Today, Rafael Nadal won his sixth ATP title of the year in dominating fashion. The victory came at the China Open in Beijing over Nick Kyrgios. Nadal has looked virtually unstoppable these last few weeks, and with Shanghai coming up, he appears to be the favorite going in.
Let’s start with what he did this week. His tournament started out with a very difficult first round against Lucas Pouille. He managed to escape that match, fending off two match points in a three-set victory. He then went up against a next-gen star, Karen Khachanov, and beat him handily 6-3, 6-3. Next came John Isner, a rematch from the Laver Cup, and this time Nadal won in straight sets. Yesterday one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament took place with Rafa facing off against Grigor Dimitrov. It was a close match, but in the end, Rafa was just too much and he took it in three sets, looking amazing throughout. Then came today. Rafa absolutely destroyed Nick Kyrgios in the final, winning 6-2, 6-1.
Ironically, the last person to beat Nadal in an official tournament was Kyrgios, and that was two months ago. A lot has changed since then. Rafa took hold of the number one ranking and ran with it, now he leads Roger Federer in points by about 2500. At this point, a comeback in the rankings for Federer is almost unfathomable, so it would seem as though Rafa has year-end number one locked up.
That being said, there are still some big tournaments yet to be played. Both Federer and Rafa will be at Shanghai this week, so we could potentially see them play there. If Federer does win that title, that makes Basel very interesting, as both of them will be there as well. Then comes Paris, although it doesn’t seem like Federer will be playing there this year. After that, we have the real show, the World Tour Finals, where they will almost certainly be facing off. At this point though, it seems like Rafa is unstoppable. But we’ll see, after all, they’ve really just been alternating dominant performances this year.