Rafael Nadal cracked the top-10 in April 2005, still at 18. Sixteen years later, the 20-time Major champion is still among the world's leading players, celebrating the 800th consecutive top-10 week on Monday! Last November, Nadal moved ahead of Jimmy Connors when he confirmed the 790th straight week in the top-10 and has moved even further to reach the number that will hardly be beaten in the future.
Nadal is currently in Adelaide, embracing a two-week quarantine and preparing for his first official duties of the season at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open next month. The 16-year-old Nadal entered the 2003 season ranked just outside the top-200, playing high-level tennis to continue the meteoric progress through the ATP ranking list.
After 19 Challenger triumphs (title in Barletta and three finals) and the third-round appearance in Monte Carlo, Rafa cracked the top-100 in April and stayed on a steady course in the following months to find himself in the top-50 by August.
Despite a nasty injury that halted his progress in the spring of 2004, Nadal won the first ATP title in Sopot in August and helped Spain claim the Davis Cup title at the end of the season, gathering momentum ahead of 2005.
That proved to be Nadal's first great season, competing in the fourth round of the Australian Open before conquering Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on beloved clay.
Rafael Nadal is the first player with 800 consecutive top-10 weeks.
The best was yet to come for an extraordinary teenager, standing two points away from winning the Miami crown against Roger Federer and lifting 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 additional 300 points that propelled him into the top-10 for the first time! 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 after Aaron Krickstein, Michael Chang, Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi and Andrei Medvedev.
Embracing the top-10 honor on April 25, 2005, Nadal has never left the group, counting one great or at least reliable season after another to pass Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors to gather 800 top-10 weeks.
In his darkest seasons, Rafa had to deal with injuries in 2015 and 2016, staying away from Major titles and barely keeping himself in the elite group to continue his streak. Returning at his best in 2017, Rafa has been the top-2 player ever since, joining Federer on 20 Major crowns and standing strong ahead of the new season.