World no. 1 Rafael Nadal is still in contention for the place in the semi-final at the ATP Finals, prevailing against Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 52 minutes! The Spaniard has secured the year-end no. 1 spot following Novak Djokovic's loss to Roger Federer but he is still not safe for the semis, having to cheer for Daniil Medvedev against Alexander Zverev tonight in the last round-robin match of the tournament to set the semi-final clash against Roger.
Rafa never faced a break point but still had to work hard to topple the Greek, converting two out of nine chances on the return to cross the finish line first and add 200 points to his tally. They both had more winners than unforced errors in what was a high-quality encounter from start to finish, with Nadal who had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges that propelled him towards the second victory in London this week after that miraculous comeback against Medvedev.
Nothing could separate the rivals in the opening set, with 12 good holds on both sides that led them into a tie break where the Greek had the upper hand that gave him the advantage. Rafa held with a service winner in the opening game, placing a volley winner in game three to stay in front before Stefanos delivered a hold at love to level the score at 2-2 and make a convincing start as well.
The Greek stayed calm at 40-40 in the eighth game and brought it home with two rock-solid attacks, staying on the level terms with the Spaniard in the remaining four games to reach a tie break. There, Rafa made some costly errors to find himself 5-4 down before Stefanos closed the set with an ace at 6-4 in just under an hour.
With no room for mistakes, the Spaniard raised the level even more in set number two, firing 11 winners and six unforced errors and mounting the pressure on Tsitsipas who couldn't endure it in the end. Rafa wasted two break chances in the fifth game and another one two games later after a service winner from the youngster who stayed on the positive side of the scoreboard.
That all changed at 4-4 when Srefanos sprayed a forehand error, sending Nadal in front before world no. 1 closed the set with a service winner a few minutes later for a 6-4 and a massive boost ahead of the decider. A volley winner earned two break chances for Rafa in the fifth game of the third set, denied by two winners from Tsitsipas who finally got broken at 5-5 after some incredible shots from Nadal who sealed the deal in the next game to stay in contention for the place in the semi-final against Roger Federer.