Rafael Nadal

2022 Athletes of the Year – Rafael Nadal 7th

7. Rafael Nadal

Country: Spain
Sport: Tennis
Number of stitches: 93
Best ranking: 1.
Ranking 2021: –

Rafael Nadal is 7th in our 2022 “world” ranking

Credit: Quentin Guichard

athletes of the year

Odermatt, ruling class


top 10

7. Rafael Nadal (Spain – Tennis) – 93 points
8. David Popovici (Romania – Swimming) – 76 points
9. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland (Norway – Biathlon) – 50 points
10. Johannes Boe (Norway – Biathlon) – 48 points

Why him ?

Because it seems to be forever reborn from the ashes to get the most amazing performances. Not many people – perhaps including himself – have seen Rafael Nadal age beyond their thirties in particular. Still, the 36-year-old Majorcan continues to raise his arms at the biggest tournaments. This year he thus went to seek his 21st and 22nd Grand Slam crowns, setting the record only in that area. After the retirement of former rival and friend Roger Federer, only Novak Djokovic can take him away in the near future.

It’s not really original to see Nadal win the Majors: like his old Big 3 sidekicks, he downplayed the exceptional. But the conditions under which it still achieves this in 2022 only add to that success. “Taurus of Manacor”, who came to Antipodes in January, having played a competitive match since Roland-Garros 2021, was above all looking for feelings on hard ground that has always been traumatic for him. As a result, he went to the end of an Australian Open, which he had not yet won in 13 years. And that’s when he nearly physically collapsed in the quarterfinals against Denis Shapovalov before he was victorious in a crazy final.

Rafael Nadal lifts the Mousquetaires Cup, his 14th title and 22nd Grand Slam at Roland-Garros 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Daniil Medvedev still remembers this, leading two sets to zero and leading 3-2, 0/40 in the third set. Sacrifice, adaptability and tactical acumen once again allowed Nadal to make the difference after more than five hours of fighting. And that was just the beginning: He did it again at Roland-Garros five months later and now has as many trophies as Pete Sampras from Majors (14). The okra monster has such a margin on the surface that it’s hardly surprising to see it still victorious. Except that the beast was still injured: the Spaniard, torn from his left foot, had to “sleep” him for two weeks with daily infiltrations.

Mid-season and with his body in more pain than ever, Nadal was therefore in an unprecedented position in his career: to achieve the Grand Slam calendar. At Wimbledon, however, a new injury, this time to his abdomen, overpowered his wild ambition and forced him to retire before the semi-finals. Her only Major defeat of the season (for 22 wins) came against Frances Tiafoe in the 16th round of the US Open in September. So the decline will (at least) wait for another year…

The year in five dates

January 30 : Rafael Nadal makes yet another dream comeback: slamming Melbourne’s Daniil Medvedev (2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5) for 21st Grand Slam victory . Absolute record of the number of Majors for the first time alone. Thus he won every Grand Slam number at least twice.

March 20 : “Bull of Manacor” fell for the first time this year against Taylor Fritz (6-3, 7-6) in the Indian Wells final. The Majorcan player, whose rib was broken, will not play for another month and a half. Prior to that, he had 20 wins and three titles (Melbourne, Australian Open and Acapulco).

Nadal grits his teeth, Fritz jams the game: summary of the final

June 5th : Nadal beat Casper Ruud in the Roland-Garros final (6-3, 6-3, 6-0) to clinch his 14th title on Paris soil and his 22nd Grand Slam title. He had limped out of Rome a little over three weeks ago, another “miracle” for this born warrior.

6 July : The Majorcan tennis player defeated Taylor Fritz with courage and experience in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in the super tie-break of the fifth set (3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6). injury, 19th consecutive Grand Slam victory. However, two days later, he gave up on the semi-finals.

September 5 : Frances Tiafoe became the only player to regularly beat the Spaniard in a Major in the 2022 round of 16 (6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3) of the US Open. Before the end of the year, the Spaniard won only one game without a bet against Casper Ruud at the Masters. But he promises to do everything to return to his best level in 2023.

Four sets for a massive success: How Tiafoe tamed Nadal

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