Rafa Nadal falls to brutal 18-year first as tennis fans hail 'end of an era'

The Spaniard's remarkable tennis streak came to an end after nearly 18 years.

Rafa Nadal speaks at the Australian Open.
Rafa Nadal (pictured) has dropped out of the Top 10 rankings for the first time since his introduction in 2005 putting an end to a record streak. (Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal has dropped to World No.13 and has ended his absurd streak of remaining inside the Top 10 rankings since his introduction back in 2005. Nadal has not played tennis since the Australian Open having lost in the second round of his title defence.

The Spaniard was seeded No.1, but injured his hip flexor at Melbourne Park. The 36-year-old announced he would be recovering for 6-8 weeks after leaving Australia in order to compete at Indian Wells.

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Unfortunately, Nadal wasn't able to compete at the Dubai Tennis Championship or Indian Wells as he turned his attention to his favourite surface. Nadal was unable to defend his Australian Open title and 600 points for making the final in Indian Wells last year. And after being unable to compete in these events, Nadal put an end to an incredible steak.

On Monday, Nadal officially dropped out of the Top 10 rankings for the first time in 18 years. The 22-time grand slam champ hasn't been outside of the Top 10 rankings since entering after his win at the Barcelona Open when he was 18 years old in 2005.

In 2020, Nadal set the men's record when he overtook tennis great Jimmy Connors previous record of 789 weeks in the Top 10. Nadal has been in the Top 10 for 912 consecutive weeks. He sits only being Martina Navratilova who was at the top of the women's game for an incredible 1,000 weeks.

Nadal's consistency remains remarkable considering his wrist and foot injuries suffered over the years playing at such a demanding tempo. Not a single player inside the Top 20 from 2005 is still playing tennis professional today.

While he has dropped out of the Top 10, Nadal appears to be set to make a comeback at Monte Carlo in April. And the Spaniard recently admitted that his streak had to end at one point. Regardless of the reality, tennis fans were left saddened after one of tennis' most incredible streaks came to an end.

Carlos Alcaraz regains World No.1 title after Indian Wells

While one Spaniard ended his incredible rankings streak, another reclaimed the pinnacle position. Carlos Alcaraz was utterly dominant in the Indian Wells final, with the 19-year-old not letting an early technology drama ruin his momentum as he won 6-3 6-2 in 70 minutes against Daniil Medvedev.

Alcaraz has now reclaimed the World No.1 ranking, which he claimed was his goal before the start of the tournament. Djokovic didn't take part at Indian Wells because isn't allowed to enter the United States, meaning he is forced to miss Indian Wells and the Miami Open - both ATP 1000 events.

Rafael Nadal lifts the trophy at the Barcelona Open in 2005.
Rafael Nadal (pictured) has finally dropped out of the World Top 10 rankings after winning the Barcelona Open in 2005. (CESAR RANGEL/AFP via Getty Images)

He also missed both events last year, with America still requiring overseas travellers to show proof of vaccination to gain entry into the country. After Alcaraz's victory and incredible achievement to regain the World No.1 ranking, Nadal congratulated his younger compatriot.

Alcaraz also became the first man since Nadal to win Indian Wells without dropping a set. While in more encouraging news, the Monte Carlo tournament director said Nadal is expected to play at the opening Masters 1000 clay court event.

"Rafa was the first [player] to be registered," tournament director David Massey said. "He really wants to play at the Monte Carlo Masters and is giving himself every chance to take part in the tournament he's so fond of."

Meanwhile, Djokovic is also on the entry list having only played one tournament since his Australian Open triumph. Djokovic's undefeated streak in 2023 came to an end at the hands of Daniil Medvedev at the Dubai Tennis Championship.

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