Tennis: Slumping Nadal set for first slam-less year since 2005

Reuters , Friday 3 Jul 2015

Rafael Nadal
Spain's Rafael Nadal (Photo: Reuters)

Rafa Nadal is likely to end the year without a grand slam singles title for the first time since his debut French Open crown in 2005 following his shock Wimbledon exit on Thursday, his uncle and coach Toni has conceded.

Nadal, a 14-times grand slam champion who won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, was dumped out by German qualifier Dustin Brown in the second round, the Spaniard's fourth reverse to a player ranked 100th or lower at the All England Club since 2011.

Nadal, 29, has struggled since being sidelined by injury and illness last year and has only two relatively modest titles to his name in 2015 -- Stuttgart and Buenos Aires -- with September's U.S. Open the only major left on the calendar.

"I want to think that it can be done," Toni Nadal told Spain's Cadena Cope radio broadcaster late on Thursday when asked about his nephew's chances at Flushing Meadows.

"Right now, I am realistic and the chances we have are probably thin, because we have not been able to play well for a long time," he added.

"So it's difficult to think that we will do so at the U.S. Open but I think that it will happen at some point. I am confident there will be a tipping point and he will get his game back.

"He has been playing at a very good level for a long time and there is no clear reason for him to stop being good."

Nadal's 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-4 defeat to Brown had been "really painful" and was a surprise as the former world number one had been showing glimpses of his best in recent months and had been training well, his uncle said.

"The opponent scarcely gave him room to get into a rhythm... but at key moments he made too many errors which were not difficult shots," he added.

"Of course, if you lose a point here and a point there the match becomes more complicated. Above all, if you don't have the confidence in your head your shots lose security and direction.

"In the end, it's a bit of everything and what we have to do is recover as soon as possible."

Nadal has just over a month to find his form before the North American hardcourt swing begins with the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal, Canada.

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