Rafael Nadal
For the fourth time in his career, Nadal will end the year as the world number one in tennis. Getty

Rafael Nadal will finish 2017 as the number one-ranked player in men's tennis after defeating Hyeon Chung at the Paris Masters.

Nadal, 31, becomes the oldest year-end number one since the establishment of the ATP Rankings and finishes the year as the sport's best ranked male player for the fourth time in his illustrious career after accomplishing the feat in 2008, 2010 and 2013.

Roger Federer's decision to withdraw from this week's Paris Masters left Nadal with a clear path to his latest triumph.

The 36-year-old won his eighth title of the year at the Swiss Indoors in Basel, beating Juan Martin del Potro in three sets in the final to move to 96 singles titles.

But his decision to skip Paris in order to ensure he is fully fit for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London effectively ended his pursuit to finish the year in top spot.

Nadal lived up to his end of the deal, seeing off 21-year-old South Korean Chung at the round of 32 stage in Paris, surviving an early break in the opening set to seal a 7-5 6-3 victory. That win gives him an insurmountable ATP points tally for 2017.

The Spaniard also hopes to achieve another record this week by winning the tournament in Paris which will take his tally of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles to 31 – which will see him move one ahead of Novak Djokovic on 30.

Nadal has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in 2017, sparked by reaching the final of the Australian Open in January before winning his first major title in three years at the French Open in May; his 10th success at Roland Garros. In June, he completed his return to the summit of men's tennis, replacing Andy Murray as the top of the ATP rankings.

In the final grand slam of the year at the US Open, he swept past Kevin Anderson to take his overall haul to 16 – just three behind Federer's all-time record of 19.

Nadal said after his win: "I am very happy for everything, it has been an amazing year. One year ago for sure I never dreamed of being world number one at the end of the season so I am very happy for everything."

While his place at the summit of men's tennis may be secured until 2018, Nadal has his eye on more success before the year is out, with a 31st ATP 1000 title in Paris now his focus.

"But the season is not over. I am here in Paris and want to carry on this amazing season. For me I think I played well since the beginning but of course, the most important moment of the year was the clay season and winning a 10th Roland Garros."