No matter who ends up ruling New York on Sunday, Spain will rule the tennis world on Monday. Juan Martin del Potro’s defeat of Roger Federer in the US Open quarterfinals assured that Rafael Nadal will remain No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after Flushing Meadows. Incidentally, Garbine Muguruza, who will become No. 1 on the WTA tour come Monday, also hails from Spain.
This will be the first time since 2008 that Nadal will lead the tour immediately following the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, and it will be his fourth career stint at No. 1. Each of Nadal’s previous reigns lasted at least nine months, and there’s a good chance he’ll head into 2018 with the distinction. Nadal, who reclaimed the top spot on August 21, is defending just 100 ranking points after the US Open: 90 for a quarterfinal showing in Beijing, and 10 for a round-of-32 loss at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Shanghai.
The 31-year-old’s only real competition for No. 1 is the 36-year-old Federer, who will move past Andy Murray and into the No. 2 spot on Monday. Like Nadal, Federer has a great opportunity to amass ranking points this fall. While Nadal has practically nothing to defend, Federer actually has nothing to defend, given his decision to end his 2016 season after Wimbledon.
“Now I have Laver Cup, Shanghai, Basel, Paris, and London,” Federer said after his loss in New York. “That's my schedule, and it won't change. I hope I'm fully recovered and 100 percent fit when Laver Cup comes around. When that's over, I hope I'm going to arrive really early in Shanghai to really get ready and make it a priority for me to win that tournament.”
Had Nadal and Federer met at the US Open, the semifinal match would have been for the No. 1 ranking. While that didn’t come to pass, the winner-take-all scenario could occur in a variety of locations—and perhaps on multiple occasions—this fall.