Rafael Nadal is guaranteed to claim the No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking this month after reaching the semifinals at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters with a 7-6(3), 6-1 victory over Ecuadorian Nicolas Lapentti on Friday night.
The 22-year-old Spaniard will replace Roger Federer as the new World No. 1 player in the South African Airways ATP Rankings this month. The timing of Nadal's rise to No. 1 depends on his results in Cincinnati:
- If Nadal wins the title, he will become No. 1 this Monday.
- If Nadal loses in the final he will become No. 1 on August 11
- If Nadal loses in the semifinals he will become No. 1 on August 18
Federer has held the top ranking a record 235 consecutive weeks (since Feb. 2, 2004) and Nadal has been No. 2 for a record 158 straight weeks (since July 25, 2005). The last player to rank No. 1 before Federer's reign was Andy Roddick the week of Jan. 26, 2004.
This is the first time that a new No. 1 player has been determined in Cincinnati since 1990 when Stefan Edberg won the title here on August 12. The following day he officially became No. 1, replacing Ivan Lendl.
The Spaniard will become the 24th player in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings (since 1973) to hold the No. 1 position. He will join countrymen Carlos Moya (1999) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003) to rank No. 1.
"Well, there are so many different things, no, so difficult to compare," said Nadal, when asked about becoming No. 1. "But when you win Roland Garros it's in the moment, no? It's, I don't know, very emotional. Right now I know I going to be No. 1 and I'm very, very happy to be No. 1. Be No. 1 always is, I think, is a present for a lot of work in the past, no? So that's satisfying me a lot. But for be No. 1 you only can be No. 1 winning Roland Garros, Wimbledon, so...
"I am very happy but at the same time, my goal is continuing be there (at No. 1). So my goal is continuing be there Olympics and US Open, so no time for enjoy."
Nadal, who also won his career-best 32nd consecutive match on Friday, has reached the semifinals or better in all nine ATP Masters Series tournaments in his career. He will attempt to become the first player to reach the final in all nine when he plays World No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals on Saturday. Nadal leads the all-time series 9-3, winning the last three meetings this year.