In another testimony of his incredible legacy, the 21-time Major champion Rafael Nadal is spending his 18th season in the top-20. In December, the Spaniard entered an exclusive group with 850 weeks in the top-20, and he made another milestone this week.
Rafa is counting his 861st week in the top-20, becoming the fourth player to achieve that after Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, who leads the field with 1064. An 18-year-old Nadal was ranked just outside the top-50 at the beginning of 2005, hampered by injuries in the previous season and determined to show his full potential.
After reaching the Australian Open fourth round, a teenager conquered Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on his beloved clay in February to gain a boost. Rafa skipped Indian Wells and gathered energy for Miami, where he lost a tight final to Roger Federer after being two points away from victory and the first Masters 1000 crown.
Rafael Nadal follows three great rivals on a ranking milestone.
On April 4, Nadal cracked the top-20 for the first time and used that momentum to conquer Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros in the following two months.
After lifting the first Major crown in Paris, the youngster became Roger Federer's closest rival and improved his game on every surface to settle in the top-2. Nadal has never left the top-20 group after cracking it in April 2005, embracing an incredible streak and becoming the third player since 1973 with 850 consecutive weeks in that company after Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer!
Nadal has never left the top-10 either, overcoming all the setbacks with injuries, especially in 2015 and 2016, and remaining at the top for 17 years! Overcoming the physical issues and setbacks, Nadal returned stronger in 2017 to regain the place he deserves.
Rafa cracked the top-2 after the first Roland Garros triumph since 2014 and stayed there until March last year. Dealing with injuries, Nadal claimed two ATP titles in 2021 and lost the Roland Garros crown to Novak Djokovic.
Following only the third loss in Paris, Rafa took two months off after dealing with a foot injury, missing Wimbledon and the Olympic Games and wrapping up the season after two matches in Washington. Like many times before, Nadal left the setbacks behind him at the beginning of 2022, winning all 15 encounters and lifting the 21st Major trophy that will keep him safe inside the top-20 for at least another year.
Nadal will pass Andre Agassi's 868 top-20 weeks in two months, and there will be no one standing between him and Roger Federer on that list.