Part of complete coverage on
ATP World Tour Finals: Rafael Nadal to end remarkable 2013 as No. 1
November 6, 2013 -- Updated 2147 GMT (0547 HKT)
Despite his six-month absence because of a knee injury, Rafael Nadal was at the forefront of some supporters' minds when January's Australian Open took place without him. The Spaniard's withdrawal meant he dropped out of the top four for the first time since 2005.
Far from forgotten
The comeback begins
Back on top of the world
- Rafael Nadal will be the year-end world No. 1 for the third time in his career
- Spaniard beats Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka at ATP World Tour Finals in London
- Nadal also books place in semifinals of biggest competition he has yet to win
(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal sealed a remarkable comeback in 2013 by beating Stanislas Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday to ensure he will finish the year as world No. 1.
The Spaniard also qualified for the semifinals of the only major tennis tournament he has never won, with the 27-year-old boasting a career grand slam in addition to an Olympic gold medal.
Since returning to the sport in February after seven months out with a knee injury, the 13-time grand slam champion has won 10 titles in a year which he has described as one of his best.
Beating Wawrinka in London confirmed that he finishes on top of the world for the third time in his career, with Novak Djokovic now forced to settle for second place. The Serbian had held the honor the past two years, while Nadal is the first player to win it back twice.
Rafael Nadal's triumphant comeback
Nadal clinches 8th French Open
Read: Serb stars slam anti-doping procedures
"A lot of emotions today," Nadal said following his 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6) over the Swiss eighth seed. "It's the perfect scenario to be finally the year-end No. 1 in this fantastic stadium, in front of this unbelievable crowd, so many thanks for making me feel like this.
"This has been an unbelievable comeback year."
It certainly has.
When he returned to action in Chile in February, Nadal moved so gingerly at times that he felt it better to leave some points as he attempted to protect his troublesome knee.
A first title since the 2012 French Open followed later that month in Brazil, and these were soon followed by further triumphs in Mexico and Indian Wells.
Comprehensive confirmation of the fact that "the King of Clay" had fully recovered his abilities came at the French Open when he beat Djokovic in a compelling semifinal before defeating compatriot David Ferrer to claim a record eighth title at Roland Garros.
Nadal clinches 8th French Open
Secret to beating tennis' big four
Humiliation followed at Wimbledon as the former champion was beaten by Belgium's 135th-ranked Steve Darcis, the first time Nadal had exited a grand slam in the first round.
Yet he recovered to clinch the U.S. Open in September, beating Djokovic in the final, and before a packed crowd at London's O2 Arena on Wednesday, Nadal said his extraordinary return would have been impossible without his family.
"The team is everything for me," he explained.
"Without them, I would never have the chance to be back where I am today -- being the No. 1 at the end of the season when there are such unbelievable competitors in front of me.
"Without my family team behind me, it is impossible to think like this, especially after what happened last year."
Swiss finals debutant Wawrinka now has a win and loss ahead of his final round-robin match against Ferrer, while Nadal will close against Tomas Berdych.
Third-ranked Ferrer lost out to Czech Berdych in Wednesday's late game 6-4 6-4.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1208 GMT (2008 HKT)
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0636 GMT (1436 HKT)
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
September 14, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.