For the eighth time in his career, Rafael Nadal has become world no. 1 on Monday, passing Novak Djokovic after the Serb lost the points from the last year's ATP Finals. In Paris, Nadal was forced to withdraw before the semi-final clash with Denis Shapovalov, allowing Djokovic to reduce the deficit in the ATP Race to 640 points ahead of the showdown in London next weeks.
The Serb had been ranked first for the last 52 weeks and had to give the throne to Nadal, hoping to get back there in two weeks if he manages to erase that deficit and finish the season at the top for the sixth time. Until then, the spotlight is on Nadal who is spending the 197th week as world no.
1 in his eighth stint since the first time he ascended the throne in August 2008 at the age of 22. More than 11 years later, the Mallorcan is still at the top of his game, conquering the highest ladder at the of 33 years and five months to become the second-oldest top-ranked player after Roger Federer.
Before them, Andre Agassi was the only player who had ruled the men's tennis at the age of 33, with Novak Djokovic likely to join the exclusive group after May next year. Nadal has won 51 out of 57 matches so far in 2019, lifting trophies in Rome, Roland Garros, Montreal and the US Open and advancing into the semi-final in ten straight tournaments after Acapulco where he wasted match points against Kyrgios.
Rafa kicked off the year at the Australian Open where he reached the final without losing a set, suffering a tough defeat to Novak and playing only two tournaments before clay, that one in Acapulco and at Indian Wells where he had to withdraw before the semi-final clash versus Federer.
Almost like never before, Nadal failed to deliver his 'A game' on clay, failing to reach the final in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before going all the way in Rome and Roland Garros to earn crucial 3000 points that kept him in touch with Novak.
At Wimbledon, Roger halted Rafa in the semi-final and the Spaniard made a perfect transition to hard courts, winning Montreal and the US Open for another block of 3000 points that made him the ATP Race leader ahead of Djokovic.
Rafa had to skip all the action before Paris, playing only one match at the Laver Cup and suffering another injury in the French capital that could drive him away from the ATP Finals and that year-end no. 1 battle with Novak.