Rafael Nadal has been the second-strongest link in this season's men's tennis behind his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. Rafa claimed two Major titles at the Australian Open and Roland Garros before reaching the Wimbledon semi-final but not getting the points.
Despite injuries and setbacks, Nadal is still in the year-end no. 1 contention ahead of the ATP Finals, standing 1000 points behind Alcaraz. Stefanos Tsitsipas is the third year-end no. 1 contender, needing to score all five wins in Turin to pass Alcaraz and finish the season at the top.
Novak Djokovic helped Nadal in a way, prevailing over Stefanos in the Paris Masters semi-final and forcing the Greek to chase a perfect score in Turin to pass Nadal and Alcaraz. Rafa does not pursue ranking honors anymore, but he still wants to give his everything in Turin and chase the title he is missing.
Rafael Nadal will be the top seed at the next week's ATP Finals in Turin.
Nadal reached two ATP Finals title matches in the past, losing them to his greatest rivals, 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 experiencing a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 loss.
Rafa is not among the favorites in Turin, struggling with an abdominal injury since Wimbledon and playing only six matches since withdrawing at the All England Club. Nadal made a perfect start of the 2022 season, claiming the Australian Open and Roland Garros and building the lead in the ATP Race.
Wishing for more at Wimbledon, Rafa won five matches despite an abdominal muscle tear, struggling with his initial shot and withdrawing ahead of the semi-final clash with Nick Kyrgios. Nadal skipped Toronto and suffered the second-round loss in Cincinnati, playing miles from his best.
The Spaniard won three US Open matches before falling to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round in four sets. Nadal stayed away from the court for almost two months, trying to heal the injury and play at his best in Paris and Turin.
The Spaniard experienced his earliest Paris Masters loss after falling to Tommy Paul 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 32 minutes. Nadal probably missed the crucial points in the year-end no. 1 battle, forging a set and a break lead before losing ground.
Paul claimed the second set in the tie break and dominated the third, breaking Nadal three times to control the scoreboard and earn his career-best victory.