Rafael Nadal’s bid for a first ATP Finals title ended Tuesday in Turin. The 22-time Grand Slam winner was throttled by Felix Auger-Aliassime with efficient ease 6-3, 6-4. The debutant Auger-Aliassime collected his first win in the ATP Finals.
“I think having one match here, I got used to the conditions on center court,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It helped me a lot. I felt my game was better today. My serve was great and return and backhand was much better. I was hitting it with my more consistency and quality. When I am playing like this, I have proven I can compete and beat some of the best players in the world.”
Auger-Aliassime, who still has Toni Nadal in his corner, will now face Fritz.
“I will use the experience of Toni in these situations. He has been a great help to me. I have a tonne of respect for him and his family. It is special to play Rafa with Toni here, but at the same time we are competitors, and we try our best,” he said.
For just the second time in his career Nadal has lost four straight matches, and all of them to North Americans.
Nadal will have one more match on Thursday against Casper Ruud in a rematch of their French Open final.
“Couple of positive things. I was able to play two tournaments in the past three weeks. That’s the positive thing, something that I was not able to do for a while,” Nadal said. “I don’t think I forgot how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally. I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I need to be at the level that I want to be.
“I don’t know if I going to reach that level again. But what I don’t have any doubt is that I going to die for it.”
Ruud followed in the evening winning a tight battle with Fritz. With a Ruud set win, Nadal would be eliminated and the Norwegian won two defeating Fritz 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) in a first-time meeting.
“Only a couple of points decide a match like this,” said Ruud who never faced a break point in the third. “Fortunately for me, they went my way at the end. I was 5-1 up in the tiebreak and he turned it around. He played some great points and hit some incredible winners to come back to 6-6. I hesitated a little bit at 6-4, but that is normal.
“There was a lot at stake,” he added. “I am sad for Taylor, but I was so happy to see that last forehand sail long. To book my place in the semi-finals felt great.”
The win moved Ruud back into the semifinals of the ATP Finals for the second straight year.
The Green Group clash between Fritz and Auger-Aliassime will serve as a defacto quarterfinal with the winner moving on and the loser out.
Tomorrow in the Red Group, Novak Djokovic takes on Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev meets Stefanos Tsitsipas in a match of former champions.
Djokovic and Rublev are tied 1-1 while Medvedev leads the Greek 7-3 but Tsitsipas has won three of the last five.
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