Rafael Nadal’s season ended with a two-set victory against Casper Ruud at the ATP Finals in Turin. That of the Spaniard was an irrelevant victory, given that he had already been ousted from the race to the semifinals. The former world number 1 had been beaten in two sets by both Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime, having to postpone for the umpteenth time the appointment with the first triumph in the Masters’ tournament.
After a simply formidable first part of the season, which gave him two Grand Slams (the Australian Open and Roland Garros), injuries once again hampered Rafa’s path. The 36-year-old from Manacor was unable to play the Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal tear.
That setback also influenced his approach to the US Open, where he surrendered in the second round to a wild Frances Tiafoe. Speaking to Eurosport, Toni Nadal revealed why his nephew almost always struggled at the ATP Finals.
Uncle Toni reflects on Nadal
“It is very difficult. When you arrive at a Grand Slam it is not the same problem because you have had a few matches. If he can pass the first week then in the second week he can win the tournament.
But here it is not the same because in the first match, you play against one of the best players in the world, and then it is too difficult,” uncle Toni said. “When Rafael Nadal arrived at the Australian Open, for example, he did not play too well in the first game, the second not too good, in the third the same, then better and better,” he explained.
At the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic has built a stature for himself as iconic as that of Rafael Nadal at the French Open and Roger Federer at Wimbledon believes tennis commentator and reporter Nick McCarvel. “In clear tennis terms, he owns that tournament,” Nick McCarvel said.
“You put him in the stature of Rafa at Roland Garros and Roger, maybe 10 years ago, the way he owned Wimbledon. 9-time champion, the surface, the conditions, he often times plays at night when the ball moves a little bit slower and that helps him just become a blue wall.
I was watching his interview with Prakash Amritraj on Tennis Channel and he was just beaming about this decision because, in clear tennis terms, it means that he gets to go back to a place that he’s been so successful,” McCarvel added.