22-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will return to the top-2 on Monday, beginning his 580th week in the said group and extending the record. Nadal will replace Casper Ruud in the elite group and reach his highest rank in May 2021.
Rafa has no points to defend for the rest of the season and Ruud couldn’t stay ahead of him after the quarter-final defeat in Seoul. The Norwegian won the title in San Diego last year and was unable to defend 250 points, allowing the Spaniard to catch up with compatriot Carlos Alcaraz at the top.
Nadal will find himself in the top-2 for the first time since he was 35. Rafa will surpass Novak Djokovic to become the third oldest top-2 player since 1973. At 36 years and three months, Nadal is only behind Roger Federer (37 years two months) and Ken Rosewall (40 years seven months).
The Spaniard missed the chance to become world No. 1. 1 after the US Open for the first time in two and a half years.
Rafael Nadal becomes the third oldest top 2 player.
Despite this, he lost to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, allowing Carlos Alcaraz to take the throne.
The fact that Rafa can return to the top-2 more than 17 years after breaking through said group speaks enough about his consistency and incredible results at different moments of his career. Nadal claimed eleven ATP titles in 2005, including Roland Garros and four Masters 1000 crowns.
Rafa found himself in the top-2 at the end of July and stayed there for four years. Nadal was back in the top two group in 2010, 2011 and 2012 before losing some ground. Recovering from injury, Rafa again became the best player in the world in 2013, staying in the top-2 until the end of 2014.
The Spaniard waited a couple of years to extend his run and struggled with injuries over the following three seasons. Rafa returned to the top in 2017 after an incredible run that saw him win two Majors. Nadal secured four year-end top-2 honors between 2017 and 2020 to extend his run and become the player with the most weeks in the top-2 since the rankings began in 1973.
Rafa couldn’t repeat that in 2021 after playing just 29 games, struggling with an injury and making a perfect return in 2022. Second in the ATP race behind Carlos Alcaraz, Nadal hopes to wrap up another season in the top-2 by the end of the year and return to where he belongs.
Rafa is unsure when he will compete again as he and his wife are expecting their first child. Also, the Spaniard has been struggling with a stomach injury since Wimbledon, unable to serve properly and play 100%.