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Nadal reaches final to become world No. 1

ESPN staff
October 5, 2013 « US one-up after lengthy storm delays | Chartbeat test »
Nadal waves apologetically to the crowd after reaching the China Open final © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal will take over from Novak Djokovic as world No. 1 on Monday after reaching the final of the China Open.

The news was somewhat anticlimactic after Nadal was handed a semi-final victory when his opponent, fourth seed Tomas Berdych, retired with a back injury.

The Spaniard last topped the rankings in July 2011, before a series of injuries saw him fall down to fourth. Nadal returned to action after seven months out in February and is 64-3 this season and has won 10 titles, including the French and US Opens.

He has not lost a match since being stunned by world No. 135 Steve Darcis in the first round at Wimbledon.

"During the season I felt very excited every time I went on court," Nadal said. "[I was] very excited to compete again, and compete well, and be competitive against everybody.

"I worked hard every day with the right attitude and, because of that, I am in this situation where I am No. 1 today - but it's not [assured] for the end of the season.

"I [won't] go to sleep tonight feeling that I am the best player of the world. That's something that I never thought, and I don't think now today. I played a very complete season, and that's why I am the best in the rankings today."

Nadal will face Djokovic in the final after the Serb beat French fifth-seed Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2 in the other semi.

Nadal added: "I need to play my best; playing aggressive, playing without mistakes, being solid with my serve. If these kind of things are not happening, I will not have chances.

"I know what I have to do, but it's very difficult to do it, because the level of the opponent is unbelievable."

Nadal will remain second seed for next week's Shanghai Masters, and admits he will not be celebrating his ascension to No. 1 - for now, anyway.

"Celebrations are for the end of the season, not before," he added "It is not my time for celebrations, it's time to keep being focused. The season is not over, my work is not over."

"When you achieve something important, you don't have time to celebrate because in a few days you will be competing and playing against a player that is trying to beat you."

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