Rafael Nadal returns to No 1: Statistical look at ATP rankings and three-way race for top spot at US Open

Rafael Nadal returned to the top of the ATP Rankings on Monday for his fourth stint as the World No 1. Nadal, who had already spent 141 total weeks at No 1 in the past, replaced Great Britain’s Andy Murray, who had held the top spot for 41 weeks since 7 November, 2016.

The Spaniard first rose to No 1 on 18 August, 2008 at the age of 22, and he last held top spot three years and 45 days ago on 6 July, 2014.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray all have a shot at World No 1 at the US Open. Reuters

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray all have a shot at World No 1 at the US Open. Reuters

"Being No 1 after all the things that I have been going through the last couple of years is something unbelievable, so [it] is, for me, an amazing achievement to be back to that position after [a] few years, three years," Nadal was quoted as saying in an official press release by the ATP.

"It's been tough to get back to No 1," he said. "I'm happy to be in that position again," he said.

In the latest rankings released on Monday, Nadal leads the rest of the pack with 7,645 points — he has 500 more points than World No 2 Murray and 505 than No 3 Roger Federer.

Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic, who have both ended their 2017 season early, occupy the fourth and fifth spots but are expected to fall out of the top-10 soon as they will miss the upcoming US Open. Wawrinka and Djokovic were the finalists in 2016, with the Swiss ace clinching the title.

German rising star Alexander Zverev cemented his place in the top-10 after winning the ATP Masters title at Montreal but lost out early at Cincinnati. Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem round up the top-eight of the latest men's rankings.

The visualisation below depicts how the current top-eight have fared since the start of the 2017 season. While the scores graph indicates the total points they have accumulated since January, the ranks graph is a relative representation between these players.

Zverev started the season ranked 24 while Federer was down to 16 after missing the latter half of the 2016 season. The image below gives an actual representation of how the players' rankings have shifted over the last eight months. With two Masters titles to his name, Zverev is one of the biggest movers this year so far. Federer's two Grand Slam titles (Australian Open and Wimbledon) and Nadal's record 10th French Open victory helped the two veterans in their rapid ascent up the rankings ladder.

Visualisation courtesy Infogram.

Visualisation courtesy Infogram.

Nadal will now look to stay ahead of his great Swiss rival and finish atop the year-end rankings for the first time since 2013 and for the fourth time in his career (2008, 2010, 2013).

The US Open starts on 28 August and the final Major of 2017 will be crucial in deciding who ends the year as No 1.

In a week's time, a three-way battle for the World No 1 ranking between Nadal, Murray and Federer will commence in New York.

Nadal defends 180 points as he reached fourth round in 2016, Federer doesn't defend any while Murray defends 360, as he reached quarter-finals. If we drop those points to understand where the players will stand once the tournament starts, here's how the standings look:

1. Nadal: 7,465

2. Federer: 7,145

3. Murray: 6,790

Murray has the most points to defend and will at least need to reach the semi-finals to stay in contention if all three players make the second week of the Slam. If either Federer, Nadal or Murray win the title, that player would be crowned No 1 regardless of how the other two fare.

The other scenarios depend on how far each of these players progress — Federer will need to get a better result than Nadal to be No 1. Here's a look at the number of points a player receives for every round at a Grand Slam.

Winner: 2,000 points

Runner-up: 1,200 points

Semi-finalist: 720 points

Quarter-finalist: 360 points

Round of 16: 180 points

Round of 32: 90 points

Round of 64: 45 points

Round of 128: 10 points

The Scot has had his fair share of troubles this year, with a hip injury forcing him to withdraw from the recent tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati. The 30-year-old flew to New York on Friday to prepare for the event and is hopeful that he will be able to compete at his best.

Since lifting the trophy at Roland Garros, Nadal made the last-16 at Wimbledon and Montreal, and the quarter-finals at Cincinnati. However, his track record on the American hardocurts suggest that he will have a tough time at Flushing Meadows. He hasn't won a hardcourt Slam since 2013, and was ousted in the fourth round in his last outing in New York.

Federer will be one of the favourites for the US Open title but the 36-year-old is under an injury cloud as well. Federer withdrew from Cincinnati after pulling his back in the Montral final against Zverev. But the Swiss ace has shown that with suitable rest, he has the ability to bounce back strong.

With plenty of uncertainty hovering over the last Grand Slam of 2017, the race for the year-end No 1 is set for a tight finish.

Updated Date: Aug 21, 2017 18:32 PM

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