Despite being knocked out of the season-ending ATP Finals, Tennis legend Rafael Nadal will be a satisfied man as he finished the year as the men’s number one player. With this, the Spanish stalwart has also matched Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic’s feat to secure the fifth year-end number one. The Spanish star joined Federer, Djokovic and Jimmy Connors on that tally, trailing only Pete Sampras (six). He also broke a record set by the Serbian maestro.
Having previously finished at the top in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017, Nadal is the first player to hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 on four occasions. The Mallorcan is also the first player to finish No. 1 five times in non-consecutive years. The 11-year gap between his first year-end No. 1 season (2008) and his last (2019) is also a record.
At 33, Nadal is the oldest year-end number one in ATP rankings history. Djokovic, 31 last year, held that mark previously.
Maintaining his reputation and living up to his billing as the top-seed of the tournament, Nadal battled back from a set down to stun rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7, 6-4 and 7-5 in a marathon 2 hours and 52 minutes contest on Friday.
Unfortunately for Nadal, he was relying on permutations and combinations to qualify for the knockout stages of ATP Finals. His qualification much depended on the result of the match between Daniil Medvedev and defending champion Alexander Zverev. But Zverev’s win over Medvedev ended Nada’s dream of playing long-time rival and off-court friend Federer.
Federer, who beat Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 at the ATP Finals on Thursday, reached the semi-finals at the expense of the 16-time Grand Slam champion. The result confirmed Nadal will finish the year at the top of the rankings for the fifth time.
It also marked the 16th straight year in which one of the ‘Big Four’ – Federer (2004-07 and 2009), Nadal (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019), Djokovic (2011-12, 2014-15 and 2018) and Andy Murray (2016) – has finished as world number one.