Rafael Nadal will have to wait another year to win the ATP World Tour Finals after losing his opening match to David Goffin 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-4 last Monday at the O2 Arena, and subsequently withdrawing from the season-ending tournament.
Nadal pulled out of the Paris Masters at the quarter-final stage 10 days earlier and admitted ahead of the ATP Finals on the indoor hard-court he struggles on, that his knees, which have caused him trouble throughout his career, were still not perfect.
He’s learning to be careful, he’s listening to his body more than before and probably if this was the beginning of the year and another tournament he wouldn’t play. It’s the last tournament, it’s the Masters Cup… he’s listening more and more and he has to. Carlos Moya
Despite having qualified 13 consecutive times for the ATP Finals, only eight of which he’s been fit enough to compete in, Nadal has never won the event.
Spain continued to be represented, however, as Nadal was replaced by US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.
“My season is finished,” Nadal said. “Yeah, I had the commitment with the event, with the city, with myself. I tried hard.
“I did the thing that I had to do to try to be ready to play. I tried, but seriously was miracle to be very close in the score during the match.”
Nadal ominously waved goodbye as he left the court, bringing to an end another auspicious season.
He won his 10th French Open in June, added a third U.S. Open in September and, at 31, became the oldest man to end the year atop of the rankings.
With the Australian Open still over two months away, Nadal was confident playing in London wouldn’t have done any lasting damage.
“The good thing is [this injury is] nothing new,” Nadal said. “Everybody of my team, we have the right experience on this thing.
“We hope to manage it well, to have the right rest, the right work, and try to be ready for the beginning of the next season.”
Interviewed by Sport360, Carlos Moya admitted that Rafael Nadal had only been playing because it was the year-end finals.
“Nadal is still dealing with some right knee issues, but in the tournament where he lost both finals played (in 2010 to Roger Federer and in 2013 to Novak Djokovic) he wants to give a chance to finally achieve the title.
“He’s learning to be careful, he’s listening to his body more than before and probably if this was the beginning of the year and another tournament he wouldn’t play’, Moya said.
“It’s the last tournament, it’s the Masters Cup… he’s listening more and more and he has to.
“I think it can’t get any better than this, he won two Slams and finished No 1 in the world, it was like a dream come true. What I’m learning, I try to learn every day being with such a tremendous player.
“The mentality he has, that never giving up attitude, I don’t think he gave up not even one point this year, so that’s something that you rarely see in all the other players, how he’s able to turn things around when he’s in trouble, that thing still amazes me.
“I don’t know if you can teach that or a player can learn that but it’s something, after what I’ve seen all these years, it keeps me really amazed what he’s doing.”