Rafael Nadal finished the season with a victory at the ATP Finals. Nadal toppled Casper Ruud 7-5, 7-5 in the last round-robin match to end his streak of four straight losses. Also, it was Rafa's first triumph as a father, welcoming his son Rafael in October and needing 40 days to celebrate the first win with a new family member.
Nadal experienced an abdominal injury at Wimbledon, reaching the semi-final before withdrawing ahead of the Nick Kyrgios clash. The Spaniard played only one match ahead of the US Open and could not play injury-free in New York.
Rafa fell to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round and stayed away from the court for almost two months. Nadal knew he could not expect much during the indoor swing in Paris and Turin, struggling to find form after such a long break and losing four straight matches for the first time since 2009!
Rafael Nadal defeated Casper Ruud at the ATP Finals.
Rafa fell to Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime at the ATP Finals before facing Casper Ruud in the season's last encounter. Eager to end the losing streak and gain some momentum ahead of 2023, the Spaniard prevailed over the Norwegian 7-5, 7-5 in an hour and 42 minutes.
Rafa used the fast indoor court to blast 16 aces (five in a row, probably for the first time in a career), dropping only 11 points behind the initial shot and saving two break points. Casper faced three break points and got broken in the closing stages of each set to finish the round-robin action with a 2-1 score and advance into the last four for the second straight year.
Nadal had the upper hand in the shortest and more advanced exchanges, firing 37 winners and 16 unforced errors and playing his best match in months. Both players served well in the early stages and reached 4-4 in 32 minutes.
Nadal netted a routine forehand in the ninth game and experienced a break point. He saved it after Ruud's mistake and denied the second with a service winner for a massive hold. The Spaniard held at 15 in the 11th game and created three set points at 6-5 after the Norwegian's mistakes.
Nadal seized the first with a smash winner at the net for 7-5 in 51 minutes. The second set offered more comfortable holds, and Rafa fired an ace in the 11th game for 6-5. Nadal placed a forehand crosscourt winner in the 12th game for two match points and cracked a backhand crosscourt winner on the second to emerge at the top and wrap up the season with a win.