Rafael Nadal is on a losing streak of three matches for the fourth time in a career and the first since 2009! The Spaniard has dealt with an abdominal injury since Wimbledon, withdrawing ahead of the semi-final at the All England Club and playing only six matches since.
He reached the US Open fourth round despite the pain and lost three straight encounters against the young Americans. Frances Tiafoe toppled Nadal in New York, and the Spaniard stayed away from the court for two months. He returned to action at the Paris Masters and fell to Tommy Paul 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 despite having a set and a break lead!
Rafa failed to close the match in the second set and had nothing left in the tank in the decider after feeling stomach issues. Hoping for a better run, the Spaniard kicked off his 11th ATP Finals campaign in Turin against Taylor Fritz and suffered a 7-6, 6-1 defeat in an hour and 37 minutes.
The American used the fast indoor court to impose his strokes and dictate the pace, hitting 22 winners and 15 unforced errors. Also, Fritz never faced a break point, keeping his backhand safe and neutralizing the rival's forehand to overpower him in the exchanges.
Nadal stayed competitive in the opening set after fending off three break points. Still, he made an early mistake in the tie break and dropped it 7-3 after the rival's forehand winner to send momentum to the other side.
Rafael Nadal lost to Taylor Fritz at the start of the ATP Finals.
Nadal squandered a game point in the second set's fourth game and sprayed a forehand mistake to fall 3-1 behind.
The American confirmed the lead with a hold at 15 a few minutes later and pushed strong on the return in game six. The younger player converted the fifth break chance after Nadal's double fault and served for the victory at 5-1.
Fritz held at 15 in game seven to move over the top and make a winning ATP Finals debut. Rafa admitted he could not do much against such a great server, struggling to handle the rival's power and impose his shots in the rallies.
Nadal will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime in a must-win match for both. Rafa explained it's a regular ATP event for him and Felix now, with a losing player leaving the competition and heading home. The veteran is still in the year-end no.
1 contention but has to win the title to take the throne from Carlos Alcaraz. "The ATP Finals has become a regular tournament for Felix and me, with a loser going home. I accept that I have to improve my game, and I hope to be ready and make that happen.
Felix has played unbelievable tennis in the season's closing stages, winning three consecutive titles and performing well. It's another big challenge for me," Rafael Nadal said.