Rafael Nadal will end the year as world number one
Rafael Nadal has been guaranteed the world number one spot at the end of the year despite his defeat by Gilles Simon in the Madrid Masters semi-final.
The Spaniard went down 3-6 7-5 7-6 (8-6) to the Frenchman but is assured of top spot after Roger Federer lost the other semi-final to Andy Murray.
Simon matched Nadal shot for shot in a match lasting nearly three-and-a-half hours before stunning the Spanish fans.
He trailed 4-2 in the final set and 5-3 in the tie-break before fighting back.
The Frenchman clinched victory after a Nadal return was ruled long by the Hawk-Eye linecalling system.
The result keeps Simon in the running for a place at the end-of-season Masters Cup in Shanghai.
He has moved provisionally into ninth place and has two more tournaments - in Lyon next week and then at the Paris Masters to secure a spot.
Nadal had no complaints afterwards, saying: "I didn't play well on the backhand and he was playing with unbelievable confidence.
"Simon was putting all the balls inside the lines. It was disappointing not to win, it's tough to lose a match like this after a big fight. I tried my best, I'm happy with myself for that.
"I was not under any big pressure, not after the season I've had."
He was consoled by the knowledge that he will be the first Spaniard to end the year top of the world rankings since the current ATP system was introduced in 1973.
Nadal is the 15th different person to achieve this feat.
Pete Sampras topped the list for six years in a row from 1993 while Nadal takes over from Roger Federer, who enjoyed a four-year reign.