A little more than a year ago, Rafael Nadal seemed to hit a wall. The 24-year-old Spaniard was plagued by chronic knee tendonitis, lost early in the 2009 French Open and didn't even play Wimbledon. He again fell short at last year's U.S. Open -- the only grand slam tournament he's yet to win -- with a straight sets semifinal loss. Then Nadal pulled out of the Australian Open during a quarterfinal match because of his aching knees.
What happened to the guy who seemed poised to overtake Roger Federer for good? Well, he's back. And apparently predictions of his demise -- "No one can play that hard without wearing down" -- were premature.
Nadal took a few weeks off after his loss to Andy Murray in Melbourne and returned with a vengeance. Last month he won the French Open for the fifth time in six years. He cruised to a second Wimbledon title on Sunday. He didn't face Federer in either event after his rival lost in the quarterfinals both times. But no matter. Nadal now has eight Grand Slam titles. At the same age Federer -- considered the greatest player of all-time -- had six. Pete Sampras had seven. Only Bjorn Borg had more majors than Nadal at the same age -- and he was done by 26. Federer might want to add a few more pieces of hardware to that trophy case. Nadal is on the move.