With Andy Murray out of action and recovering from a hip problem, the race for the top ranking spot–and the top seed at the US Open–would come down to the Cincinatti Masters. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were set to fight over the top spot in the 1000 point event.
Federer, though, has withdrawn from the event with a back problem, clearing the way for the Spaniard to return to the top spot, somewhere he hasn’t been in a very long time. You have to go back four years for Nadal to be the highest-ranking male tennis player in singles.
November 2013 was the last time Nadal was on top of the tennis world, when he secured the spot at the end of year event in London after defeating the other players in his round robin section, then defeating Federer in the semi final, before losing to Novak Djokovic in the final–however, he had already secured the ranking before that match.
The following year the Spaniard started the season at the Australian Open, but a suffered a back injury during the warm up in the final. Nadal was not able to take the final, losing in four sets to Stan Wawrinka, who overcame a 12-0 record against the left handed Spaniard.
As the year progressed Nadal’s ranking slipped down from the top spot to number three in the world, with the French Open the only Grand Slam title he claimed that year.
In 2015 things got worse for Nadal as he continued to struggle with injury and his ranking slipped further. For the first time in two years, the Spaniard was outside of the top four in the ATP rankings. One of the worst stats for Nadal at the time was at Grand Slams, where he had been 151-0 when he had won the first two sets. Fabio Fognini changed that at the US Open taking the Spaniard to five sets and defeating him over the distance.
The 2016 season saw Nadal drop down to number nine in the rankings, the last time Nadal had been outside of the top five was back in 2005, the Spaniard continued to struggle with injury and had very poor results at the Grand Slams, with the US Open being the one he progressed furthest in, and that was only to round four. The last time that the Spaniard had failed to reach the quarterfinal of every Grand Slam in a year was 2004.
A Gold medal in the men’s doubles at the Rio Olympics was the biggest title of the year for Nadal, a little consolation for the Spaniard who had not had a good year.
This current season has seen a resurgence in the Spaniard’s form, and with Murray and Djokovic falling due to injuries and Roger out of Cincinatti, Nadal has proved that he is one of the best in the world again, and the number one spot will be his for the US Open and possibly beyond.
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