Was the explosive Rafael Nadal headline disrespectful to an all-time great?

Rafael Nadal takes a break
Rafael Nadal looks on

It was a Tennis365 headline that divided opinions in the tennis world, with the word ‘humiliating’ rarely placed next to the name of the great Rafael Nadal.

Tennis great Andy Roddick was among those who suggested this headline on a story warning Nadal would drop out of the top 100 of the ATP rankings if he fails to recover from injury in time to play at the French Open was misplaced: Rafael Nadal facing humiliating rankings collapse after French Open.

Unsurprisingly, the story was viewed tens of thousands of time around the world and that readership exploded when Roddick offered up this opinion after reading the headline on his Apple News feed:

While the use of the word humiliating may be a little colourful, it may have seemed misplaced sitting next to one of the game’s all-time greats.

Nadal is destined to go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time, with his prowess on clay court certain to cement his place as the ultimate champion on that surface.

His 22 Grand Slam title are a testament to his brilliance and his place in the Hall of Fame of tennis was sealed long ago.

He is also one of the great ambassadors of the sport and a true gentleman on and off the court.

For all of the above reasons, a drop out of the top 100 of the ATP rankings would be a shocking turn of events if that is his fate next month.

This is a player who didn’t drop out of the top 10 of the rankings for a stunning 18 years, with that run arguably as impressive as his ridiculous haul of 14 French Open titles.

So while ‘humiliating’ may be better positioned in an article about a player who has failed in our great sport, it would be an apt way to describe a fall from grace Nadal and his army of fans around the world would never have imagined.

With injuries impacting his ambitions over the last year, the bulk of the ranking points left on Nadal’s total coming from his French Open win last June.

As doubts grow over his hopes of playing at Roland Garros this year following his withdrawal from this week’s Italian Open, it will take a miracle for Nadal to get back to his best in the next two weeks and be ready for an attempt to win for a 15th time in Paris.

So even if he doesn’t lose all of his ranking points, anything less than a run to the Final will see him plummet down the rankings and face the prospect of being unseeded if he plays at Wimbledon.

Yet tennis legend Chris Evert has suggested such gloomy predictions may be misplaced, as she warned you can never write of greats of the game like Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“When Rafa is 80 years old, I wouldn’t rule him out from winning the French Open,” said Evert at a Eurosport event.

“So I am not dismissing them, but I just feel their preparation isn’t great, but Novak and Rafa have superior experience.

“They could come out of the starting gate playing vintage tennis, but on current form, you would have to slightly favour Carlos Alcaraz heading into the Frnech Open.”

It remains to be seen whether Nadal will win his race to take up a place in the French Open draw, with each passing day without confirmation of his positive progress certain to fuel rumours that he may miss the French Open for the first time in his career.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal facing humiliating rankings collapse after French Open