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Rafa Nadal clinches Year-end No. 1 ranking

World number 1 Rafael Nadal opened his Paris campaign with a 7-5 6-3 triumph over Hyeon Chung in an hour and 48 minutes, clinching his 66th victory of the season and the Year-end number 1 spot in the rankings, moving safely away from Roger Federer’s reach before the ATP World Tour Finals in London in 2 weeks time. 16-time Grand Slam champion will finish the season as the highest-ranked player for the 4th time in his career, after 2008, 2010, and 2013, joining Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Novak Djokovic who also managed to achieve this honor on 4 occasions.

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It was a slow start for both players, Nadal had to save a break point in the opening game and he suffered a break next time around when Chung stroke a forehand down the line winner to move 2-1 in front. Rafa broke back in the following game after an entertaining point at the net, but he was still in danger, having to play against 3 break points in game 5.

Rafa made the crucial move when he broke at love in game 8, thanks to a poor forehand from his rival, and he didn’t need the second invitation to score one of the most important wins of the season, crossing the finish line when Chung made another forehand error.

Nadal becomes the first player to hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 on three occasions. He is also the first player to finish No. 1 four times in non-consecutive years, the first aged over-30 and the first to finish in the top spot four years since he last achieved the feat (2013). The nine-year gap between his first year-end No. 1 season (2008) and his last (2017) is also a record.

“I’m very, very happy for everything,” said Nadal in his on-court interview. “It has been an amazing year. One year ago, for sure I never dreamed about being World No. 1 again at the end of the season. It’s something that means a lot to me. But the season is not over.”

This month, the Mallorcan is not only looking to win his first Rolex Paris Masters trophy, which would represent a record 31st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, but is also aiming to clinch his first title at the Nitto ATP Finals, which he has qualified for on 13 straight occasions (seven appearances) since 2005.

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