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Rafael Nadal Secures Year-End ATP • No. 1 Ranking

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after winning his round 2 match against Hyeon Chung of Korea at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 01 November 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

 

 

Rafael Nadal pulled the plug early on his 2016 season.

 

The 31-year-old Spaniard pulled off an electrifying end game in the City of Light today.

 

Nadal defeated Hyeon Chung, 7-5, 6-3, in his Rolex Paris Masters opener, clinching the year-end world No. 1 ranking for the fourth time in his career—four years after he last held the year-end top spot.

 

The 16-time Grand Slam champion made history as the oldest year-end No. 1 and the first man over the age of 30 to hold the top spot since the inception of the ATP computer rankings in 1973.

 

Five months after Nadal clinched La Decima, dropping just 35 games en route to his record-extending 10th Roland Garros championship, he was peaking in Paris again full aware of how far he’s come.

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Hyeon Chung of Korea during their second round match at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 01 November 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

“Of course, I’m very, very happy for everything,” Nadal said. “Having an amazing year. One year ago for sure I never dreamed about being world No. 1 again at the end of the season. So it’s something that means a lot to me.

 

“I’m very happy for everything, but the season is not over. So here I am in Paris, the most important city in my career without a doubt, so I am just looking forward to keep going and trying my best.”

 

Securing his fourth season-ending top spot, Nadal equals John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Novak Djokovic’s marks.

 

Pete Sampras holds the all-time ATP record with six finishes as year-end No. 1, followed by Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors, who each held the year-end No. 1 ranking five times.

 

The second-ranked Federer opted to skip Paris this week after beating Juan Martin del Potro for his eighth Basel title on Sunday. Federer’s decision to rest and recover to prepare for the ATP World Tour Finals in London this month, opened the door for Nadal to clinch No. 1 with one win this week.

 

The US Open champion took care of business completing a remarkable run over the past year.

 

Nadal opened the 2017 season ranked No. 9 intent on retaining his Top 10 spot while much of the focus centered on then No. 1 Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open aspirations in January.

 

Since then, he’s contested three Grand Slam finals, collected six titles, including Roland Garros and the US Open, and if he wins his first Paris Masters this week, Nadal will have his 31st career Masters championship breaking the record he shares with Djokovic.

 

About the only thing Nadal has yet to do this year is beat Federer. The 36-year-old Swiss has won all four of their 2017 meetings, extending his streak to five straight wins over his archrival.

 

Given the rivals are both revitalized this year, can the 31-year-old Rafa catch 19-time Grand Slam champion Roger in the all-time major race?

 

Nadal’s coach, Uncle Toni Nadal, has already predicted it will happen.

 

“We will get to Federer’s 19, yes, I think it will happen,” Toni Nadal told Eurosport last month. “It’s difficult, but there is some more Roland Garros (titles) and I am confident other titles will come.”

 

While Nadal has turned back time regaining world No. 1 nine years after his initial rise to the top, he joked he hasn’t yet figured out how to stop time.

 

“I don’t want to get older,” Nadal said during the US Open. “For the moment, I didn’t find the way to stop that watch.”

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