Rafael Nadal has played nine times in the ATP Finals, but has never managed to win the most prestigious tournament in the world outside the four Grand Slams. The Spanish phenomenon reached the final in 2010 and 2013, but in both cases he was forced to capitulate against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic respectively.
The former World number 1 took away the satisfaction of winning his 20th Slam this year thanks to yet another triumph at Roland Garros, as well as highlighting a greater freshness at this point of the season than in other years (also for merit of the long stop due to the pandemic).
The 34-year-old Majorcan honored the latest edition of the Masters at the O2 Arena in London by beating Andey Rublev in two quick sets, but on the second day of his group he surrendered to a wild Dominic Thiem in two tiebreaks.
Rafa will meet with Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday to try and grab the semifinals. Speaking on Amazon Prime Video, former WTA number 5 Daniela Hantuchova believes Nadal has a big chance this year.
Hantuchova on Rafael Nadal
"Oh big time," said Daniela Hantuchova, when asked about Nadal's hunger to win his first season-ending title.
"I think this is the title that he's missing and Rafael Nadal wants people to stop talking about it. But at the same time, I think he's accepting that if it doesn't happen to him, then he's still going to retire being very happy.
So he's not going to be losing any sleep over this title." Former US Open finalist Greg Rusedski, who is also a tennis analyst on Amazon Prime, observed that Rafael Nadal is in London with both his coaches - Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig.
According to the Brit, this is the first time the Spaniard has done that. "Usually, it's only one coach that travels with him, his physical trainer, physio and the rest of the team. So Rafael Nadal's trying something a little bit different," Rusedski said.
"It's a question mark whether it's a tactical thing or is that because he's not quite sure what he needs to do indoors to get the job done at these ATP Finals." After a long time, Nadal looks like a serious contender for the ATP Finals title.
He has a tough group involving the defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and the 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, but both of them can be a cakewalk for Nadal if he gets into his groove.