LONDON (Reuters) – Rafael Nadal of Spain has withdrawn from next week's ATP Tour Final in London because of injury, so Novak Djokovic will end the year as the world number one, after returning to the top of the ranking on Monday.
French Open champion Nadal announced on Monday that an abdominal muscle problem that prevented him from playing at the Paris Masters last week and ankle surgery forced him to leave the end of the season.
"I had a stomach problem in Paris last week and had an ankle joint problem that had to be removed in the operating room," the Grand Slam winner wrote 17 times on Twitter. "In this way, I hope to be in full condition for next season."
And the surgeon yesterday confirmed that "the intervention was normal" and the operation was a success.
"Rafa Nadal has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle," said Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro.
American John Isner will occupy a 32-year-old place in London when the Final takes place on Sunday.
Japan's Kei Nishikori has also been designed to replace Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who was withdrawn following a knee injury.
Djokovic will be the first player since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973 to end this year on top of the tennis top after being out of the top 20 during the same season.
"Reflecting on what I have gone through in the past year, that was a phenomenal achievement," said the 14-time Grand Slam champion.
"And of course, I'm very, very happy and proud of it. I always believe in myself, but it's very impossible at that time to consider my rank, and the way I play and feel on the field."
After missing the second half of last season because of a troublesome elbow, Djokovic returned earlier this year just because the injury returned to light at the Australian Open in January.
He chose to operate and was banished from the French Open as the 20th seed at the quarter-final stage before starting a good run.
He beat Nadal in the Wimbledon semi-final before ending a two-year Grand Slam drought by beating Kevin Anderson in the final.
A few weeks later, he defeated del Potro to win the US Open and won the Shanghai Masters title last month without losing a set.
"What Novak achieved this season will come down as one of the great sports comebacks. This is a phenomenal return to form that will be hard to imagine just six months ago," ATP chief executive and president Chris Kermode said.