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Nadal Senses Chance For Year-End No. 1

Paris, France

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal won his seventh title of the season at Roland Garros.

World No. 4 Rafael Nadal capped yet another impressive stretch during the European clay-court swing by winning his eighth title at Roland Garros Sunday, making history along the way by becoming the first player to triumph eight times at the same major with a straight-sets win over David Ferrer.

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Nadal is now targeting a strong second half of the season, sensing his opportunity to legitimately challenge Novak Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking. This year, Nadal has amassed far more rankings points than Djokovic and the rest of his competition, winning seven titles and finishing runner-up twice in his first nine tournaments since returning from a left-knee injury in February.

“Without playing Miami and without playing Australia, today I have... many more [points] than what I thought or what I dreamed,” said Nadal. “Everything went much better than what I thought, so I'm in the position that if I'm still doing the things the right way, I'm going to have my chance to finish the year in a very good position on the rankings.”

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Though he has widened the gap over Djokovic, who he edged in the Roland Garros semi-finals, Nadal knows there is still a lot of work to be done if he wants to be the player who comes out on top at the season’s conclusion. Djokovic performed with incredible consistency in 2012, competing in 11 title matches, with six of those appearances coming in his final seven tournaments of the year.

“To be No. 1 in this era, you have to play during the whole season and do well during the rest of the season, because the rest of the players are very competitive. They're going to be there,” said Nadal. “I need to keep winning a lot of points if I want to have any chance to be No. 1 at the end of the season.”

The Mallorcan's next event will be Wimbledon. Nadal is a two-time former champion and has just 45 points to defend, having bowed out to Lukas Rosol in a shocking second-round defeat.

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