Tennis Rankings: Rafael Nadal returns to top of men's pile; Ashleigh Barty closes season as highest-ranked woman's player
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic's fight for the top rank will now head to London in the ATP Finals but the Spaniard is facing injury issues.
Nadal has reclaimed the top spot in the ATP Rankings exactly a year on from the last time he held it on 4 November, 2018.
Nadal has enjoyed top ranking eight times in his career to equal the mark of Ivan Lendl
On the women's side, Ashleigh Barty will end an incredible season as the top ranked player after winning the WTA Finals
Rafael Nadal returned to the top of the ATP Rankings for the eighth time and exactly a year on from the last time he held the spot. He had completed 196 weeks at the top on 4 November 2018 and is back to reclaim that position. The Spaniard took over from Novak Djokovic after a run to the semi-finals at the Paris Masters.
Nadal will now look to stay ahead of the Serbian and finish atop the year-end rankings for the fifth time in his career (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017). Should Nadal clinch year-end No 1 at the ATP Finals, he would be the oldest player to do so in history. But the task won't be that easy considering the abdominal injury that forced Nadal to pull out of the semi-final in Bercy.
“I'm super happy with my season,” said Nadal to the ATP Tour website. “It was a tough beginning but then I was able to find a way to be back playing at a very high level of tennis and be in the situation that I am today. I'm very proud about the year that I am having.”
Nadal has enjoyed top ranking eight times in his career to equal the mark of Ivan Lendl and trail John McEnroe (14), Pete Sampras (11) and Jimmy Connors (9) for most periods at No. 1. The Spaniard has now been in the top spot at some stage in nine of the past 12 years (2008-11, 2013-14, 2017-19).
The 33-year-old has had yet another stellar season with four titles including the Roland Garros and US Open Grand Slams. He has followed them up with trophies in Rome and Montreal.
The gap between Nadal and Djokovic now stands at 600 points with ATP Finals in London to come.
Also moving in the top-10 rankings are Stefanos Tsitsipas (up to sixth) with quarters in Paris; Alexander Zverev dropping to seventh; Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut up to eighth and ninth; Gael Monfils has returned to the top-10 by making the quarters at Bercy where he lost to Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian, meanwhile, has reached a career-high 15th with a final appearance.
On the women's side, Ashleigh Barty will end the year as the top-ranked player in the world after beating Elina Svitolina in the WTA Finals in Shenzhen. The Aussie had, earlier in the year, become the first Australian to hit No 1 since 1976 and now she wraps up a Roland Garros winning season with the top spot.
Svitolina, the finalist, finished the year without a title to her name, but an unbeaten week in China saw her progress two places to sixth in the rankings.
The top three remain unchanged in women's rankings with Barty, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka. Simona Halep moved up a spot to fourth at the cost of US Open champion Bianca Andreescu. Petra Kvitova, Belinda Bencic and Serena Williams all dropped a place in the top-10 with Kiki Bertens moving up to ninth. Winner of WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, Aryna Sabalenka climbed three places to a respectable 11th.
Rafael Nadal asked for his racquet to be restrung, only for the ball boy to take the wrong one. The mix-up was cleared after a certain point in time.
Novak Djokovic had missed last year's US Open due to the country's COVID vaccine rules for international visitors, and is set to miss the upcoming Indian Wells and Miami events in spring for the same reason.
Novak Djokovic pulled his hamstring at Adelaide International but is training well and is confident of being able to play.