Rafael Nadal is no stranger to setting records and reaching milestones, and he’s got another big one this week. It’s his 800th career week in the Top 10, just the third man ever to reach that number.
Only Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors have previously spent 800 total weeks in the Top 10.
Most career weeks in the ATP Top 10, as of the week of January 18, 2021:
931: Roger Federer
816: Jimmy Connors
800: Rafael Nadal
747: Andre Agassi
671: Ivan Lendl
(Novak Djokovic is currently in sixth place—this is his 666th career week in the Top 10.)
One note that makes Nadal’s 800 career weeks in the Top 10 even more impressive, though, is that they’ve all been together. It’s the longest consecutive Top 10 streak in the history of the ATP rankings, with Nadal having surpassed Connors’ previous record of 789 early last November.
Top 5 most consecutive weeks in the ATP Top 10, as of the week of January 18, 2021:
800: Rafael Nadal
789: Jimmy Connors
734: Roger Federer
619: Ivan Lendl
565: Pete Sampras
Nadal first broke into the Top 10 as an 18-year-old on April 25, 2005, following a two-week stretch that saw him win Monte Carlo and Barcelona for the first time. Six weeks later, he joined the major winner club at Roland Garros. Fast forward to today and he’s conquered Monte Carlo and Barcelona 11 times each, and Roland Garros 13 times—no other man has ever won the same ATP event more than 10 times.
The Spaniard’s 800 weeks in the Top 10 don’t include the 22-week period between March and August last year, when the ATP rankings were frozen while the tour was suspended due to COVID-19.
In two weeks, Nadal will kick off his 2021 season at the ATP Cup, where he guided the Spanish team to the final last year before they finished runners-up to Serbia, led by Djokovic. He’ll then begin his quest for his 21st Grand Slam title—which would break Federer’s all-time record—at the Australian Open.
The Spaniard may have only won the Australian Open one time, in 2009, but he’s been close so many more times. Not only has he reached the final four more times in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, but he’s reached the quarterfinals or better in 12 of his last 13 appearances at the event.
At last year’s Australian Open, Nadal was asked why he thinks he hasn’t gone all the way there as many times as everywhere else. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I have been a break up in the fifth set twice and I lost. Another time I was injured in the final, of course against a great opponent—but at that time an opponent that I had been 14-0 against him. I had a problem on my luck in the final. The other times, like 2018, I got injured against Cilic. I went through a couple things here.”
Will the extra time to prepare for this year’s Australian Open help Nadal finally win it again?