Spanish tennis pro Rafael Nadal will end 2019 as the ranked No. 1 player and with it comes a new, first-time accolade.
When the clock strikes midnight, Nadal will become the first tennis player – male or female — to be ranked No. 1 in three different decades.
The 33-year-old Spaniard, who has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles – including two this year – secured the year-end No. 1 ranking when Novak Djokovic was eliminated in the round-robin stage of the 2019 APT Finals. He is the oldest person to hold the ranking.
It marks the fifth time Nadal ends the year ranked first – a distinction also held by Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, and Djokovic. They all are behind American great Pete Sampras, who has a record six year-end No. 1 rankings.
There is an 11-year gap between Nadal’s first year-end No. 1 and this one.
“Great memories of this 2019 that is about to end,” Nadal wrote in an Instagram post Monday.
In 2019, Nadal raised two Grand Slam trophies – at the French Open (a record 12th title) and at the U.S. Open (his fourth). He also won the Italian Open, Rogers Cup (his fifth) and the 2019 Davis Cup Finals with Spain.
Djokovic and Federer, who are ranked No. 2. and No. 3 respectively, are the only active male tennis players who can match Nadal’s No.1 accolade. British pro Andy Murray, who also held No. 1 rankings in the last two decades, is currently ranked No. 87.
On the women’s side, Serena and Venus Williams, as well as Maria Sharapova, and Kim Clijsters (who announced her return from retirement in September), are the only active players to have reached No. 1 in two different decades.