Rafael Nadal keeps year-end No. 1 chances while staying at home

Rafael Nadal is back in the top-2 for the first time since May last year. The Spaniard missed a chance to conquer the ATP throne after the US Open, leading the ATP Race since the start of the season before losing it to Carlos Alcaraz after New York. The 22-time Major winner claimed two notable titles this season to pass Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and top the charts. However, Nadal missed a chance to add more points to his tally, skipping Monte Carlo and Barcelona and struggling in Madrid and Rome on his beloved clay. Rafa did not get 720 points for the Wimbledon semi-final and experienced an abdominal injury at the All England Club. Nadal left London with a seven-millimeter muscle tear and played only one match ahead of the US Open. Feeling the pain in his abdomen again, Rafa beat three rivals in New York before falling to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round.

Rafael Nadal will take advantage of his rival’s early losses.

Thus, the Spaniard left the door open for Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud to pass him and battle for the trophy and a Major crown. Alcaraz left New York as the seventh-youngest Major winner after beating Ruud in four sets, adding 2000 points to his tally and becoming the youngest world no. 1. Carlos is 650 points in front of Rafa in the ATP Race, looking good to finish the season at the top. While Nadal is still recovering from an injury and will probably miss all the events before the Paris Masters, Alcaraz and Ruud had a chance to add valuable points at the ATP 500 events in Astana and Tokyo. Instead, Nadal walks away as a winner from this week’s tournaments despite staying at home, as both of his rivals made early exits! The Norwegian fell to Jaume Munar in Tokyo, while the young Spaniard experienced a loss to David Goffin in Astana.

Goffin entered the main draw as a lucky loser and used his chance against the world’s leading player, beating him 7-5, 6-3 in an hour and 46 minutes. The Belgian prevailed in the opener and sealed the deal in the second, moving into the second round and delivering the Spaniard’s first straight-sets loss in 2022. David saved seven out of ten break points and turned over half of the return points into five breaks that carried him home. Alcaraz and Nadal are still the year-end no. 1 favorites despite not having an impressive record at indoor events. Both players will take a break in the next two weeks, and Carlos will have another chance to increase the advantage over Rafa in Basel in the last week of October. If Nadal recovers, he will give his best to chase the sixth year-end no. 1 honor in Paris and Turin despite never winning those tournaments.