When Rafael Nadal earned L’Equipe World Champion of Champions award

Rafael Nadal has not played at his best in the previous two seasons, struggling during the pandemic and experiencing injuries that have halted him to one Major title and a single Masters 1000 crown in 2020 and 2021! Things were much different for the Spaniard in 2019, playing at his best at 33 and securing the fifth year-end no. 1 honor probably for the last time in his career. Rafa earned his fourth L’Equipe World Champion of Champions award thanks to his outstanding results, previously taking it in 2010, 2013 and 2017. Nadal overpowered Djokovic in the season’s closing stages to claim the ATP throne and become the oldest year-end no. 1 since the start of the ATP ranking in 1973. Sidelined since the 2018 US Open, the Spaniard made a strong return at the Australian Open four months later and scored 58 wins from 65 encounters. Nadal claimed four ATP titles and stood as the most consistent player on the Tour to secure the year-end honor and many awards.

Rafa became the only player with 16 consecutive seasons with at least one ATP title, conquering two Majors and standing on 19 ahead of 2020, just one behind Roger Federer. Nadal also grabbed two Masters 1000 crowns in Rome and Montreal, staying ahead of Novak Djokovic with 35 trophies at that level. His 12th Roland Garros crown was also the record-breaking one, making him the only player in history with that many titles at the single Major, reigning supreme in Paris in the last 15 years. After that tough loss to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, Rafa dealt with injuries in Acapulco and Indian Wells and withdrew from Miami. Instead of reaching his A-game on his beloved surface, Fabio Fognini, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas halted Rafa in the semi-final in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid and left him with no room for errors in Rome and Roland Garros. Nadal was back at his best in those weeks, claiming titles and 3000 points that kept him in the ATP Race with Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal claimed the L’Equipe World Champion of Champions award in 2019.

For the second year in a row, Nadal was the semi-finalist at Wimbledon, losing to Roger Federer in four sets and bouncing back in Montreal and the US Open for the hard-court magic and another pair of big titles on his tally. Rafa became the ATP Race leader, skipped the Shanghai Masters and returned in Paris, desperate to earn points and stay ahead of Novak. An injury forced the Spaniard to withdraw before the semi-final clash with Denis Shapovalov, traveling to the ATP Finals with 640 points advantage over Djokovic, who conquered the crown in Paris.

In London, Rafa suffered a tough loss to Alexander Zverev in the first match and had to raise his level in the next couple of encounters and defend his lead. Nadal overpowered Daniil Medvedev from the verge of defeat and prevailed over Stefanos Tsitsipas to secure 400 points and finish the season at the top, as both him and Djokovic failed to reach the semis. The Spaniard closed the year with the Davis Cup Finals title for his country and the record-breaking fifth Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown, taking down Stefanos Tsitsipas after over three hours to bring another trophy to his collection.