Since climbing to the number one spot in February 2004, Roger Federer has had a bull’s-eye on his back for which Rafael Nadal has been aiming. Tonight, Nadal, who himself had owned the number two ranking since July 2005, beat Nicolas Lapentti 7-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinals at the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati to supplant Federer at number one.
Federer’s stranglehold on the top spot, which he had maintained for unprecedented 235 consecutive weeks, was placed in jeopardy with his defeat yesterday to Ivo Karlovic in Cincy. Nadal has been on a sizzling streak winning his last five tournaments. On the other hand, since losing to Rafa at Wimbledon, Roger’s stock has been bearish. After being dismissed in the second round in Toronto last week, Federer was eliminated in the third round this week. Nadal will claim number one outright should he win the title at this event. Otherwise, Rafa may need to wait until August 18th for the computer recalculation to come out. Considering the substantial lead in the standings that Federer had at the start of the year, this is indeed an exceptional achievement on Nadal’s part. So the doldrums persist for Federer; how he will respond to the new world order will be forthcoming at the Olympics and U.S.Open.