After clinching his 20th Grand Slam equaling Roger Federer's all-time record, Rafael Nadal's goal is to finally break the ATP Finals taboo. In the Tournament of Masters the Spaniard boasts two finals, in 2010 and 2013, but has never managed to take home the most important title after the four Grand Slams.
The 34-year-old Majorcan made a great debut by beating Andrey Rublev in two quick sets, while on the second day of his group he had to surrender to a wild Dominic Thiem in two tiebreaks. Nadal could end the season at number 3 ATP if the Austrian were to shine in the latest edition of the Masters at London's O2 Arena.
The last time Rafa did not finish the season among the top two in the world dates back to 2016, although in that year he was clearly affected by a wrist injury. When asked about the subject at a press conference, Nadal confided that he was absolutely not worried.
Rafael Nadal on his schedule
"Well, I prefer to finish No. 2 than No. 3," Rafael Nadal said. "But as you can feel, I said since a lot of years ago, no, I will not follow the ranking, playing more events or playing things that I think goes against my body, against my future to try to achieve a better ranking, no? I know I have to play well when I have to play well.
And if I am playing well there, that’s gonna be my position on the ranking. If it’s second, great. If it’s first, better. If it’s third, still a positive year, no?" But Rafael Nadal asserted that he needs to prioritize his goals at this stage of his career.
He will not add more events to his schedule just to ensure a higher ranking, as he needs to be smart about his long-term future. "So that’s my approach, and that’s the way that I see my calendar today," Nadal went on.
"I have to be smart in terms of decide which goals are more important for me, and I think me and all my team we know very clear what’s the most important things for my tennis career." World No.3 Dominic Thiem displayed his on-court brilliance to defeat arch-nemesis, Rafael Nadal, at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The Austrian won the match in straight sets, with both sets going to the tiebreaker stage. The Roland Garros champion showed exquisite net play, but lost by the narrowest of margins. The 20-time Grand Slam champion exhibited rock-solid mentality by saving three match points at 4-5 down and pushed the second set into a tie-break.
Nonetheless, Thiem’s impenetrable defense overpowered Nadal as the Austrian edged past in two hours and 25 minutes. The showdown revived memories of the duo’s semifinal clash at the 2020 Australian Open, where Thiem won each of the three tiebreakers to oust Nadal.
During the post-match conference, Nadal acknowledged that despite the loss, he felt happy about his level of tennis.