Nadal caps re­mark­able year ranked No. 1

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY SA­MUEL PETREQUIN

LON­DON | Ex­actly one year ago, as the world’s best ten­nis play­ers faced each other in Lon­don at the sea­son-end­ing fi­nale, Rafael Nadal couldn’t even prac­tice.

Try­ing not to look too far ahead, the Spa­niard was at home in Spain, just think­ing about his badly in­jured knee. Nadal didn’t know if he would play com­pet­i­tive ten­nis again.

“The thoughts about the fu­ture? Just fo­cus on [try­ing] to find a so­lu­tion for my knee, and that’s it. Work­ing ev­ery day, try­ing to do dif­fer­ent things to try to be back,” the 13-time Grand Slam win­ner said Wed­nes­day of his feel­ings at the time.

Things have changed dra­mat­i­cally.

Twelve months later in Lon­don, Nadal capped his re­mark­able come­back on Wed­nes­day by clinch­ing the year-end No. 1 spot for the third time in his ca­reer.

Just nine months af­ter re­turn­ing from his ca­reer-threat­en­ing in­jury, Nadal be­came the first player to hold, lose and re­gain the year-end No. 1 spot twice by beat­ing Stanis­las Wawrinka 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) at the ATP fi­nals. Roger Fed­erer and Ivan Lendl did it once in their ca­reers.

Nadal, who beat Wawrinka for the 12th time in as many matches, can’t be over­taken by No. 2 No­vak Djokovic.

It’s the first time since 2010 that the Spa­niard, who re­turned from a sev­en­month in­jury lay­off in Fe­bru­ary, ends the year as the top-ranked player.

“It is one of the best things that I did in my ca­reer: come back to No. 1 af­ter three sea­sons. That’s very dif­fi­cult in our sport, and af­ter a very im­por­tant in­jury,” Nadal said af­ter cel­e­brat­ing with fist pumps and leaps as if he had won the tour­na­ment — the only ma­jor event miss­ing from his vic­tory col­lec­tion.

Nadal ad­vanced to the semi­fi­nals of the year-end tour­na­ment be­cause of his straight-sets vic­tory over the Swiss.

The Spa­niard’s sea­son will be re­mem­bered as the story of a stun­ning come­back dur­ing which he cap­tured 10 ti­tles — in­clud­ing two Grand Slams.


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