When the US Open tennis tournament begins on Monday, one major player on the men’s side of the draw will not be there. Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a knee injury.
Nadal’s career was on the rise after he won three straight majors in 2010. However, ever since he lost to Novak Djokovic in the finals of last year’s Wimbledon tournament, Nadal has lost his No. 1 ranking, and has won only one major event, this year’s French Open.
In fact, Nadal has won seven of the eight French Open tournaments he has played in throughout his career. His only loss was in 2009. Later on that year, he had to withdraw from the Wimbledon tournament, due to the same knee issues, despite being the defending champion.
Nadal was defeated in the second round of this year’s Wimbledon tournament by the 100th-ranked player in the world, Lukas Rosol. He has not played in any tournaments since. Nadal’s knee injury also forced him to withdraw from the 2012 Olympics, making him unable to defend the gold medal he won in Beijing in 2008.
Since July 2011, Nadal has gone from the top ranked men’s tennis player in the world to third, and is expected to fall to fourth after the US Open. He has not been ranked that low in the ATP World Tour standings since March 2010.
Men’s tennis has been dominated by the ˝Big Three˝of Nadal, Djokovic, and Roger Federer since 2005, with one of the three men winning 29 of the last 30 majors. The only exception was the 2009 US Open, which was won by Juan Martin del Potro.
This year, Andy Murray was finally able to break through, and win gold at the Olympics, defeating Federer in three straight sets. Murray, Djokovic, and Federer are now considered the favorites going into this year’s US Open.
Over on the women’s side of the draw, the tournament is generally acknowledged to be a more wide open tournament. Samantha Stosur will be back to defend her first ever major title. In order to do so, she will have to get through a tough field, featuring Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Kim Clijsters.
Unlike in men’s tennis, the women have had a huge assortment of names win major tournaments in the last five years. Relatives unknown such as Li Na, Petra Kvitová, and Victoria Azarenka have all won majors since 2011.
Federer, who has faced criticism of his age this year, will be looking to keep his top ranking, and win his second major of the year, while Djokovic will be looking to bounce back from what has been a tough 2012 so far.
Due to Nadal’s withdraw from this year’s tournament, the spotlight will be mainly focused on Federer and Djokovic, leaving it to the rest of the men’s field to see if someone can finally end the dominant run that these players have had in major tournaments.