Spaniard is the first singles player to qualify

Rafael Nadal on Thursday became the first player to qualify for the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals, which will be played from 13-20 November in Turin. The Spaniard has now earned his spot at the season finale 17 times, the second-most qualifications in event history. The lefty guaranteed his place at the Pala Alpitour after he defeated Fabio Fognini in the second round of the US Open.

"Good news of course. One more year at the age of 36. Finish the year probably, if nothing goes wrong, in the Top 5. Yeah, it's better than what we expected when we started the year and we didn't know much about how the things [were] going to go," Nadal said. "[I am] happy. But things are [going to] keep going here. Happy to stay alive after tonight. Now is the moment to play better. I hope to be ready to make that happen."

Nadal, the leader in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin, is in pole position to finish year-end No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the sixth time (2008, ’10, ’13, ‘17, '19), which would tie him for the second-most year-end No. 1 finishes in history (since 1973) with Pete Sampras. The 36-year-old will try to lift the Nitto ATP Finals trophy for the first time when he makes his debut in Turin.

The Spaniard has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2022, winning the season’s first two Grand Slam championships at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same year for the first time. Nadal has also triumphed at an ATP 250 in Melbourne and an ATP 500 at Acapulco en route to a 37-4 record on the season.

Nadal has not yet lost at a major in 2022, reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon, where he was forced to withdraw due to an abdominal injury. The Spaniard also reached the final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where he lost to Taylor Fritz in the championship match.

The Manacor-native earned a record 16 consecutive qualifications for the Nitto ATP Finals from 2005-20. Nadal has claimed 20 wins at the year-end championships, good for eighth-most in the tournament’s history.