Rafa Nadal in unfathomable 20-year first after French Open heartbreak

The Spaniard will face an unprecedented situation when he returns.

Rafa Nadal in pain and Nadal waves to the crowd.
Rafa Nadal (pictured) is set to drop out of the top 100 rankings for the first time in 20 years. (Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal is set to take a further hit from not defending his Roland Garros title as he is set to drop out of the top 100 rankings for the first time in 20 years. Nadal will miss his first Paris grand slam since 2004 having won the title a remarkable 14 times throughout his illustrious career.

Nadal hasn't played since the Australian Open and eventually announced his withdrawal from his most lucrative grand slam. The Spaniard also announced that 2024 will most likely be his last year playing tennis.

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The announcement sent shockwaves throughout the sport. Nadal's absence opens up the door for Novak Djokovic to become the first man to reach 23 grand slam titles if he is to win on Paris.

Although the in-form Carlos Alcaraz will be fighting for his chance at history with a maiden Roland Garros title. While the drama will unfold on the court, Nadal is set to take a hit off it.

The Spaniard is set to drop out of the top 100 rankings for the first time in 20 years. He will have to rely on a protected ranking or wildcards to enter events when he returns.

Nadal mentioned he isn't sure when he will return to tennis, if at all in 2023. This could see Nadal even further and face incredibly hard runs at future grand slams.

The 36-year-old addressed his injury concerns in a press conference at the Rafa Nadal Academy. "I was even working as much as possible every single day for the last four months, they have been very difficult months because we were not able to find a solution to the problems I had in Australia," he said on his injury.

"Today I'm still in a position where I am not able to feel myself ready to compete at the standards I need to be to play Roland Garros. I am not the guy who will be at Roland Garros just to play."

Rafael Nadal reacts during the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal (pictured) will miss the French Open. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz in shock draw

Meanwhile, Djokovic and World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz have been pitted on the same side of the French Open draw. Djokovic and Alcaraz have not played each other since the Madrid Open last year, which the young Spaniard won.

Alcaraz heads into Roland Garros as arguably the favourite as Djokovic struggles with an elbow injury. The 20-year-old Spaniard also defended both his Madrid and Barcelona titles in the lead-up to Paris.

And in an enticing potential semi-final clash, Alcaraz and Djokovic could be set to meet. Daniil Medvedev's victory at the Italian Open meant he leapfrogged Djokovic into the World No.2 ranking, in turn opening up the possibility that the Serb and Alcaraz could be drawn on the same side.

For fans hoping to see a French Open decider between Djokovic and Alcaraz, that will unfortunately not be a possibility, with the pair set to meet at the semi-final if they both progress that far.

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