Rafael Nadal's forfeit at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam was a huge disappointment for many, especially tournament director Richard Krajicek (who had invested heavily in the presence of the 20-time Grand Slam champion). The start of the season was more troubled than expected for the Spanish champion, struggling since January with a back injury that forced him to miss the ATP Cup entirely. At the Australian Open, the former world number 1 did not he managed to go beyond the quarter-finals by getting two sets back from Stefanos Tsitsipas and missing access to the semifinals. A few days ago Rafa gave up on the ATP 500 on Dutch soil, where he hadn't set foot even since 2009. At this point it is likely that the 34-year-old Majorcan will make his return to the field in Miami at the end of the month, or he could decide to rest until the beginning of the season on clay. During an interview with the 'NU.nl' portal, Krajicek made a parallel between tennis players and Formula 1 single-seaters.
Krajicek on Rafael Nadal's injury
"I saw Rafael Nadal play at the Australian Open and there he made a good impression, but I also realized that he was probably playing with painkillers," said Richard Krajicek. "I did not assume that he would withdraw, but you know it can happen." Krajieck also compared tennis players like Rafael Nadal to finely-tuned Formula 1 cars, pointing out how even a small issue can disrupt their smooth functioning. "A top tennis player is a kind of Formula 1 car," the Dutchman added. "It is so fine-tuned. If something does not run completely smoothly, then that causes problems. This is part of top sport, so it is no different." Spain’s Rafael Nadal exited the Australian Open 2021 after losing in the quarterfinal to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Although the Spaniard lost, it was one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament. The Greek player won the match after being two sets down, to eventually win the next three sets and seal the match in his favor. Due to that result, Rafael Nadal faces a risk of not qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals 2021. Along with the Spaniard, last season’s US Open champion Dominic Thiem and former World No. 1 Roger Federer are amongst the high-profile players facing a similar fate as Rafa’s. At the end of February, Nadal is on the 11th spot in rankings, whereas the Austrian ace and the Swiss sensation are not to be seen in the top 15 rankings. Last season, Rafa lost in the quarterfinal of the Australian Open, which indicates that he defended his points. Thiem was a finalist in Melbourne last year, and his fourth-round loss this year meant that he faced a loss of points.