At the beginning of 2005, an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal was ranked just outside the top-50, halted by injuries in the previous season and determined to show his full potential in the upcoming months. After reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, a teenager conquered Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on his beloved clay in February, skipping Indian Wells and gathering energy for Miami where he almost went all the way, losing a tight final to Roger Federer despite being two points away from victory.
Entering the primary clay season from the top-20, Rafa conquered Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros to become one of the best players in the world and establish himself as Roger Federer’s most dangerous opponent in the years to come.
As we already said, Nadal cracked the top-20 in April 2005 and never left that group again, improving his game on a regular basis and forging his way towards tennis legends in the last 15 years or so. A lot has changed in men’s tennis since April 2005 but one figure has continuously been there for all these years, with Rafa celebrating the 750th consecutive week in the top-20, joining Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors as only the third player who achieved that since 1973!
With numerous setbacks due to injuries, Nadal had some tough periods in a career that he managed to overcome with an iron will and desire to always compete at his best, claiming Grand Slam and Masters 1000 titles in almost every of the last 15 years to keep himself inside the top-10 ever since that spring of 2005!
Of course, his top-20m status was never in danger and Nadal is spending the 750th consecutive week there, claiming the record after the 35th Masters 1000 crown that came on Sunday in Montreal. At the age of 33, Rafa is still among the best players in the world, needing two more years in the top-20 to pass Jimmy Connors and stay in touch with Roger Federer who is alone at the top with mind-blowing 956 straight weeks in the top-20, securing the spot in April 2001 and never drifting away!
Ivan Lendl is the closest player to Nadal with 733 weeks, followed by Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Novak Djokovic who are the remaining players with more than 600 weeks without leaving the top-20.