A day after clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking, Rafael Nadal came up with a strong performance beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 on the final day of round robin play at the ATP Finals in London.
Nadal needed the win to stay alive in the semifinal race, but later was eliminated when Alexander Zverev swept away Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 7-6(4) to earn the final spot.
“Preparations have been very short and it’s the worst tournament possible to arrive without the best preparation possible,” Nadal said of his results. “In other tournaments, sometimes you can be a little bit more lucky with the draw. You can win two matches and then you have a tough one, but you will be more prepared for it.
“But here, on the first day, you play one of the best players in the world on a tough surface. If you don’t arrive with plenty of confidence in your body and your movements, things become much more difficult. I think that’s what happened. Then I think I have been improving on my tennis each day.”
Nadal still has Davis Cup next week if he’s able, otherwise this was his last match of the year.
Meanwhile, Tsitsipas returns tomorrow to face Roger Federer in his semifinal.
“My body feels well currently. I don’t feel pain anywhere. I feel fresh, honestly,” Tsitsipas said. “After having a long, difficult match like this, I feel like I can go out and play tomorrow the same way. So I don’t have any problem with that.”
Later, Zverev got back to the semifinals with a tough win over Medvedev who ends his first ATP Finals without winning a match and was eliminated before he took the court.
“[Daniil] had nothing to lose here. For me, this was a must-win situation,” Zverev said. “All credit to Daniil. It’s been an unbelievable season for him, and I think he’s going to be very dangerous next year as well.”
The German will continue his title defense tomorrow against Dominic Thiem.
“[Thiem] has been playing some unbelievable tennis, maybe the best tennis that we have ever seen from him,” said Zverev. “Actually beating Roger and Novak on this court is very special. Doing it back-to-back is very, very difficult.”
Thiem leads Zverev 5-2 in their meetings.
“The O2 is the most special arena for me. It’s where I play my best tennis,” Zverev said. “The atmosphere here is something we don’t play in anywhere else in the world. It’s so special to us.
“I’ve still got to improve. We’re in the semifinals now and it doesn’t get any easier from here. I’m going to have to play my best tennis to have a chance.”
Federer has won two of three over Tsitsipas including a Basel win last month.
SATURDAY ATP FINALS LONDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court Starts At 12:00 Noon
SF 5 Raven Klaasen-Michael Venus v 1 Juan Sebastian Cabal-Robert Farah
Not Before 2:00 Pm
SF 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas v 3 Roger Federer
Not Before 6:00 Pm
SF 7 Pierre-Hugues Herbert-Nicolas Mahut v 2 Lukasz Kubot-Marcelo Melo
Not Before 8:00 Pm
SF 5 Dominic Thiem v 7 Alexander Zverev
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