NEWS

Rafael Nadal seals end of year number one spot

November 2, 2017

Rafael Nadal has guaranteed that he will end the year as the world number one after winning his second round match in the Paris Masters.

The Spaniard beat South Korean Hyeon Chung 7-5, 6-3 at the Paris Masters to ensure his points tally cannot be beaten. This outcome was always likely after Roger Federer pulled out of Paris to prepare for the ATP World Tour Finals.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the event at the O2, which starts on November 12th, will now know who the best and second-best player of 2017 will be. However, there will still be the small matter of who can win the end of season tournament, with the big silver trophy being the one notable missing item from Nadal's extraordinary tennis CV. 

For both Nadal and Federer, 2017 has been an astounding year after they spent the latter part of 2016 nursing injuries, with many thinking their careers were winding down, with Andy Murray inheriting the crown after his surge to world number one. 

However, this year has seen an extraordinary comeback, with the meeting of the two veterans in the Australian open final as portentous as it was unexpected. 

While Federer won in Melbourne and added the Championships, Wimbledon, Nadal was back to his invincible best on clay as he took the French Open without dropping a set, and then added the US Open title for good measure. 

Speaking about his amazing revival to end the year in top spot, Nadal said: "It was impossible for me to think about when you are coming back from a tough time, without playing tennis and with so many injuries."

With his fitness no longer in doubt and both his serves and groundstrokes being hit with greater accuracy and power than they have for some time, only Federer has been able to stand up to Nadal. Indeed, the one conundrum the Mallorcan has been unable to solve this year has been the Swiss legend, against whom he has an overall winning record but has lost all three times they have met this year.

That issue could be the deciding factor if they meet in the final in the O2, but there will be six other men trying to scupper the dream final scenario. 

Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov are all sure to be there, with the likes of David Goffin, Juan Martin del Potro and Pablo Carreno Busta all seeking to clinch one of the other two spots through their Paris performances. 

The rankings will be updated again after Paris and this will see Andy Murray plummet from third to around 15th, a reflection of the loss of the points he won in the second half of his superb 2016.

However, the man Nadal replaced as world number one in the summer will no doubt take inspiration from the way Federer and Nadal have bounced back this year, as will other long-term injury victims Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic. 

Next week will see a recuperating Murray taking on Federer in the Andy Murray Live charity exhibition match in Glasgow, his first match of any kind since Wimbledon.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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