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Rafael Nadal back on top of world rankings by reaching China Open final


Eight months after many doubted whether he would ever play at the highest level again, Rafael Nadal will complete a remarkable recovery from injury when he returns to the top of the world rankings tomorrow.

The 27-year-old Spaniard guaranteed that he would replace Novak Djokovic as world No 1 when he reached today's final of the China Open in Beijing after his opponent, Tomas Berdych, retired with a back injury when trailing 4-2 in the first set of their semi-final.

Nadal, who meets Djokovic in the final after the Serb beat Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-2, returned to competition only in February after seven months off the court following a recurrence of the knee problems that have dogged his career. In the 14 tournaments he has played this year, Nadal has reached 13 finals – Wimbledon, where he lost in the first round, was the exception – and won 10 titles. He is unbeaten in 27 matches in 2013 on hard courts, which have usually been his most unproductive surface, and has not lost in the four events he has played since Wimbledon.

"The satisfaction is not because I am No 1, it's because of all the work to be where I am," Nadal said. "I don't feel a better player now and I won't go to bed feeling that I am the best player in the world. That's something I've never thought."

Britain's Jamie Murray and his Australian doubles partner, John Peers, extended their unbeaten run on the Asia swing to seven matches when they beat Austria's Jürgen Melzer and Julian Knowle 6-3 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Japan Open in Tokyo.

Murray and Peers, who were due to meet Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in today's final, won their third title of the year in Bangkok last week. Juan Martin del Potro was facing Milos Raonic in the singles final.