s Cincinatti Open, as well the Canadian Open and the Olympics.
Nadal last played at Wimbledon, where he lost in the second round to unseeded Lukas Rosol, one of the greatest upsets in grand slam history.
Nadal cited knees tendinitis as the reason for withdrawal, but for fans who have charted the eerie similarities between Nadal’s career and that of 70’s-era legend Bjorn Borg, the 26 year old Spaniard’s future may be in doubt.
Nadal and Borg are both reserved players who excelled early on clay before making the jump to grass, having dominant records at the French Open and Wimbledon (unlike Borg, Nadal went on to win major tournaments on hard court as well).
At age 26, after suffering a series of heartbreaking defeats at the hands of new rival John McEnroe, Borg retired, seemingly out of nowhere. Similarly, before scoring a hat-trick of wins against Djokovic this season (culminating in the French Open final), Nadal lost seven straight to the Serb, including three straight slam finals.
Nadal’s candid comments about his floundering confidence and somewhat apathetic attitude toward tennis has been unsettling, though many assumed his French Open victory would revive some of the old Nadal ferocity.
One must wonder if this latest Wimbledon setback has proved the final blow to an always quiet and curious competitor.
Barring an unforeseen disaster on the part of Andy Murray, Nadal is almost guaranteed to drop to 4 in the rankings, his lowest in nearly a decade.