Entering the top-50 should not be a problem for talented and hard-working players, even in the strongest eras. Rafael Nadal did not waste time making a breakthrough on the ATP ranking list, cracking the top-50 for the first time in August 2003, just after turning 17!
After a nasty injury in April, Nadal lost ground a bit in 2004, standing around the 50th place for a couple of months and settling inside that group again following the fourth round at the Australian Open 2005. From January 31, 2005, Nadal has continuously been ranked in the top-50, improving his position after rock-solid results and becoming world no.
2 by the end of the season thanks to a Major and four Masters 1000 titles on his tally. From the end of April 2005, Nadal has never left the top-10 group, earning many ranking records and finishing as the year-end no. 1 for five years, the last time in 2019.
Last October, Rafa became the fifth player in the Open era with 800 weeks in the top-50, following Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer on the exclusive list. To enter the charts, one has to spend no less than 15 years in the selected group, avoid injuries and deliver consistent results one season after another.
Almost 20 years after making a professional debut, Nadal is still among the players to beat, winning two ATP titles in 2021 and hoping for a stronger, injury-free run in 2022.
Rafael Nadal is the fifth player with 800 consecutive weeks in the top-50.
After tough losses to Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open last year, Nadal lost the ATP throne to Novak after Melbourne.
A month later, the Spaniard claimed the crown in Acapulco a couple of days before the coronavirus outbreak. Spending the next six months at home in Mallorca, Nadal started to practice in May and decided to skip Cincinnati and the US Open and prepare for beloved clay in Rome and Paris.
Diego Schwartzman defeated Rafa in the quarter-final in the Italian capital, sending the Spaniard to Roland Garros with only three matches since March! Returning to his kingdom, Nadal claimed the 13th crown from 16 trips to Paris, securing the 20th Major title to match Roger Federer's record.
At 34, Rafa won all seven matches in straight sets, marching into the quarters and standing strong against more formidable rivals to confirm his clay-court supremacy once again. Nadal ousted Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes in the title match, remaining undefeated in Roland Garros finals and securing the 14th season with at least one title on the highest level.
In January next year, Rafa will celebrate 17 consecutive years in the top-50, preparing for another good season and setting eyes on more Major titles if he remains healthy.