Perspective: Can Nadal Retain the No. 1 Ranking During the Clay Court Season?

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Rafael Nadal


The month of May is set to be an intriguing one on the ATP World Tour, as the battle for the No. 1 commences, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic locked in the front lines ahead of the Madrid Open.

The Spaniard worked his way back up the rankings in an inspirational 2013, after he had suffered a knee injury that forced him onto the sidelines for the majority of the 2012 season. Key victories at the French Open and the U.S Open, as well as five Masters 1000 titles helped him usurp the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic in October, and he has held it ever since. While his 2013 season was a fantastic one, Nadal has only managed to win two titles so far this season, losing in the Australian Open finals, and in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo.

Nadal holds 12900 points and will need to defend 1860 points against Djokovic, who currently holds 11040 points, to secure his ranking. This means that Djokovic will have to win the Madrid title, as well as Nadal losing before the quarter-final for the Serb to usurp the No. 1 ranking. Djokovic lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the Madrid second round last year and has only 10 points to defend, compared to the 1000 points that Nadal will defend. The tournament begins Sunday.

Nadal and Djokovic have clashed 40 times on the professional tour – easily surpassing the previous Open Era record held by John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl (36). It is the only rivalry that can boast finals in all four Grand Slam finals, as well as a record 20 Masters 1000 finals. In Grand Slams, Nadal leads 8–3, yet Djokovic holds a 11-9 record overall in finals. The Serb also leads the hard court series 14-7 (11-5 on outdoor courts). He has also won their last three consecutive meetings, including a straight sets victory in Miami last month.


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