Rafael Nadal will return to the top of the men’s tennis world rankings after advancing to the final of the China Open when Tomas Berdych retired with an injury.
Nadal needed to reach the title match in Beijing to supplant Serbia’s Novak Djokovic when the new rankings are released by the ATP World Tour in two days. The 27-year-old Spaniard was last ranked No. 1 in July 2011.
Nadal was leading 4-2 in the opening set of today’s semifinal when Berdych retired with a back injury. He will face Djokovic for the title tomorrow after the Serb beat France’s Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2.
Nadal, the reigning French Open and U.S. Open champion, has dominated the men’s tour since returning in February from a seven-month layoff due to a knee injury. The 13-time Grand Slam champion has won 10 titles and reached 12 finals, while compiling a 65-3 record.
“A great year, one of the best years of my career without any doubt,” Nadal, whose last loss came against Steve Darcis of Belgium, then ranked 135, in the first round of Wimbledon in June, said on the ATP website. “Sure is special to be back to the top position of the rankings after more than a half year without playing tennis.”
In the women’s draw in Beijing, top-ranked Serena Williams of the U.S. continued her domination of Agnieszka Radwanska to reach the final.
Williams won 6-2, 6-2 for her seventh victory in as many matches against the third-seeded Pole. The American lost just 14 points on her serve and broke Radwanska four times.
“Playing against Agnieszka, she plays like magic, she can move the ball left and right, she can do anything with her shots,” Williams said on the WTA Tour website. “So for me today it was just important to try to stay ahead of her, or one step ahead of her. I just tried to do that today and I’m happy with how things went.”
Williams will be seeking her 10th title of the season when she meets No. 8 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in tomorrow’s final. Jankovic advanced today with a 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, 6-1 victory over No. 9 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.