With 866 weeks in the top-10, Rafael Nadal is second on the list behind Roger Federer, who has 968. Rafa entered the top-10 on April 25, 2005, after winning the Barcelona Open title. The 21-time Major winner has never left an exclusive group, remaining in the top-10 for 17 consecutive years and setting the record that will never be broken.
With a Major title under his belt and 20 wins from 21 matches this year, Nadal will almost certainly stay in the top-10 for another year and celebrate his 18th season in the elite in April 2023. Starting the 2003 season from outside the top-200, the 16-year-old Rafael Nadal needed less than four months to overcome half of his rivals on the ATP Rankings list.
After 19 Challenger victories (four finals, one title at Barletta) and the third-round result at Monte Carlo, Rafa broke into the top-100 in April and continued to charge in the following months at such a young age to secure a place in the top-50 in August.
Despite a nasty injury in Estoril that halted his rise in the spring of 2004, Rafa won the first ATP title in Sopot four months later.
Rafa Nadal has 91 singles titles
Patrick Mouratoglou recently took to Instagram to explain three changes he feels Rafael Nadal has made to his game over the years.
"In 2005, Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam title. He emerged with his own unique gamestyle, standing far behind the baseline and adding crazy spin to every shot. With this game, he became the king of clay," Mouratoglou said.
"Now, he is not just a clay specialist. He's leading the race in terms of Grand Slams won. How did he adapt his game to winning on faster surfaces?" According to the Frenchman, the 35-year-old is looking to keep the rallies as short as possible so he can conserve his energy.
"First, Rafa's game has become more and more aggressive. Early in his career, he would win games by forcing long rallies from baseline," Mouratoglou said. "Now he is looking to step inside the court more, take control of the points and shorten the rallies to conserve energy.
His serve went from a way to start the point to an actual weapon. He changed some elements in his technique which allowed him to gain more power. One of the biggest changes is improving his weight dispatch. [You can notice] how little his body was involved in the shot compared to how much he throws himself forward now," Mouratoglou said.
"He has also changed his trophy position, keeping his elbow higher and allowing his racquet to drop lower down his back for an increased whip-effect."