Nadal v Fritz, Ruud v Auger-Aliassime Open Play Sunday At ATP Finals
The 2022 year-end ATP Finals kick off on Sunday with Green Group play featuring Rafael Nadal against Taylor Fritz and Casper Ruud opens the event taking on the hot-handed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Nadal, who has a shot at the No. 1 ranking this week, has never won the ATP Finals title before, one of the few big trophies not in his cabinet.
He and Fritz split two meetings earlier this year with injuries playing a role in both. Nadal and Fritz were banged up for their Indian Wells final won by the American, and then Rafa got through Fritz at Wimbledon despite an ab tear.
Nadal has played just one singles match this fall and that was a loss to Tommy Paul in Paris. He and his wife just welcomed their first child last month.
“I arrive here without match time, but in Paris I was playing well, a set and break up against Tommy Paul, a good player,” said Nadal. “I’m happy because I’ve been able to train and I’m excited to play well. If I didn’t think I had a chance to fight for what I came for, I wouldn’t be here. I think I have a chance.
“It’s clear that in the past five months, I’ve played very little,” he added. “Unfortunately, what happened at Wimbledon happened, and from there I’ve played very little. It was an accumulation of negative situations in terms of fitness,” he explained.
“To me, it’s important to end the year competing, which I wasn’t able to do in 2021. You never know. Things often change dramatically in sport. I’m playing well, but it’s better to arrive with confidence and wins because there’s no margin for error here, playing against the best.”
Fritz got into the event only after Carlos Alcaraz withdrew. But it’s been a banner year for the Californian.
“Playing Rafa is a big deal,” the 25-year-old Fritz said. “The match we had at Wimbledon was very close. Between the two matches we’ve played, there were highs and lows.
“When I started the year, my initial goal was Top 10,” he said. “After how the year started, I was like, ‘I’m definitely in a good position to make it here’. It became a goal of mine, I’m excited to be here.”
On first, two-time Slam finalist this year Casper Ruud battles arguably the hottest player this fall, Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The Canadian has won 16 of his last 17 matches losing only the Paris champion Holger Rune. In his first ATP Finals, he’s among the favorites already to win it based on form having run off three straight titles.
“I think I’ve been serving well if you look at other matches, tournaments I’ve played in the past. I feel like I’ve always had the qualities to be one of the good servers on Tour. But it’s been very consistent,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Of course it helps to play indoors, no wind, no different conditions, so if you find your rhythm and you feel like you’re serving well, you’re able to keep that consistent. That’s been a big key.”
Ruud is playing his second ATP Finals after reaching the last four a year ago.
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