By Erik Gudris
Though he may have made the smallest gain in terms of his ranking, Rafael Nadal's ascension to No. 1 earned him a nomination for ATP Comeback Player of the Year.
The end of season award honors those who have overcome significant injuries to not only come back to action, but return as one of the best players in world.
This year's nominees are: Nadal, Somdev Devvarman, Tommy Robredo and Dmitry Tursunov.
Devvarman, after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2012, fell out of the top 600 in rankings. But 2013 saw the former college standout rise nearly 550 points to reach his current spot at No. 90.
Nadal's return to the sport after spending seven months out of action due to a knee injury is well known. The Spanish superstar has dominated the tour since his return, including winning his eighth French Open title and his second US Open. With 10 titles in all this season, Nadal ascended back to the No. 1 ranking in Shanghai a few weeks ago.
"It is special be back to the top position of the rankings after more than a half year without playing tennis,” Nadal said about his performance this year.
After successful leg surgery earlier this year, Robredo got right back to his winning ways. That included claiming two tour titles in Casablanca and Umag. His greatest win, though, may have been his surprise fourth-round upset of Roger Federer at the US Open. Robredo is now back into the top 20 again.
Russia's Tursunov is no stranger to this award. A former nominee in 2003 and 2011, Tursunov recovered from wrist surgery in 2012 that forced him out of the top 100.
A strong push from Tursunov midway through 2013 now sees the Russian back inside the top 40 near the end of the year.
The tour's players will vote on the winner with the announcement made at the upcoming ATP World Tour Finals in London.