Nadal back on top of the world
Originally published on: 07/10/13 00:00
Despite finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the China Open in Beijing, Nadal leapfrogged his rival to return to top spot for the first time since July 2011.
It caps an incredible year for the Spaniard, who has reached 13 finals in 14 tournaments since returning from a knee injury in February.
“I am [No.1] and it’s something special for me,” said Nadal, who is set to increase his lead at the top of the rankings with no points to defend before the end of the season. “I'm enjoying the situation. I'm playing one of the best seasons of my career and probably one of the more emotional ones, too.
“I’m going to be in the top of the rankings for a few weeks. I need to keep playing well to try to finish No. 1 at the end of the season.”
“When you are injured at home, you can’t think about coming back and playing 13 finals in 14 tournaments. You never think about something like this,” added Nadal, who won 10 of those finals.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion now sets his sights on making history in Shanghai this week as he attempts to become the first player to win six Masters 1000 events in a single year. Nadal, who has won a record 26 Masters 1000 titles in his career, has never won the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
“It's an important tournament, one of the most important of the season because it's a Masters 1000 – you need to play against best players even in the first rounds,” he said.
Defeat to Djokovic on Sunday was only Nadal’s fourth defeat this season, bringing his incredible hard court winning streak to an end after 26 matches unbeaten in 2013.
Djokovic went into the final having already surrendered the No.1 ranking, but the Serb earned a morale-boosting 6-3 6-4 victory to avenge his US Open final defeat last month and take his head-to-head record to 16 wins from 38 matches.
"I needed this win today," Djokovic admitted. "I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013. It's very important for my confidence. It's very important mentally and emotionally for me."