One of Rafael Nadal’s coaches, Francisco Roig has said Nadal’s rise to No. 1 is a reward for the Spaniard’s hard work and dedication.
Roig said in an interview in Cincinnati yesterday – “Being World No. 1 is a consequence of good results. Since January, Nadal has had a spectacular year. He is very happy and ready to give his best at the US Open. Being No. 1 also means that he is playing great again, winning important matches and especially important tournaments. In some ways, this is the most important goal. Getting back to the top shows how good Rafa is, but also how long and successful his career has been.”
At age 31, Nadal has reclaimed the top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings and the return to the pinnacle of the game has a particularly great significance after two difficult years.
Nadal has won four titles in 2017, including his 10th Roland Garros crown, two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 (Monte Carlo and Madrid) and the Barcelona Open. Those trophies, plus good results in other tournaments such as The Australian Open, Acapulco and the Miami finals have lifted him to the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings once more.
“If we are especially happy, it is because we know that Rafa has been through a lot, that he has worked tremendously hard and also he has suffered a lot,” Roig admitted. “It is not an easy task to be here at age 31 and for sure it will be a confidence boost.
“Rafa now has his top level. He doesn’t have the fears of other seasons. In the past, you could see that the opponent could come out on court knowing that Nadal had lost a few more matches, and that would convince him he could win. But once you start winning more and more matches, it helps your confidence but also helps to intimidate your opponent a little bit. That shows you once more how good he is. Since 2005, he has been nine times in the Top 2, never left the Top 10 and he missed the No. 1 spot only a couple times because of an injury. He is great like Federer or Djokovic in that it will be difficult to see something like this again. Winning so many Slams, Masters 1000s… At the end, a Masters 1000 is way more difficult than a major. And he has 15 Slams!”
With the US Open starting just a week from today, Nadal will keep the top spot for at least three weeks, he is aware that if things go wrong in New York, he might not end the year in top position.
Being World No. 1 during the season is different from finishing the year in that position.
Nadal has ended the year as No. 1 on three occassons (2008, 2010 and 2013), but his goals now are to win the US Open and remain No. 1 until the turn of the new year.