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Rafael Nadal wins China Open

October 9, 2017

Rafael Nadal has solidified his position as the men's world number one by racing to victory in the China Open in Beijing, his sixth title of the year.

The Spaniard beat Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 6-1 in the final after the Australian lost his way following a positive start. Given Nadal's recent form, this meant there was only going to be one outcome and the victory means he now has 9,875 points, 2,375 more than Roger Federer.

With no points to defend at the back end of the year for either player after last year's injury issues, both will add to their totals, but Nadal is now almost certain to end the year as the world number one. 

The Spaniard has done this before, but one achievement he has not managed is to win the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals. Among his big four rivals, Federer has won the event six times, Novak Djokovic five and Andy Murray triumphed last year. 

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the event may feel this is Nadal's best ever chance, even if he may have to beat Federer. Nonetheless, the absence of Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori with injuries will boost the Mallorcan's hopes of filling in the last gap on his bulging tennis CV.

Kyrgios is still in the running to make the tournament, but three of the eight qualifying places have now been secured, with Alexander Zverev securing his slot alongside Nadal and Federer by reaching the semi-finals in China before losing to the Australian. 

With the event just over a month away, competition is hotting up and Belgian David Goffin has increased his chances by moving into the eighth qualifying position after securing his first ATP 500 tournament: the Japan Open. 

He followed up his victory in last month's Shenzen Open by defeating Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-5 getting both the points and the momentum to make a first appearance in the finals likely for the world number ten. Indeed, with one of the higher spots occupied by the injured Wawrinka, he is effectively seventh. 

While the competition for singles places hots up, there will also be the doubles to look forward to, with Britain's Jamie Murray and his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares currently in fourth place in the race to London after landing four titles this year.

However, the pair were unable to secure a fifth in Tokyo as they lost the men's doubles final to Japanese wildcards Ben Mclachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-4 7-6. It was the third final Soares and Murray have lost this year, the second in what has so far been a fruitful partnership, even if the Scot's only Grand Slam success in 2017 came in the US Open mixed doubles with Martina HIngis.

While the men are battling for position in London, Johanna Konta's hopes of making the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore are hanging in the balance after she was overtaken by Caroline Garcia.

The French star jumped ahead of the Briton into the automatic qualifying places by defeating the new world number one Simona Halep 6-4 7-6 in the Wuhan Open final. 

Konta has struggled for form recently and will need to at least reach the final of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow to guarantee her finals place.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription 

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