Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian open after losing a five set thriller to fellow compatriot Fernando Verdasco. In a match lasting over four and a half hours, the former world number one lost with scores of 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 7-6 (4-7) 6-2 in favour of Verdasco.
In what might be observed as further evidence of the decline of a great champion this latest result compounds what was a disappointing 2015 for Nadal. At Wimbledon he was embarrassingly dispatched by qualifier Dustin Brown and failed to win a single Grand Slam for the first time since 2004.
For Rafa whose forehand was once the most feared weapon in world tennis, the latest defeat is sad to witness. It seems the all action, explosive style that brought him so much success is ironically responsible for his downfall. His body can simply no longer cope with the demand placed upon it.
Simultaneously just as Novak Djokovic began his ascendency into one of the all time greats in 2011, Rafa’s fortunes had already started to reverse. Fans of the sport will hope this is not the end. But with his fortress at Roland Garros breached for the first time last year combined with yesterdays loss, it seems prudent to accept that ,unfortunately, Nadal is no longer the the force he once was.