Allstate Journal

Rafael Nadal reveals why he’s been in tennis slump

What’s the problem with Rafael Nadal’s tennis game of late? The Spaniard admitted in a weekend press conference that he’s lost confidence and feels anxiety during certain points in the match, which has, in turn, led to this dismal tennis slump he’s in.GTY 468057640 S SPO TEN WTA USA FL

Nadal is 15-5 on the season, which is a fine record for anyone who isn’t a 14-time Grand Slam champion. Those 15 wins tie Nadal with Gilles Simon, a fine player currently ranked No. 14, but one who’s never made it past the fourth round in any of the 35 majors he’s played. (And that run ended in the quarterfinals.) Nadal won a tournament in February against a weak field in Buenos Aires and lost in the semis of another clay tournament in South America. But he’s struggled mightily off the clay. On every other surface so far this year, Nadal is 8-4.

Rafa’s results from his 2015 tournaments: Lost opening round in Doha, beat in straight sets by Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open quarters, lost in the semifinals of Rio’s clay tournament to No. 28 Fabio Fognini, won in Buenos Aires after not playing a single opponent with a top-5o ranking, lost in quarterfinals of Indian Wells to Milos Raonic and won one match in Miami before falling to fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in straights. That loss speaks volumes. Prior to the 2012 Masters event in Madrid, Nadal was 13-0 against his countryman. Since then, he’s lost two straight to Verdasco.

Whatever troubles Nadal has had on hard or grass courts before, he’s been almost unbeatable on clay. Nadal’s career winning percentage is 93% and his 46 titles are more than the players who rank second, third, fourth and fifth combined. But here’s the most staggering stat of all, one that clearly proves all is not right in the Nadal camp. Over the past 52 weeks, Novak Djokovic has a better winning percentage on clay than Rafael Nadal. It’s a razor-thin margin; Djoko has won 87.5% of his matches on Nadal’s dominant surface while Nadal is at 87.1%, but it’s still a lead and Nadal being behind anyone in any clay statistic has been unthinkable for the past decade.