What Rafael Nadal needs at Indian Wells to be world number 1?
- What the Spaniard needs to do at Indian Wells to reclaim the world no. 1 ranking?
Rafael Nadal triumphed for the first time at Acapulco in seven years to lift his third title at the tournament following a straight-set win over American Taylor Fritz in the final.
In the process, the Spaniard lifted his first title of the season, his 22nd on hardcourts, and 85th of his illustrious career. The triumph, Nadal's most emphatic at a hardcourt tournament in terms of games lost, made the 19-time Grand Slam champion join compatriot David Ferrer as the only players to win the Acapulco Open on both clay and hardcourt.
Having won his first Acapulco title in 2005 as an 18-year-old, Nadal's latest win at the tournament marks his longest period between title triumphs at the same tournament.
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With the win, Nadal adds 500 points to his kitty. But with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic who also triumphed at another ATP 500 tournament (Dubai) earlier in the day, Nadal now trails the Serb by 370 points in the race for the no. 1 ranking. The Spaniard was defending 45 points at Acapulco this year, following his second-round exit to eventual winner Nick Kyrgios in 2019 while Djokovic was defending no points this week.
Nevertheless, it keeps alive Nadal's chances of usurping the no. 1 position from Djokovic which the latter reclaimed following his record-extending 8th title triumph at the Australian Open where the Spaniard made a quarter-final exit after making the final last year.
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At the first Masters 1000 tournament of the season at Indian Wells, this is what Nadal needs to return to the numero uno position in the ATP world rankings.
The Spaniard is defending 360 points at Indian Wells, following a run to the semi-finals (walkover against Roger Federer) last season while Djokovic is defending 45 points after losing to Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets in the third round. This gives Djokovic a head start of 685 points (370 + 360 - 45) going into 2020 Indian Wells which means Nadal will have to earn as many more points than Djokovic at the tournament.
For a start, Nadal will need to go all the way at the tournament (1000 points) and hope that Djokovic does not reach the semi-finals. If the Serb reaches the last-four (360 points), Nadal will only be able to earn a maximum of 640 more points than Djokovic which won't be enough to usurp the recently crowned Australian Open champion from the top spot in the rankings.
After 2019 Wimbledon, Nadal has gone 38-4 on hardcourts, raking up titles at the Coupe Rogers (2019), US Open (2019), and Acapulco (2020). However, at Indian Wells, the Spaniard will have to win his first title at the tournament in 7 years to stand a chance of getting back to no. 1.