The 22-time Major champion Rafael Nadal trains at home in Mallorca ahead of the ATP Finals. Nadal experienced an early Paris Masters loss, hoping for a better run in Turin while chasing one of the rare notable titles he is missing.
Rafa is still in the year-end no. 1 contention, standing 1000 points behind Carlos Alcaraz and needing a deep run in Turin to pass the young compatriot. Nadal reached two ATP Finals title matches in the past, losing them to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard collected four more semi-finals and missed a massive chance against Daniil Medvedev two years ago, playing well but losing 3-6, 7-6, 6-3. Nadal missed the last year's ATP Finals and looks eager to compete next week despite the issues with an abdominal injury.
Rafa skipped the second part of 2021 and made a fresh start this year.
Rafael Nadal trains ahead of the ATP Finals.
The Spaniard conquered the Australian Open and Roland Garros and reached the Wimbledon semi-final. Instead of chasing the third consecutive Major crown, Nadal withdrew ahead of the Nick Kyrgios clash due to a seven-millimeter abdominal tear, losing ground and still struggling four months later!
Rafa skipped Toronto and lost in the Cincinnati second round. He won three matches at the US Open, but the pain prevented him from serving at his best. Frances Tiafoe toppled Nadal in four sets in the fourth round, and it was the Spaniard's last singles match last week.
Rafa returned at the Paris Masters and experienced a 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 loss to Tommy Paul in two hours and 32 minutes. Nadal was a set and a break in front before Paul bounced back in the second set and claimed it in the tie break.
Struggling physically, Nadal faded from the court in the decider, losing serve three times and hitting the exit door. Tommy lost serve three times to fall behind. Still, he turned 42% of the return points into five breaks, enough to survive the second set and dominate the third.
Paul had 29 winners and 27 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and attacking. He took advantage of Rafa's 35 unforced errors and built the lead in the shortest range up to four strokes, thanks to his aggressive approach.
Nadal netted a routine forehand to lose serve at the start of the final set and missed his opportunity on the return in the fourth game. The Spaniard sprayed a volley error in game five to fall 4-1 behind and propelled the opponent over the finish line after the American's volley winner at 5-1. Rafa will be the top seed in Turin after Carlos Alcaraz's withdrawal.