Rafael Nadal finishes the year as the world’s top male tennis player for the fifth time in his career after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP finals.
Finishing the year as world No.1 gives Rafael Nadal plenty of personal satisfaction despite the chance he may be knocked out of the season-ending ATP Finals later in the day.
Nadal battled back from a set down to stun Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 in a marathon two hours and 52 minutes on Friday.
However, Russian Daniil Medvedev must defeat defending champion Alexander Zverev for Nadal to get the chance to play Roger Federer in Saturday’s semi-finals.
“I’m not sure if I going to watch the match or not,” Nadal said.
“Happy for the victory. Then now I have to wait. So I’m not sure if I go for dinner with the family. I have to be ready for anything.”
Regardless, the 33-year-old Spaniard finishes the year as the world’s top tennis player after Federer eliminated Novak Djokovic on Thursday.
He received the commemorative trophy after Friday’s match as he became the oldest player to do so since the ATP Tour began in 1973.
In 2019, Nadal won a 12th French Open title and moved within one of Federer’s record 20 grand slam honours with his 19th major triumph over Medvedev at the US Open.
In doing so he overcame a series of injury problems in Indian Wells (knee) and Paris (abdominal).
“I think this trophy is the work of the whole year, a great year in all terms,” said Nadal, who also reached the Australian Open final and the Wimbledon semi-finals.
“(There) have been some tough moments at the beginning of the season in terms of physical issues that demoralise me a little bit.”
Nadal, who first became No.1 in 2008, adds that achieving the top ranking wasn’t a goal for this year.
He pulls level with Djokovic and Federer in topping the rankings for the fifth time.
He could have equalled their No.1 records sooner if it was not for injury-hampered years, Nadal said.
“You have to make decisions to try to play as long as possible or to try to fight for No.1,” he said.
“So that’s why I tried to do the conservative calendar in terms of save the body and everything.
“It’s important to share five years each other with Novak and with Roger, because (having) the chance to equal both of them after missing couple of years for injuries means a lot.”