Rafael Nadal’s victory over Stanislas Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Wednesday saw him clinch the year-end Number One ATP Ranking status for a third time in his illustrious career.
The Spaniard fought hard to secure a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6) victory against the Swiss eighth-ranked to guarantee he cannot be overtaken by Novak Djokovic and reach the semi-finals of the season finale.
The 27-year-old, who also finished at the top in 2008 and 2010, becomes the first player to hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking on two occasions. Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl each accomplished the feat once.
“There are a lot of emotions today. I was a bit lucky but I’m happy to be through to the semi-finals in the last tournament of the year,” Nadal said.
“Being number one at the end of the season is something really difficult as there are some unbelievable competitors out there. But without my team behind me, it would be hard to think about achieving this.”
Nadal is yet to lose a set after two games out of the three round-robin Group A matches and is well on course to add a first ATP World Tour Finals to his lists of accolades at the O2 Arena in London.
Following a seven-month injury layoff, the Majorcan returned in February with a No. 5 ranking. He has won ten titles (including the French and the US Open) since his comeback on his way to reclaiming the World No. 1 in October, after reaching his 13th final in the 2013 season at the China Open in Beijing.
Nadal, who is making his sixth appearance at the season-ending championship (having qualified nine times), achieved his best finish in 2010, when he came in No. 1 and lost to Federer in the final.