Being number one is not the goal anymore, says Nadal

Mon Nov 4, 2013 6:14pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Barring an unlikely set of circumstances over the next fortnight, Rafael Nadal will end a year as the world's top-ranked player for the third time but it will cut no ice with the Spaniard.

"Yes, I would rather be number one than not," the 27-year-old told reporters at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Monday. "(But) it's not the goal anymore."

This time last year Nadal was holed up in Mallorca recovering from a debilitating left knee injury that sidelined him for seven months and prompted many to doubt his longevity at the top of the sport.

Since returning in February, however, Nadal has soared to new heights, reaching the final of 13 of the 16 tournaments he entered, winning 10 of them including the French Open and the U.S. Open to take his grand slam haul to 13, just four behind the total of Roger Federer.

His dominance took him back above Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings on October 7 and, for the record, he will become the first player to twice regain the year-end No.1 spot after losing it should he win two matches here this week.

Even if Nadal flops on what he says is his least favored surface, Djokovic would still have to regain his title here and win his singles rubbers at next week's Davis Cup final against Czech Republic to stand any chance of overtaking the Spaniard.

Whatever happens, Nadal will not be losing any sleep over it.

"It was (a goal) to end the year as number one in 2008 because you want to have it so you can say you had a great career. It would be sad not to be," Nadal, wearing a white "Vamos Rafa" T-shirt, said at the giant Thames-side O2 Arena.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to compatriot David Ferrer in their semi-final match at the Paris Masters men's singles tennis tournament at the Palais Omnisports of Bercy in Paris, November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes