x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Nadal's numbers are adding up

A total of 6,880 points takes him back to the world No 2 thus avoiding a clash with Roger top-ranked Federer, until the final of the French Open at Roland Garros.


Rafael Nadal has had much to celebrate since returning to his favourite European clay last month after enduring what has been the most traumatic year of his tennis life. Of all the statistics churned out during a triumphant Masters Series sequence which stretched through Monte Carlo, Rome and then Madrid last weekend, the one which will surely please the rehabilitated Spaniard most is the number 6,880.

That is Nadal's latest rolling total of ATP rankings points accumulated over the past 12 injury-interrupted months. It takes him back ahead of Serbia's Novak Djokovic to No 2 in the world, guaranteeing that he cannot meet Roger Federer, the world No 1, until the final of the forthcoming French Open at Roland Garros. The two top names in the men's game have enjoyed a fascinating, friendly and, above all, respectful rivalry since the emerging Nadal stunned Federer, the Wimbledon champion, in an early round of the Miami tournament in 2004.

Nadal has gone on to notch up 13 more victories over the Swiss, 12 of them in finals of important events all around the world. It would have been a travesty if the undisputed King of Clay - he was unbeaten at Roland Garros from his debut in 2005 to his shock fourth-round defeat by Robin Soderling last year - had been drawn in Federer's half of the 128-man field for the second grand slam tournament of the year.

Federer would also have dreaded that possibility of a premature reunion with his nemesis as he prepares to defend what proved to be, until Nadal's injury problems of last summer, the most difficult to win of his 16 grand slam titles. A 22nd showdown in Court Philippe Chatrier on June 6 between the pair who have dominated men's tennis for the past decade is far from a certainty, as Soderling famously demonstrated last year, but it is a much more appealing prospect than a semi-final tussle. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae