Rafael Nadal moves closer to Roger Federer
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 1398
The ATP ranking system kicked off in August 1973. In the past 50 years, only nine players have finished the season inside the top-3 after turning 30. John Newcombe and Ilie Nastase did that first before Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl joined the list.
Andre Agassi raised the bar in 2002, and only three legends have matched him. Roger Federer stopped the clock in 2019 and wrapped up the year inside the top-3 at 38 years and four months. Rafael Nadal is the second-oldest year-end top-3 player at 36 years and six months, moving closer to his great rival but needing another big run in 2024 to pass him, which will not be easy.
Rafa missed the second part of 2021 with a foot injury and returned to the top in the season behind us. Nadal is still among the world's best players, claiming two Major titles and wrapping up the year in the top-2. The veteran claimed his first Australian Open crown since 2009 following an epic win over Daniil Medvedev in the final after five hours and 24 minutes.
Rafa embraced a 20-0 start, his career-best, before losing the Indian Wells final after fracturing his left rib in the semi-final. Nadal missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona and struggled when he returned. He did not play at his best in Madrid and Rome, and his left foot bothered him again ahead of Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal is the second-oldest year-end top-3 player.
Nadal needed injections ahead of every match in Paris to kill the pain and play competitive tennis. Rafa provided his good old clay-court magic and defeated Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud for his 14th Roland Garros crown and the 22nd Major!
Nadal set his eyes on his first Wimbledon crown since 2010, but it was not to be. The Spaniard reached the semi-final following an epic victory over Taylor Fritz in five sets, giving his everything to prevail despite an apparent struggle.
However, he revealed a seven-millimeter abdominal tear that forced him to withdraw ahead of the Nick Kyrgios clash. Rafa would play only nine matches by the end of the season, winning four and failing to fight for the year-end no.
1 honor. The Spaniard embraced four consecutive defeats for the first time since the end of 2009 and beat Casper Ruud in the season's last encounter.