When Rafael Nadal passed Roger Federer’s milestone in terms of popularity

Since 2005, Rafael Nadal has maintained a top-20 ranking, including 18 consecutive year-end finishes. In two and a half months, Nadal will commemorate reaching 900 consecutive top-20 weeks, joining Roger Federer on that milestone.

Rafa joined Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors in December of last year as the third player with 850 consecutive top-20 weeks, setting a record that won’t be easily broken in the future. Nadal was just outside the top 50 when he was 18 years old at the start of 2005.

A teenager who had advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open in February triumphed at Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on his preferred clay surface. Rafa skipped Indian Wells and saved his strength for Miami, where he fell to Roger Federer in a close final despite being just two points from of victory.

The third player with 850 consecutive weeks in the top-20 is Rafael Nadal.

In the two months that followed, Nadal won in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and Roland Garros after breaking into the top-20 for the first time on April 4.

After Paris, the kid settled into the top-2 and became Roger Federer‘s main challenger. After entering the top-20 group in April 2005, Nadal has never left it. He accepted a remarkable record and joined Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer as the third player since 1973 to have played 850 straight weeks!

Since the end of April 2005, Nadal has never dropped out of the top 10, despite all of his injury setbacks, particularly in 2015 and 2016, and competing for over 20 years. After winning Roland Garros for the first time since 2014, Nadal bounced back stronger in 2017 and remained there until 2021, when injuries and only 29 ATP matches forced him to retire.

While suffering with injuries and failing to win a Major trophy just three times since 2005, Nadal won two ATP titles in 2021. Rafa put up all of the effort in Barcelona and Rome to win championships and maintain his top-10 ranking for 17 consecutive seasons.

After August, he took a break from playing in order to recover more quickly in 2022. With two Major victories this year, Nadal surpassed both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, capping off another illustrious year at age 36. After the US Open, Rafa had a chance to overtake Carlos Alcaraz as the number one player in the world, but he lost in the fourth round.