Beijing, China (SportsNetwork.com) - The comeback is complete for Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard, who a year ago was out of action due to a left knee injury, is guaranteed to displace Novak Djokovic atop the men's world rankings on Monday after advancing to the final at the $2.315 million China Open.
Nadal reached his 13th final in 14 events since returning in February after fourth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych retired during Saturday's first semifinal.
The Mallorcan was leading 4-2 in the opening set when Berdych, the 2011 China Open champion and last week's runner-up in Bangkok, called it quits due to a back injury.
Nadal will return to the top ranking for the first time since the week of June 27, 2011. Djokovic has been No. 1 for 101 weeks.
The 27-year-old Nadal improved to 65-3 this season, including 26-0 on hard courts this season, and is currently riding a 21-match winning streak since his stunning first-round dismissal at Wimbledon. Nadal will attempt to tie a personal best by capturing his 11th title of 2013. The 13-time Grand Slam champion also won 11 titles eight years ago, including a triumph at this event.
Djokovic is being bumped from his perch, but he will seek to close out his reign with a victory over Nadal in Sunday's final. The defending and three- time Beijing champ beat fifth-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet, 6-4, 6-2, later Saturday to run his record here to 18-0.
The Serbian has faced Nadal four times this year. Djokovic handed Nadal one of his rare losses in the Monte Carlo title match, but he has dropped the last three meetings, the most recent coming in the final at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal is 22-15 lifetime against Djokovic.