Rafael Nadal is taking his fall to the ATP fifth ranking in his stride, concentrating only his upcoming opening match at the Madrid Masters. With the pre-French Open event back to red clay after the 2012 blue experiment, the Spaniard has enough on his plate as he prepares to face a second-round starting opponent to be determined.
The former No. 1 and king of clay for the last half-decade or more has lost two of three Madrid finals, with the 800-metre altitude of the Spanish capital not entirely suited to his game. Since coming back from his seven months of knee injury idleness, the 26-year-old has won four of the six tournaments he has entered and is looking again like a major title threat for the French Open starting in just over a fortnight.
Even with Roland Garros unwilling to boost his ranking from fifth so as to avoid a possible Paris quarter-final with No. 1 Novak Djokovic, that doesn’t bother Nadal at all. “The seeded players historically have been there to protect the tournament, to protect the players, that they’re going to be fights against the best players on the first rounds.
“The players that are in front of me are there because they have been playing better than me. I haven’t played; I haven’t trained either.
“If they were not injured and I have been injured, well, with the format of the rankings that we have currently, good for them for not being injured. The problem is mine.”