Entering the US Open, first-placed Rafael Nadalled Novak Djokovic by just 140 points in the ATP Race To London, representing the battle for year-end World No. 1. By claiming his fourth trophy in Flushing Meadows, Nadal has significantly increased his advantage.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion extended his lead to 1,960 points, putting himself in prime position to finish the season No. 1 for the fifth time in his career. If the Spaniard accomplishes the feat, he will join ‘Big Three’ rivals Djokovic and Roger Federer, as well as Jimmy Connors, in a tie for the second-most year-end No. 1 finishes. Pete Sampras holds the record of six year-end No. 1 finishes (achieved in consecutive years from 1993-1998).
“If I am able to be No. 1 doing [it] my way, great. But I always say the same: today it’s not my main goal. Of course, it’s great to be in that fight,” Nadal said. “But for me personally, it’s not really a fight. I just try be competitive the weeks that I need to compete, or the weeks that I want to compete... If I am able to play well until the end of the season, I’m going to have my chances. That going to be amazing.”
The Race is nowhere near over, though, with two months remaining in the season and plenty of points up for grabs. Just last year, Djokovic claimed 2,600 points after the US Open. At the two remaining ATP Masters 1000 events — the Rolex Shanghai Masters and the Rolex Paris Masters — and the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals, a player can add as many as 3,500 points to their total.
Nadal finished as the year-end No. 1 player in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017. In the latter three, Nadal won the US Open. Each time he has triumphed a the US Open — in 2010, 2013 and 2017 — the Spaniard has gone on to finish the season atop the ATP Rankings.