It was only a question of time... and mathematics. Rafa Nadal’s great season, in which he has reached at least the semi-finals in every tournament he has played in –except for Acapulco (9/10)- means he has led the Race to London from very early on. So much so that before the start of last week’s ATP Masters 1000 in Shanghai, the Spaniard was 1,460 points ahead of Novak Djokovic, who occupies second position.


To get back to the pinnacle of the ATP Tour, all he needed was for the numbers to come together. And everything lined up for him at the last tournament of the Asian swing, where his rival for finishing the season in the world number one spot lost his quarter-final clash to Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Serb needed to defend the title he won in Shanghai last year, so the points he lost (from 1,000 to 180) and Djokovic’s confirmation that he will next take to the court at the ATP Masters 1000 in Paris, tipped the numbers in Nadal’s favour.


If the Serbian is true to his word and does not play another tournament until the indoor event in the French capital, the player from Manacor will get back the world no. 1 spot on 4 November. It would be his eight period of his professional career at the pinnacle of the men’s international circuit and it would also be the Spanish player’s tenth time at the top of the world ranking.


Regardless of what happens at the final tournament of the regular season in Paris, the Spaniard will occupy the top spot for at least two weeks, until the ATP Finals are held in London, where the king of 2019 will be determined. If he achieves his goal, he will add his fifth number-1 cup to the Rafa Nadal Museum Xperience to go alongside those he collected in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017.


With his titles this year at the French and US Opens, he is now just one Grand Slam title behind Roger Federer and closer than ever to becoming the player with the most trophies in the category in history. In addition, the ATP Masters 1000 trophies he won in Rome and Canada also make him, with four victories, the most successful player of 2019, alongside Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev. However, the Balearic Islander has only played in ten tournaments.


There is also a new challenge on the horizon: reaching his 200th week as world number one. Whatever happens, he will pick up two more, taking him to 196 since he first reached the position on 18 August 2008. More than ten years later, he is sixth on the all-time list of players that have spent most time at the peak of the ATP Ranking and this season he will be fighting to finish the year as number one for the fifth time, with only Pete Sampras (6) having done so more often. All of this is the result of another stunning season in which Nadal will also return to the world number one spot.

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