A couple of weeks shy of his 36th birthday, Rafael Nadal is still ranked in the top-5. Rafa is the fourth longest player in the top-5 since 1973 after Ken Rosewall, Roger Federer and Rod Laver, keeping his game at a high level at this stage of his career and fighting for notable titles.
This week, Rafa celebrates a huge ranking milestone, becoming only the second player in ATP history with 800 weeks in the top five, behind Roger Federer. The Spaniard made his debut in the top five after winning the Rome Masters 1000 in 2005, still 19 years old.
It was Nadal's second crown in two months, and he won it after an epic victory over Guillermo Coria in the deciding tie-break after five hours and 15 minutes. Rafa became the sixth-youngest player in the top five since the inception of the ATP rankings and the first to do so before his 19th birthday since Michael Chang in 1989.
Nadal cemented his position with his first Major crown at Roland Garros in June, and he soon became the second-strongest link on the Tour behind Roger Federer. The great Spaniard remained in the top-5 for the next ten years, regularly upping his game and becoming one of the most accomplished competitors of all time.
After losing some ground in 2015 and 2016 due to injuries and poor form, Nadal had to drop out of the elite group of the top-5 for around 50 weeks. He returned in April 2017 after the Monte Carlo title and went on another streak with more than 200 consecutive weeks in the top-5.
Nadal battled Novak Djokovic for the ATP throne in 2018 and 2019, improving his run in the top-5 and closing in on the magical figure of 800. Rafa started the 2021 season in 2nd place, but was unable to keep up with his pace from previous years.
After a couple of injuries and ups and downs, Rafa was unable to maintain his position in the rankings from earlier in the year, dropping out of the top-5 after the US Open.
Tommy Haas reflects on King Roger
Former World No.
2 Tommy Haas believes Roger Federer still has a lot left in the tank and can fight for the big titles once he returns to action. During an interview with Bild, Tommy Haas said the 20-time Grand Slam champion would not attempt a comeback unless he believed he could still play at a high level.
"Roger seriously believes in his comeback and fights hard for it. He wants to know it again and not just deliver a PR appearance. I would never write Roger off. Maybe he won't necessarily win another Grand Slam. But he can always get to the quarter-finals or semi-finals – if he's healthy," Haas declared.