When Rafael Nadal stole ultimate ranking record from Jimmy Connors

When Rafael Nadal stole the ultimate ranking record from Jimmy Connors

It only takes Rafael Nadal two and a half months to celebrate his 900th consecutive week in the top-10! The Spaniard broke the elite group in April 2005 after great results on hard and his beloved clay. Rafa never left the top 10, staying there during its darkest days in 2015 and 2016 and has maintained his position ever since.

In November 2020, Nadal celebrated his 1000th ATP victory in Paris. A week later, he secured another massive record, overtaking Jimmy Connors and becoming the first player with 790 consecutive weeks in the top-10. Connors and Nadal have ranked in the elite group for over 15 years without leaving it.

Now, despite injuries, Rafa is set to extend the record by over two years in 2021. Ranked just outside the top-200 in early 2003, 16-year-old Nadal played tennis at a high level that year to continue his meteoric progression through the ATP rankings.

After 19 Challenger triumphs (Barletta title and three other finals) and the third round appearance in Monte Carlo, Rafa cracked the top 100 in April. He stayed on a steady course over the following months to secure a spot in the top 50 in August.

Despite a bad injury that halted his rise in spring 2004, Nadal won the first ATP title in Sopot in August and helped Spain win the Davis Cup title, which gained momentum ahead of 2005.

Rafael Nadal became the player with the most consecutive weeks in the top-10 in 2020.

That was Nadal’s first great season on the tour as he competed in the fourth round of the Australian Open before conquering Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on the beloved clay.

The best was yet to come for an extraordinary teenager who was two points away from winning the Miami crown against Roger Federer. Nadal bounced back and clinched the first Masters 1000 trophy a few weeks later in Monte Carlo.

Hungry for more, Rafa went to Barcelona non-stop and defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero in the best-of-five final to claim another title and 300 ATP points, which put him in the top-10 for the first time in his career catapulted.

At 18 years and ten months, Rafa became the eighth youngest player in said group since the ATP rankings began in 1973. Nadal, who received top 10 honors on April 25, 2005, has never left the group and ranks a notable one or at least one reliable season after another to overtake Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer.

Two years ago he finally moved to the top of the charts ahead of pack leader Jimmy Connors and got the record. Rafa will end the current season in the top 10 for the 18th straight season, a feat that will have some beating going forward.

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