By Abigail Hinto
(October 4, 2013) BEIJING – It was not the way Rafael Nadal would have wanted to win as Tomas Berdych retired only 6 games into the match in the first semifinal of the China Open. Berdych felt something go wrong in his back as he hit a backhand to return serve and move for the next shot at 3-2 (30-30). He called for the trainer after Nadal held for that game, came back and could only play 6 more points before retiring.
And so, after three years, Rafael Nadal is now back to World No. 1 and could become the first player in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings (since 1973) to finish No. 1 three years after his last No. 1 year-end ranking.
It’s a “present” according to Nadal for an amazing season after coming back from a 7-month injury lay-off missing the US Open in 2012 and the Australian Open this year. Since his return, he’s now made 13 finals, winning 10 titles including Roland Garros and the US Open, he could add No. 11 to the list if he wins the China Open. Still unbeaten on hardcourt, Nadal has two 20-match winning streaks this year, one at 22 during the clay season and the current one at 20 and counting. But in the end, for Nadal “the personal satisfaction is not because I am No. 1 today; it’s because all the work that I had to be where I am today.”
But no time yet for celebrations. For now, there is still the rest of the season to think about. As Nadal said, “not everything (is) done. Remain a match tomorrow. Remain Shanghai. I am No. 1 today, but it’s not done for the end of the season. It’s something that will be a great finish of the season if I am able to finish the season on the No. 1 spot.” Either way, whatever happens from here on out, it will be one of Rafael Nadal’s best years of his career.
Abigail Hinto is covering the 2013 China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.
September 28-October 6, 2013
Results – Saturday, October 5, 2013
WTA Singles – Semifinals
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 62
(8) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (9) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 67(7) 61 61
WTA Doubles – Final
(8) Black/Mirza (ZIM/IND) d. Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) 62 62
ATP Singles – Semifinals
 N Djokovic (SRB) d  R Gasquet (FRA) 64 62
 R Nadal (ESP) d  T Berdych (CZE) 42 ret. (back)
ATP Doubles – Semifinals
F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) d  D Nestor (CAN) / L Paes (IND) 36 75 10-8
SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2013
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 1:00 pm
F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) vs M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 pm
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 pm
 S Williams (USA) vs  J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA