Following Roger Federer’s second early exit in as many weeks, the surging Rafael Nadal stands just one win from finally claiming the coveted World No. 1 ranking. If Nadal beats Nicolas Lapentti tonight at the Western Southern Financial Masters in Cincinnati, the Spaniard will be assured of the No. 1 ranking and the US Open top seeding on August 18.
If Nadal wins the Cincinnati title he will overtake Federer for No. 1 next Monday, August 4. If he finishes runner-up he will be crowned No. 1 on August 11.
In becoming No. 1, Nadal would become the 24th player since the ATP rankings began in 1973 to accomplish the feat and join countrymen Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya as Spaniards to ascend to the top position.
The only way Nadal cannot become No. 1 before the US Open is if he losses today, then loses before the third round at the Beijing Olympics while Federer wins the gold medal.
Nadal has been ranked No. 2 a record 158 straight weeks since first reaching that mark on July 25, 2005.
Federer, who was a shock 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 loser yesterday afternoon to giant Ivo Karlovic, has now lost three of his last four matches and has failed to reach the finals in any of his six hardcourt tournaments this year.
Including the week of July 28, Federer has held the No. 1 spot for a record 235 weeks since February 2, 2004. Federer has reigned as the top seed at the last 18 Grand Slam tournaments. He was the No. 2 seed when he won the 2004 Australian Open.
In the quarterfinals today, at 7pm Nadal will face Nicolas Lapentti, who beat the Spaniard in their only earlier meeting in 2003. Karlovic plays Philip Kohlschreiber, Andy Murray meets former No. 1 Moya and current No. 3 Novak Djokovic takes on talented teen Ernests Gulbis.
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