Djokovic will slide down to second

Rafael Nadal will return to the ATP number one ranking for the first time in two years on Monday after winning his semi-final match on Saturday at the China Open.

Serb Novak Djokovic, who held the top honour for 101 weeks, will slide down to second.

“It would be great if I could finish the season on number one,” said Nadal. “But for sure I need to win more matches if I want to be there.” Nadal advanced 4-2 into the title match in the capital as opponent Tomas Berdych retired with back pains. The Czech, who played the Bangkok final last weekend against Milos Raonic, took an injury time out for treatment before deciding that he could not continue.

The win will send the 27-year-old Nadal to he top of the rankings on Monday.

“This is one of the best years of my career. It’s special to be back to the top position after more than half year without playing.” Nadal has made a miraculous comeback this season after missing seven months with knee problems. He returned to action in February and has since won 10 titles, including Grand Slam honours at the French and US Opens.

Nadal has not lost on a hardcourt in 2013 and now stands 27-0 on the cement, which is believed to have been part of the cause for his longstanding knee problems. He has won his last 21 ATP matches.

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