Rafael Nadal will end the 2017 season as the world No 1 after beating South Korea’s Chung Hyeon in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.
Roger Federer paved the way for his long-time rival to end 2017 top of the rankings after pulling out of the Paris Masters in order to rest ahead of the ATP Finals.
Nadal’s win against 54th-ranked Chung now means Federer will be unable to catch the Spaniard, regardless of how the pair fare in London later this month.
This is the fourth time the 31-year-old has ended the season as world No 1, having previously achieved the feat in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
It marks the conclusion of what has been a remarkable season of a renaissance for Nadal, who overcame wrist problems from last year to win the French Open and US Open – his 15th and 16th grand slam titles.
Speaking after victory on Wednesday, the Spaniard said: “I’m very, very happy for everything. It has been an amazing year. One year ago for sure I never dreamed about being world number one at end of the season so it’s something that means a lot.”
Nadal avoided any slip-ups against Chung, winning 7-5 6-3, although the 21-year-old did cause Nadal problems.
Having sat out last week’s event in Basel to rest his knees after a successful hard-court season, he put in a patchy performance.
After conceding an early break, Nadal looked to have turned things around when he led 5-2 in the opening set only for Chung to level up.
The young Korean had a break point for 6-5 but Nadal’s serve helped him get out of trouble and he pulled away from a tiring Chung at the end to claim victory after an hour and 48 minutes.
Nadal has enjoyed repeated success in Paris, winning the French Open 10 times at Roland Garros, but he has never won the title at Bercy.
Next, he will face Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, who ended a 10-match losing streak in round one and backed that up with a 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/1) 6-2 victory over 15th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas.