When Rafael Nadal stole ultimate ranking record from Jimmy Connors

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When Rafael Nadal stole ultimate ranking record from Jimmy Connors

Rafael Nadal needs only two and a half months to celebrate his 900th consecutive week in the top-10! The Spaniard cracked the elite group in April 2005 following great results on hard and his beloved clay. Rafa has never left the top-10 company, hanging in there in his darkest days in 2015 and 2016 and keeping his position firmly ever since.

In November 2020, Nadal celebrated his 1000th ATP victory in Paris. A week later, he secured another massive record, passing Jimmy Connors and becoming the first player with 790 consecutive weeks in the top-10. Connors and Nadal have been ranked in the elite group for over 15 years without leaving it.

Now, Rafa will extend the record for over two years despite dealing with injuries in 2021. The 16-year-old Nadal was ranked just outside the top-200 at the beginning of 2003, playing high-level tennis that year to continue his meteoric progress through the ATP ranking list.

After 19 Challenger triumphs (title in Barletta and three more finals) and the third-round appearance in Monte Carlo, Rafa cracked the top-100 in April. He stayed on a steady course in the following months to secure a top-50 spot in August.

Despite a nasty injury that halted his rise in the spring of 2004, Nadal won the first ATP title in Sopot in August and helped Spain win the Davis Cup title, gathering momentum ahead of 2005.

Rafael Nadal became the player with the most consecutive weeks in top-10 in 2020.

That proved to be Nadal's first great season on the Tour, competing in the fourth round of the Australian Open before conquering Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on beloved clay.

The best was yet to come for an extraordinary teenager, who stood two points away from winning the Miami crown against Roger Federer. Nadal bounced back and lifted 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 grab another title and 300 ATP points that propelled him into the top-10 for the first time in his career.

At 18 years and ten months, Rafa became the eighth-youngest player in the mentioned group since the beginning of the ATP ranking in 1973. 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 pass Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer.

Two years ago, he finally moved in front of the leader of the pack Jimmy Connors to top the charts and claim the record. Rafa will finish the current season in the top-10 for the 18th straight year, an achievement that will take some beating in the future.