Its Double celebration for Rafael Nadal as he clinched the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking for a third time after beating Stanislas Wawrinka in two tiebreakers at the O2 Arena in London. The win also assures Rafa of a semi final spot in the Season ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
It is a remarkable achievement given Nadal did not play a tournament until February after seven months out with knee problems.Many questioned whether the Spaniard would be able to hit the same heights but he has put together one of the best years in tennis history, winning 10 of his first 13 tournaments. The feat which also saw him pick up the ATP comeback player of the year.
The 27-year-old Spaniard previously finished at the top in 2008 and 2010, and becomes the first player to hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking on two occasions. Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl each accomplished the feat once. Nadal will be presented with the ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy this week at The O2.
This is the 10th straight season that the year-end World No. 1 ranking has been held by Nadal (2008, ’10, ‘13), Federer (2004-07, ’09) or Novak Djokovic (2011-12).
Nadal returned to World No. 1 on 7 October for the first time in more than two years after reaching his 13th final of a phenomenal season at the China Open in Beijing. He made his comeback in February with a No. 5 ranking following a seven-month injury layoff and won 10 titles, including Roland Garros, US Open and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 triumphs. He also went undefeated on hard courts (26-0) through the China Open final, when he finished runner-up to Djokovic.
Nadal first attained the No. 1 ranking on 18 August 2008 for a period of 46 weeks, becoming the first Spaniard to finish a season at the summit of men’s professional tennis. He regained the top spot from Federer on 7 June 2010, for another 56-week stretch, before relinquishing No. 1 to Djokovic following the 2011 Wimbledon final. Nadal competes in London at No. 1 for the 107th week in his career.
The Mallorcan is looking to win his first Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title this week at The O2 in London. He achieved his best finish in 2010, when he came in No. 1 and lost to Federer in the final. Nadal is making his sixth appearance at the season finale; he has qualified nine times.