Nadal's Big Titles On Clay Boost No. 1 Hopes
Spaniard's three 'Big Titles' in past two months give him Race lead
By virtue of his stellar performances this season, and particularly over the past two months, Rafael Nadal has thrust himself to the forefront of the sport once again and in strong contention for his fourth year-end No. 1 finish in the Emirates ATP Rankings (2008, 2010, 2013).
In winning 24 of his 25 matches on the European clay-court swing, the Spanish superstar has lifted three 'Big Titles' - his 10th Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, his fifth Mutua Madrid Open and his 10th Roland Garros crown. The Open Era leader for most clay-court titles won (53), also picked up his 10th Barcelona OpenBanc Sabadell trophy in April.
With 45 'Big Titles' - 15 Grand Slams and 30 ATP World Tour Masters 1000s - it has inched Nadal closer to long-time rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The Spanish superstar wins one big title for every 3.5 events played, an average marginally bettered by Djokovic, whose 47 elite titles have been captured for every 3.4 events played.
Nadal currently leads the Emirates ATP Race To London, a calendar-year points race that started in the first week of January, with 6,915 Race points. As the first player to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, he is 2,870 points ahead of No. 2-placed Roger Federer, winner of 50 'Big Titles', who has 4,045 Race points. From 17 April to 12 June, Nadal has added 4,680 Race points from five events to his total.
When asked about an assault on No. 1, following his historic title run in Paris, the 31-year-old Nadal said, "I am playing well and I am in a good position... If I am able to keep playing well, [then] why not?"
Current and Former Champions' Big Titles Won (Records Since 1990)
|Player||Grand Slams||ATP Finals
|Roger Federer||18/69||6/14||26/125||50/208 (4.2)|
|Novak Djokovic||12/50||5/10||30/98||47/158 (3.4)|
|Rafael Nadal||15/48||0/7||30/103||45/158 (3.5)|
|Pete Sampras||14/52||5/11||11/83||30/146 (4.9)|
|Andre Agassi||8/61||1/13||17/90||26/164 (6.3)|
|Andy Murray||3/45||1/8||14/96||18/147 (8.2)|
|Boris Becker*||2/26||2/6||5/51||9/83 (9.2)|
|Thomas Muster||1/29||0/4||8/53||9/86 (9.6)|
|Gustavo Kuerten||3/33||1/3||5/67||9/103 (11.4)|
|Jim Courier||4/38||0/4||5/71||9/113 (12.6)|
|Stefan Edberg**||3/28||0/4||1/24||4/56 (14)|
|Marcelo Rios||0/26||0/1||5/56||5/83 (16.6)|
|Michael Chang||1/50||0/6||7/86||8/142 (17.8)|
|Marat Safin||2/41||0/3||5/87||7/131 (18.7)|
|Andy Roddick||1/46||0/6||5/75||6/127 (21.2)|
* Becker's four other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.
** Edberg's three other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.
All eyes now turn to Federer to see how the Swiss will respond in the No. 1 battle as the ATP World Tour moves to grass in the next five weeks. The 35-year-old is making his eagerly anticipated return to action at this week's Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. Nadal is scheduled to compete at next week's Aegon Championships.
Since 2004, the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings has either been first or second in the year-to-date standings after Roland Garros.
Nadal has been among the top two in the year-to-date standings after Roland Garros in 11 of the past 14 years. This is the first time since 2010 that Nadal and Federer occupy the top two spots in the Emirates ATP Race To London at this stage in the season.