"Never thought I would be ahead of Rafael Nadal in rankings, I took a photo and sent it to my family" - World No. 663 Jorge Martinez Martinez
Rafael Nadal recently announced that he will make his comeback to professional tennis in 2024. The Spaniard, however, has fallen outside the top 600 of the ATP rankings due to his absence from the tour for much of the year.
Nadal's last appearance came at the Australian Open in January, which ended on a disappointing note. The Spaniard injured his hip during his second-round loss against Mackenzie McDonald.
He was on the sidelines for an extended period after his trip Down Under, choosing to undergo arthroscopic surgery to heal his injury.
Rafael Nadal couldn't defend the points he earned in 2022, causing his ranking to slip to 664th in the world on November 13. His compatriot Jorge Martinez, who largely plies his trade on the ITF circuit, unwittingly benefitted from Nadal's ranking drop.
Martinez recently spoke to Marca about a variety of topics, one of which included his current ATP ranking of 663. Ranked one place higher than Rafael Nadal, the 26-year-old Spaniard said he sent a screenshot of the computer rankings from early November to his family.
He also joked that he was going to ask the 37-year-old whether he would play doubles with him some day.
"It's funny because I never thought I would be ahead of Rafa," he said. "I took a photo of the leaderboard and sent it to my family. I joked that now was the time to ask him to play doubles. I knew it was going to happen to him because I read that Nadal fell beyond 600."
Rafael Nadal to play Brisbane International for the second time in his career
Rafael Nadal will be keen to get his 2024 ATP tour season off the blocks at the Brisbane International, a tune-up event for the Australian Open. The Spaniard has participated in the 250-level tournament only once before in his career.
The-then 30-year-old entered the 2017 edition of Brisbane International as the fifth seed. He won his first two matches with relative ease before falling to top-seeded Milos Raonic despite having led by a set.
But Nadal got enough match practice at the ATP 250 tournament, considering he hadn't played much in 2016 due to a wrist injury and appendicitis. He reached the Melbourne final a few weeks later, losing to archrival Roger Federer in five sets.
The former World No. 1 also played at the Melbourne Summer Set 1 in 2022, after having been out of action for more than six months due to a chronic foot injury. He reigned supreme at not only the 250-level event but also at the 2022 Australian Open, completing the elusive 'Double Career Grand Slam'.