Despite falling to a 0-2 record at the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday, Rafael Nadal is aiming to take the positives from his performances into his final round-robin match against Casper Ruud in Turin.
The Spaniard arrived in Turin off the back of competing in Paris and he showed glimpses of his best level against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Pala Alpitour. However, he was unable to sustain a consistent level for large periods, falling in straight sets.
“[There are a] 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 in his post-match press conference. “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 [am] going to die for it.”
Nadal enjoyed a standout first half of the season, capturing four tour-level titles, including the Australian Open and Roland Garros. However, he has played just eight singles tour-level matches since Wimbledon due to injury.
The 36-year-old struggled to deal with Taylor Fritz’s serve in his opening Green Group match and admitted he found it tough on return against Auger-Aliassime.
“I will fight until the end, but when things are going that way, is difficult to change the dynamic and the result, especially under these circumstances,” Nadal said. “With this surface, playing against big servers, great players, [I have] nothing to complain about, I just have to accept that it’s what we have today. The opponent playing the key points better.”
Despite the loss, Nadal has not been eliminated from contention for year-end No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. If Ruud wins a set against Taylor Fritz on Tuesday evening, Nadal will be eliminated from semi-final contention in Turin and therefore Carlos Alcaraz will clinch year-end World No. 1.