Rafael Nadal had a chance to become the second-oldest world no. 1 after the US Open. Rafa was the favorite to take the ATP throne after New York following Daniil Medvedev's early exit, but he could not take advantage of that.
Nadal suffered the fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe and missed the opportunity to build a more significant advantage over the young guns Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz. Ruud and Alcaraz did not make a mistake, winning 12 matches and setting Sunday's title clash.
Casper and Carlos will battle for the first Major trophy and the ATP throne, with the winner becoming world no. 1 on Monday. Alcaraz will pass Nadal and become the top-ranked Spanish player for the first time in a career. Thus, a teenager will become only the second player to achieve that since 2005 after David Ferrer!
Rafa made a breakthrough run 17 years ago and became the Spaniard to beat. Nadal lifted his first Major crown on his debut in Paris and added four Masters 1000 trophies to his tally to become world no. 2 behind Roger Federer.
Nadal needed a couple of years to become the most decorated Spanish player in history. He left his compatriots behind, pushing them to work harder and follow his pace. Since 2005, Rafa has been the top-ranked Spanish player every week but 38 in 2013 and 2015 when David Ferrer took charge and stood as the Spanish no.
1. On October 5, 2015, Ferrer was world no. 7 and stood one place above Nadal, who passed him the following week. Rafa has been the top-ranked Spaniard ever since, and it will change next week for the first time in almost seven years!
Carlos is currently 130 points in front of Rafa, and the gap will become even more significant if the youngster claims the US Open crown on Sunday.
Rafael Nadal will drop behind Carlos Alcaraz on the ATP ranking list.
Rafa skipped the second part of 2021 due to a foot injury and made a perfect comeback this year.
He claimed three consecutive titles at the start of the season, including his first Australian Open crown in 13 years! With a boost on his side, Nadal lifted the trophy in Acapulco and reached the Indian Wells final. He played it with a fractured rib and lost to Taylor Fritz in straight sets.
Rafa missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona and did not play well in Madrid and Rome. He raised his level at the most significant scene and secured his 14th Roland Garros title after beating Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud.
Eager to maintain that run at Wimbledon, Nadal reached the third consecutive All England Club semi-final before withdrawing ahead of the Nick Kyrgios clash due to an abdominal injury. Rafa skipped Montreal and played one match in Cincinnati ahead of the US Open, which was not enough to give him form or the pace behind the initial shot.
On the other hand, Alcaraz has won two Masters 1000 events and two ATP 500 crowns in 2022. He lost back-to-back finals in Umag and Hamburg ahead of the North American swing, but there is nothing wrong with his game in New York.
Carlos is the youngest Major finalist since Rafa at Roland Garros 2005 and will have a chance to become the youngest world no. 1 since the start of the ATP ranking in 1973!