With the 2013 tennis season coming to a close, Rafael Nadal is the No. 1 player in the world, owning a 550-point edge over Novak Djokovic and an over 5,000-point lead over No. 3 David Ferrer, ahead of the Paris Masters which began today and runs through Nov. 3.
To no one’s surprise, Nadal is favored to win the tournament, even though the King of Clay will be operating on hard court and not his more-desired red clay. It has been another strong year for Nadal, who captured the French Open and U.S. Open titles in 2013, and the Spaniard would no doubt like to end the season on a high note as he tries to fend off the challenge from Djokovic for the top spot.
Nadal skipped the Swiss Indoors in Basel last week to regroup his fitness and body, according to his Facebook page. With the added time off, he should have a slight edge over Djokovic.
But the battle with the Serbian star for the final top ranking was not on Nadal’s mind this week. Instead, the 27-year-old decided to take time to appreciate a legend, who has struggled to regain his form in 2013.
Roger Federer, who owns a record 17 grand slam titles, is currently ranked sixth, and with a razor-thin lead on No. 7 Tomas Berdych. Nadal still believes that the 32-year-old is an elite tennis player, who has something left, despite Federer failing to win a grand slam since 2012 at Wimbledon.
"I don't have any doubt that he will be playing better than what he did this year," said Nadal, at a news conference.
"No doubt about that. His talent allows him to keep being one of the favorites, to keep winning the best tournaments of the year.
"So talking about if he's able to be back or try to be back in the No. 1 (spot), I think it's not his goal, because at the end he already has been there. He has been in the top positions of the ranking for a long time."
In 31 head-to-head matches, Nadal leads Federer, 21-10. However, Nadal has won just seven of their 13 matches on hard court. The last time they faced each other was in August at the 2013 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. In the quarterfinals, Federer won the first set but dropped the next two to the eventual champion.
Nadal and Federer can meet in the final at Paris.
"His goal probably will be finish the year well and be ready to start well in Australia next year. If that happens, he will be one of the candidates to win the first grand slam of the season. That's something that really motivates him."
"But I am sure that he's not finished. He will work hard in the off-season to be ready for 2014. I am sure he will be back playing great tennis again," said Nadal.
IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.