Rafael Nadal waves to the crowd following his win against Tomas Berdych during their men’s semi-final of the 2013 China Open at the National Tennis Centre on October 5, 2013 in Beijing, China. (Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal will regain the world number one ranking for the first time in over two years after he reached the final of the China Open.
The second seed was leading 4-2 in the first set of his semi-final against fourth seed Tomas Berdych, 28, when the Czech was forced to retire.
The Spaniard, 27, needed to make the final in Beijing to reclaim top spot ahead of Novak Djokovic, 26, in the new ATP rankings, which will be announced on Monday. The Serbian has been the world number one for 101 weeks.
Nadal will overtake Djokovic, even if he defeats French fifth seed Richard Gasquet in Saturday’s other semi-final and successfully defends the title on Sunday.
Nadal scripted a fine comeback against Fabio Fognini in his quarter-final encounter. The Italian, 26, led 4-1 in the second set after taking the first 6-2, only for the current world number two to mount one of his familiar comebacks.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion last held top spot in July 2011. Since returning to action in February after eight months on the sidelines with knee problems, Nadal has a 27-0 record on hard courts.
Nadal has won the French Open, the US Open and 10 ATP World Tour titles in 2013.