A month ago, Rafael Nadal celebrated 16 consecutive years in the top 10, accomplishing the feat that will be hard to beat in the future. The 20-time Grand Slam champion enjoys his 817th week in the elite, taking second place on the list after leaving Jimmy Connors at 816, behind only Roger Federer.
Yesterday Rafa claimed the 36th Masters 1000 crown in Rome, adding 1000 points to his account and claiming the second title of the season that solidifies his top 10 status and keeps him safe for many more weeks and months.
Nadal, 18, reached the top 10 in April 2005. Sixteen years later, the 20-time Major champion is still among the best players in the world, celebrating the 800th consecutive week in the top 10 in January as the first! player to achieve it!
The 16-year-old Nadal entered the 2003 season ranked just outside the top 200, playing top-level tennis to pass rival after rival on the ATP rankings list. Despite a serious injury that halted his progress in the spring of 2004, Nadal won the first ATP title in Sopot in August and helped Spain secure the Davis Cup title at the end of the season, gaining momentum before 2005.
That turned out to be Nadal's first big season, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open before conquering Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on beloved clay.
Gilles Simon on Nadal and Djokovic
During an interaction, Gilles Simon also spoke about the cut-throat rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The two giants clashed against each other in the final of the Italian Open on Sunday, with Nadal winning 7-5, 1-6, 6-3. "The margin is shrinking, their level of play has dropped a little with the constraints of age, but they still reach the final," Simon said.
"I found Nadal and Djokovic less efficient than a few years ago. They have less margin, they are more and more hooked by increasingly different players, they have fewer and fewer quiet matches, but ... it holds! This is where you see they are strong," Simon said.
Many believe that Nadal would be better equipped to enter Roland Garros as the second seed, given his claycourt credentials. "We cannot do the rankings we want to do," Simon said. "The classification exists, the points have not been stolen.
I like this notion of classification. And Daniil deserves to be # 2. Otherwise, we just have to take a Twitter ranking or a Facebook ranking."