As Rafael Nadal advances to the final of the China Open, he also captures the #1 ranking, even if he loses to Novak Djokovic in the Sunday final. Arriving in China on Monday, Nadal last held the position in July 2011, as reported by Associated Press. Djokovic previously held the ranking for over 100 weeks, but this season has witnessed a 27-0 improvement on hard courts by the player who beat Djokovic in this year’s US Open and is the reigning French Open champ.
Nadal advances due to Tomas Berdych’s back trauma. The player from the Czech Republic retired in an injury timeout during his semifinal with the Spaniard, in which Nadal was a break up at 4-2 in the opening set.
Djokovic and Frenchman Richard Gasquet battled for 80 minutes in the other semifinal; defending champion Djokovic however conquered in a handy 6-4, 6-2 victory. Tomorrow, Djokovic will be seeking his fourth title in five years at the China Open.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) October 3, 2013
Nadal credited his position to hard work, “The personal satisfaction is not because I am No. 1 today, it’s because (of) all the work (I put in) to be where I am today… I don’t feel (like) a better player now than five hours ago, and I won’t go to bed tonight feeling that I am the best player in the world-that’s something I’ve never thought.”
The only mark to mar the athlete’s stellar year since returning from a seven-month hiatus due to a knee injury is his loss at Wimbledon. Relishing his top spot after more than a year laid-up, Nadal said, ”(This is) a great year, one of the best years of my career without any doubt.”
Last month, Nadal signed on to join Djokovic and Andy Murray upon returning to the December Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Nadal has two wins at the tournament (2009, 2011) over four showings.[Images via Rafael Nadal official Twitter.]