Rafael Nadal celebrates a massive achievement on this day, becoming the 24th ATP world no. 1 for the first time 15 years ago! The 22-year-old Spaniard ended Roger Federer's reign on August 18, 2008, passing his great rival after chasing him for over three years.
In 2005, 19-year-old Rafael Nadal became the most accomplished teenager since Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Boris Becker. Also, the Spaniard established himself as the second-strongest link on the Tour behind Federer. Nadal followed Federer on 11 ATP titles that year, including Roland Garros and four Masters 1000 crowns.
The Spaniard earned enough points to finish the season far ahead of Andy Roddick and others, starting the ultimate quest for the world no. 1 position. Nadal worked hard to improve his game on hard and grass in the next two seasons, reducing the gap to the Swiss, who stood above everyone between 2004 and 2007.
After four brilliant years that brought him impressive records, Roger slowed down in 2008, ultimately leaving the throne on August 18! The Spaniard had to wait until the clay season to grab his first title that year, previously losing in the final of Chennai and Miami and the semi-final of the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
Rafael Nadal became world No. 1 for the first time on August 18, 2008.
As usual, no one was there to stop Rafa in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg and Roland Garros. He secured his fourth straight title in Paris and mounted pressure on Roger.
Nadal's grass game had already been notably good after two Wimbledon finals in the previous years. However, he made an extra step on the fastest surface in 2008. Nadal toppled Novak Djokovic at Queen's and Roger Federer in that memorable Wimbledon final to lift two trophies and get within the no.
1 position. No one could halt Rafa that summer, as he conquered Toronto for the 29th straight victory! Nadal became world no. 1 when Federer suffered an unexpected loss to Ivo Karlovic in the third round. On August 11, Roger was still 25 points ahead of Nadal.
However, the Spaniard would become the 24th world no. 1 in history following Monday. Meanwhile, Nadal secured the Olympic singles gold medal in Beijing, beating Fernando Gonzalez to celebrate two outstanding achievements in two days!
Rafa went on to reach the US Open semi-final, and despite entering only two more events by the end of the season, he finished as the year-end no. 1 for the first time. Nadal ended Roger's reign that began in 2004, staying on the ATP throne until July 2009.
Rafa is among few players with over 200 weeks as world no. 1, spending his last time on the throne at the beginning of 2020 and failing to return there last year at 36 due to injuries.
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