Tennis

Nadal to end season as No. 1 for the fourth time

Spaniard secures year-end top ranking for the fourth time after defeating world No. 55

Rafael Nadal will be crowned as the year-end world No. 1 after he defeated 21-year-old South Korean Chung Hyeon 7-5, 6-3 during last night's second round of the Paris Masters.

Nadal's closest rival Roger Federer could have caught up with him at the top of the rankings, but was unable to do so after pulling out of the Paris Masters due to a back problem.

Federer's withdrawal on Sunday left Nadal needing only a win to seal his place at the top of the year-end rankings.

This is the fourth time that the 31-year-old Spaniard will finish the year as the No. 1. He had previously done so in 2008, 2010 and 2013.

"It's something that means a lot to me. I'm happy for everthing," said a beaming Nadal, who will meet Pablo Cuevas in the next round.

Earlier yesterday, Germany's Alexander Zverev was knocked out in the second round when he slumped to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 loss to Dutch journeyman Robin Haase.

The fourth seed, who has already booked his ticket for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, lost his way in the match after Haase levelled at one-set all.

Zverev, 20, converted his only break-point in the first set to take the lead while Haase wasted six break chances.

It's something that means a lot to me. I'm happy for everything. Rafael Nadal, on finishing the year as the world No. 1

But Haase played a bit tighter in the second set and it was enough to unsettle Zverev, who never threatened again.

Joining Haase in the third round is Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem, who beat German lucky loser Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4.

The 24-year-old Thiem, who has reached the French Open semi-finals in the last two years, was made to work hard before setting up a third-round tie with Fernando Verdasco, who had defeated South Africa's Kevin Anderson 5-7, 6-4, 7-5.

Thiem had also qualified for the eight-man ATP Finals from Nov 12-19, along with Nadal, Federer, Zverev, Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov.

IN THE BALANCE

Meanwhile, US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta slumped to a 6-4, 6-1 defeat by home wildcard Nicolas Mahut to leave his ATP Finals hopes in the balance.

The Spaniard is holding the eighth and last spot for the year-ending event, but his loss gives added hope to the likes of Juan Martin del Potro.

Argentinian del Potro, who meets Joao Sousa this morning, needs to reach his fifth successive semi-final to overhaul Carreno Busta.

Sam Querrey's ATP Finals bid is over, though, after the big-serving American lost 6-4, 6-4 to Serbian qualifier Filip Krajinovic, who will meet Mahut in the next round. - WIRE SERVICES

Rafael Nadalparis