Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rafael Nadal: We're Still Having Fun and You're Still No. 1

"We've been together since way back when..."

The 2013 ATP World Tour season has been a tremendous year for Our Hero, Rafael Nadal, and therefore a very exciting year for all of his fans. Last year was so difficult having been out for 7 months with injury, missing the Olympics, The US Open and the Australian Open and seeing his ranking slide during his absence. He missed the game and the game definitely missed him. But look at where we are now! At this year's ATP Tour Final Championship Nadal got two special trophies. The first was for being voted the ATP World Tour Comeback Player of the Year (richly deserved) and the second was for earning the title of Year End No. 1. I'm so thrilled for him! It's had me singing that old Orleans song since the news became official last week. Coming back from injury, his ranking had fallen as far as No. 5, but he is now back at the top of the  Emirates ATP Rankings for the third time in his career, having also taken the title in 2008 and 2010. No player has ever regained the year end No. 1 ranking after a three year absence form the spot. Given all the obstacles in his way, this achievement is truly astonishing, and for me personally, truly inspiring.

You're still the one that makes me strong
Still the one I want to take along
We're still having fun, and you're still No. 1

Nadal completes this season with a remarkable 75-7 match record from 17 tournaments he entered. He reached the final in FOURTEEN of those tournaments and achieved a 10-4 record in those finals. His tournament wins include two Grand Slam tournament titles and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. He achieved this goal having gained NO ranking points in 2 of this year's 4 Grand Slam tournaments (He didn't play the Aussie Open and he lost first round in Wimby. So there are points still to pick up next year!)

Do we wish he'd have beaten Novak in the year end tournament final claiming that unique trophy for the first time ever? OF COURSE. But seriously, if you can't be happy with this successful of a year, following what had happened the year before, you have serious mental problems. Celebrate the victories and look forward to 2014!! With both Novak and Rafa healthy and at the top of their games the rivalry should continue to be riveting. They went 3-3 in their 6 match-ups this year. Nadal won their Grand Slam matches, but Novak got three big titles as well. It's amazing to think how the musical chairs of the top 6 players shifted around this year considering how things have ended up. To illustrate how Rafa and Novak have once again separated themselves from the pack, Nadal ends the year with 13,030 points, Novak has 12,110 points and then in 3rd place David Ferrer (!!) has... 5,800 points. So that's... quite a gap. I can't wait to see what happens next. Since Nadal has no points to defend in Australia in January and Novak has champion points to defend, the rankings should not change through the first few months of 2014. Nadal still has a slight career edge on Novak. I hope it's more wins for Rafa!

So enjoy your extremely short off-season, Rafa! It will seem like no time at all. Before he gets some well-earned R&R in Mallorca eating his shrimp and pasta and chocolate chip cookies, he travels to the British Virgin Islands for a charity event with Richard Branson and then hits an exhibition tour of South America with Novak in Chile and Argentina. In the blink of an eye, Nadal will then open his 2014 season in Doha, at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (which actually starts in 2013, but I guess it ENDS in 2014 so people aren't too fussy about it) and then I'll be off to see him in Melbourne for the Australian Open!! I can't wait. There is so much to be excited about in the 2014. I expect epic battles and tons of entertainment, and hopefully Rafa will continue to break records to our astonishment and delight. VAMOS!!!!!!

You are still the one that makes me shout
Still the one that I dream about
We're still having fun, and you're still No. 1...

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