A philosophical Rafael Nadal said Sunday he is happy to be back from a seven-month injury layoff and playing top-level tennis, despite his defeat in the China Open final.
The world number two lost to a dominant Novak Djokovic in Beijing, but will unseat the Serb at the top of the men's rankings when they are announced by the ATP on Monday.
Nadal's return to the top for the first time since July 2011 marks an incredible comeback for the 13-times Grand Slam champion.
The 27-year-old spent the second half of 2012 out with a knee injury, and the first few weeks of 2013 on the sidelines with a stomach virus.
Despite losing in Beijing, Nadal was pleased to be back playing at the top.
"That is what motivates me and makes me happy, that I am able to be on the tour again and enjoying important matches like I played today with a great atmosphere out there, full crowd, big stadium. Something that I missed a lot for seven months," he told reporters after his 6-3, 6-4 defeat.
"I was able for the last seven or eight months to play very often in these circumstances, so that's very special every time I have that chance. I'm enjoying that situation."
In Beijing, the Spaniard appeared in his 13th final of 14 tournaments this season. He has won ten of them.
The loss was his first since he crashed out at Wimbledon in the first round in June, and represents his only hardcourt defeat this season.