Just a few weeks outside the Australian Open 2021, Rafael Nadal has quietly achieved a world record that may never even come close to being touched by any of his colleagues. One of the most consistent performers on the circuit, Rafa has overcome injuries and tough competition to achieve yet another milestone in his career - 800 consecutive weeks within the ATP's Top 10 rankings. While he may be lagging behind Djokovic in terms of Masters 1000 wins, Rafa has equalled Roger Federer's - once seemingly untouchable - record of 20 Grand Slams and unlike Federer, seems to be on track to win a few more.
With the rankings refresh on Monday, 18 January, Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal completed a staggering 800 consecutive weeks ranked inside the Top 10 ATP players. If the figure does not register at once, 800 weeks amounts to roughly 15.3 years - almost half of the 34-year-old's entire life. For some added context, this means that since Rafa made his ATP professional debut all the way back in 2001, he has only spent four years not being a top 10 player. Rafa broke into the Top 10 on April 25, 2005, just a few months before he won his first title at Roland-Garros and the rest is history.
The closest he ever came to relinquishing this spot was during a 7-week stretch at No. 10 from June 8, 2015, to July 27, 2015. One of the biggest contributors to Rafa's longevity at the top levels of tennis has been his absolute domination on Clay. Boasting an insane 13 title at the French Open, Rafa has earned at least 2000 points from the Slam every year, helping him stay afloat even as he went down in smaller level tournament like the Masters 1000. While he may not have won too many of the other Slams, it has been rare to see Rafa drop out of them before at least the quarterfinals/semis - another indicator of his consistency over surfaces and time.
On his way to 800 consecutive weeks, Nadal broke Jimmy Connors’ top mark of 789 in November last year. He also surpassed longtime rival Roger Federer, who finished 734 consecutive weeks in 2016 after a knee injury pushed him down to No. 17. Novak Djokovic meanwhile, ended a decade-long run from 2007-17 after suffering an elbow injury that dragged him down to a low of No. 22 in 2018. The next record Rafa could be eyeing is the overall weeks in the Top 10 - a category dominated by Federer at 931 weeks and Jimmy Connors, whose 816 weeks Nadal should cross in 16 weeks!
As the youngest entrant into this trio, Djokovic currently lags behind in sixth place with 656 weeks in the Top 10.