For talented and hard-working players, it is not that hard to enter the top-50 a couple of years after the first full seasons on the ATP Tour. Rafael Nadal didn't waste time while making a breakthrough on the ATP ranking list, cracking the top-50 for the first time in August 2003, just after turning 17!
After a nasty injury in April, Nadal lost ground a bit in 2004, standing around the 50th place for a couple of months and settling inside the top-50 again following the fourth round at the Australian Open 2005. From January 31, 2005, Nadal has continuously been ranked in the top-50, improving his position after a rock-solid season and becoming world no.
2 by the end of the season, winning a Major crown and four Masters 1000 titles. From the end of April 2005, Nadal has never left the top-10 group, earning many ranking records and finishing as the year-end no. 1 for five years, including the previous one.
Rafa will not repeat the feat in 2020, standing second behind Novak Djokovic but still achieving noble ranking numbers. This Monday, Rafael Nadal became the fifth player in the Open era with 800 weeks in the top-50, following Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer on the exclusive list.
To enter the charts, one has to spend no less than 15 years in the selected group, avoid injuries and deliver consistent results one season after another. Almost 20 years after making a professional debut, Nadal is still among the players to beat, winning two ATP titles in 2020 and defending the Major crown at Roland Garros to enter the record books.
Rafael Nadal is the fifth player with 800 consecutive weeks in the top-50.
After tough losses to Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open, Nadal lost the ATP throne after Melbourne, winning the crown in Acapulco a month later, a couple of days before the coronavirus outbreak.
Spending the next six months at home in Mallorca, Nadal started to practice in May, deciding to skip Cincinnati and the US Open and preparing for beloved clay in Rome and Paris. Diego Schwartzman defeated Rafa in the quarter-final in the Italian capital, sending the Spaniard to Roland Garros with only three matches since March!
Returning to his kingdom, Nadal claimed the 13th crown from 16 trips to Paris, securing the 20th Major title to match Roger Federer's record. At 34, Rafa won all seven matches in straight sets, marching into the quarters and standing strong against more formidable rivals to confirm his clay-court supremacy once again.
In the title match, Nadal ousted Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes, remaining undefeated in Roland Garros finals and securing the 14th season with at least one title on the highest level.