A year ago, Rafael Nadal earned a massive ranking record that will take some beating in the future! The Spaniard counted his 800th consecutive week in the top-10, passing Jimmy Connors three months earlier and extending the record to over 850 weeks by the beginning of 2022!
Nadal cracked the top-10 in April 2005, still at 18. Seventeen years later, the 20-time Major champion is still among the world's leading players, passing the 850-week mark and hoping for more in the rest of 2022! The 16-year-old Nadal entered the 2003 season ranked just outside the top-200, playing high-level tennis and making meteoric progress through the ATP ranking list.
After 19 Challenger triumphs (title in Barletta and three finals) and the third-round appearance in Monte Carlo, Rafa cracked the top-100 in April and stayed on a steady course in the following months to find himself in the top-50 by August.
Despite a nasty injury that halted his progress in the spring of 2004, Nadal won the first ATP title in Sopot in August at 18. Also, a teenager helped his teammates in the quest for the Davis Cup title that year, beating Andy Roddick in Seville and gathering a boost ahead of 2005.
That proved to be Nadal's first great season, as he reached the Miami Open final and stood two points away from beating Roger Federer in a memorable title clash.
Rafael Nadal is the only player with 800 consecutive top-10 weeks.
The best was yet to come for an extraordinary teenager, who conquered the first Masters 1000 trophy in Monte Carlo a few weeks later.
Hungry for more, Rafa headed to Barcelona with no rest and defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero in the best-of-five final to deliver another title and additional 300 points that propelled him into the top-10 for the first time! At 18 years and ten months, Rafa became the eighth-youngest player in the elite group since the beginning of the ATP ranking after Aaron Krickstein, Michael Chang, Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi and Andrei Medvedev.
Embracing the top-10 honor on April 25, 2005, Nadal has never left the group, counting one notable or at least reliable season after another to hang in there even in the most challenging moments. Rafa dealt with injuries in 2015 and 2016 and stayed away from Major titles for the first time since 2004, barely keeping himself in the elite group.
Returning at his best in 2017, Nadal has been a top player ever since, joining Federer on 20 Major crowns in 2020 and setting eyes on the 21st in the season ahead of us.