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Rafa: Equaling Novak and Roger Special

Rafael Nadal made his mark as the oldest year-end world No. 1 in ATP history.

The 33-year-old Spaniard earned the year-end top spot for the fifth time equaling Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Jimmy Connors, who all finished five years at the top.

More: Nadal Tops Tsitsipas, Keeps Hope Alive

Pete Sampras owns the ATP mark securing the season-ending top spot six times.

Nadal said the fact he's equaled his top rivals makes this mark even more special—given the years he suffered season-ending injuries.

"For me, of course it's important to share five years each other with Novak and with Roger," Nadal told the media in London. "I cannot complain, but at some point I feel that there is a couple of years out there that I have been in a position that I had big chances to be the year No. 1, and I got injured, a long injury.

"So at some point for me is something that give me very personal satisfaction, because have the chance to equal both of them after missing couple of years for injuries means a lot, no? Because I remember 2012, for example, I have been playing great, and I have been in a position that I think I was playing great since Roland Garros. After winning Roland Garros, I had to stop for eight months for my knee.

"Then in 2009 something similar happened. So couple of years that I have been there and for physical issues I was not able to fight for it, no? So have this trophy with me means a lot, and of course is a great achievement."

The Big 3 have combined to rack up the season-ending top spot for 15 of the last 16 years with only former No. 1 Andy Murray breaking Big 3 strangle hold on the top.

Nineteen-time Grand Slam champion Nadal said securing the year-end top spot was not his goal.

Nadal insists his career decisions are now dictated by one question: What will help him play longest?

"I will not follow the No. 1. I'm going to do my normal calendar, because you have to make decisions to try to play as long as possible or to try to fight for No. 1," Nadal said. "My decision or our decision is to try to do the things to play as long as possible, so that's why I tried to do the conservative calendar in terms of save the body and everything.

"But the thing is when I have been playing, I have been playing very well. I achieved almost every single time the last rounds of every tournament. So that's why I'm put in a position that I am where I am today, having this trophy with me. Of course after winning the US Open, I put myself in a position that can be a chance to be there, but of course having the rivals that I have in front, anything is possible."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve