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Nadal: "I Played A Very Complete Season"

Beijing, China

Rafa2© Getty ImagesNadal will return to No. 1 for the first time since July 2011

Eight months since his highly anticipated comeback at Vina del Mar, Rafael Nadal is set to ascend to the No. 1 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday, having reached the China Open final.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, who was sidelined with a left knee injury from June 2012 until February 2013, credited his positive attitude for his success this season, which has seen him reach 13 championship matches in 14 tournaments. 

"I felt during the [whole] season, very excited, every time I [went] on court," said Nadal, adding that he mentally recharged during seven months away from the ATP World Tour. "[I was] very excited to compete again, and compete well, and [be] competitive against everybody."

"I worked hard every day with the right attitude I think, and because of that, I am today in this situation," said Nadal. "I am No. 1 today, but it's not [assured] for the end of the season."

The left-handed Mallorcan said he derived more satisfaction from his performance over the entire season to date, rather than from clinching the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking.

"I [won't] go to sleep tonight feeling that I am the best player of the world. That's something that I never thought, and I don't... think [that] now today," said Nadal. "I played a very complete season, and that's why I am the best in the rankings today."

The 13-time major winner said he's at his happiest when he enters a tournament feeling both competitive and healthy. "Without health, nothing is possible," said Nadal. 

Discuss on Facebook | Read About Rafa's Return to No. 1

If the Spaniard wins Sunday's final against either Novak Djokovic or Richard Gasquet, he'll equal his 2005 career-best haul of 11 titles. 

"I know tomorrow I going to have a very tough opponent.  I need to play my best, playing aggressive, playing without mistakes, being solid with my serve.  If these kind of things are not happening, I will not have chances," said Nadal. "I know what I have to do [but] it's very difficult to do it, because the level of the opponent is unbelievable."

Nadal, who is seeded second in next week's Shanghai Rolex Masters, said he would not be celebrating his ascension to No. 1. 

"Celebrations are for the end of the season, not before," he said, adding that even if he is not No. 1 by then, there will be plenty of reasons to cheer. "[It] is not my time for celebrations, it's time [to] keep being focused. The season is not over, my work is not over."

"[In tennis], when you achieve something important, you don't have time to celebrate [because] in a few days you will be... competing and playing against a player that is trying to beat you." Nadal added that once a player loses, they have an opportunity to win in a similarly short time. 

"I fight for every week, I fight every match."

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