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Rafael Nadal’s rise back to world number one has been confirmed after Tomas Berdych was forced to retire hurt during their semi-final at the China Open.
The clash in Beijing was expected to be a classic but turned out be somewhat of an anti-climax as the Czech suffered a back injury in the first set and was forced to withdraw.
Nadal went into the match knowing victory would take him back to the top of the rankings and he will have the perfect chance to confirm his status as the best player in the world, when he faces either current number one Novak Djokovic or Richard Gasquet in Sunday’s final.
It has been an impressive year for the Spaniard, as after missing the second half of 2012 due to a knee injury, he has been largely excellent.
Victories at both Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows took him to 13 Grand Slam career titles, while he is still to suffer defeat on hardcourts in 2013.
Nadal admits he has been thrilled by how well his comeback has gone but is not taking anything for granted and wants to continue his form in order to maintain his new position until the end of the season.
“This is a great year, one of the best years of my career without any doubt,’ he said. ‘It sure is special be back to the top position of the rankings after more than a half year without playing tennis.
“I worked hard every day with the right attitude I think, and because of that, I am today in this situation. I am No. 1 today, but it’s not assured for the end of the season.”