Rafael Nadal follows Roger Federer, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall on ranking milestone

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Rafael Nadal follows Roger Federer, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall on ranking milestone

The ATP ranking system started in August 1973, recognizing almost 60 top-3 players in the past 48 years. In 1975, the Aussie legends and veterans Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver counted their last weeks in the top-3 at 36 and 40, respectively, setting the age records that stood for decades.

Roger Federer cracked the top-3 after winning the first Major crown at Wimbledon 2003, staying competitive for two decades and enjoying his last top-3 week in February last year. At 38 years and six months, Roger became the second-oldest top-3 player since 1973 after Ken Rosewall and challenging Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to follow that pace in the upcoming years.

The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal celebrated his 35th birthday on Thursday, having a busy day at the office at Roland Garros and beating Richard Gasquet in the night session to remain on the title course. Still standing among the world's best players, Rafa became the fourth-oldest top-3 player since the start of the ATP ranking, entering an exclusive group of players who achieved that after turning 35!

At the end of June, Nadal should become the second player with 650 weeks in the top-3 behind Roger Federer, still playing on a high level after almost two decades on the Tour.

Rafael Nadal is the fourth player in the top-3 after turning 35.

Like Roger, Rafa cracked the top-3 after his first Major title at Roland Garros 2005, entering the exclusive group right after the 19th birthday and still keeping his place in it after so many years.

Staying in the top-3 until 2012, Rafa lost ground due to injuries and made another big push before massive problems in 2015 and 2016 when he barely stayed in the top-10. From 2017, Nadal was back at his best, regaining his Roland Garros dominance and never dropping out from the top-3 in the previous four years.

In the last couple of weeks, Daniil Medvedev pushed Rafa away from the top-2, and the Spaniard has to win a couple of more matches at Roland Garros to stay safe ahead of Stefanos Tsitsipas and add more top-3 weeks to his tally.

Nadal has won 20 out of 23 encounters so far in 2021, suffering a tough Australian Open loss from two sets to love up against Stefanos Tsitsipas and finishing his journey in the quarters in Monte Carlo and Madrid. Rafa saved a match point in Barcelona and Rome to claim two ATP titles and gather momentum ahead of Roland Garros, where he chases the 21st Major crown.