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ATP Finals: Rafael Nadal Signs Off with Win to Avoid Matching Worst Run

By: Sports Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: November 17, 2022, 21:41 IST

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Tennis legend Rafael Nadal (AP)

Tennis legend Rafael Nadal (AP)

Rafael Nadal defeated Casper Ruud 7-5 7-5 at the ATP Finals to avoid matching his worst ever losing sequence in a season

Rafael Nadal may be heading home but he made sure he avoided matching his worst ever losing sequence with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Norway’s Casper Ruud at the ATP Finals on Thursday.

Back-to-back straight sets defeats in the Green Group by Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime meant the 22-time Grand slam champion missed out on the semi-finals.

But the Spaniard was clearly eager not to end a season that began in such spectacular fashion by succumbing to a fifth successive defeat — something the 36-year-old had not experienced since before his career took off in 2004-05.

With world number four Ruud already assured of a semi-final berth the match was in reality a dead rubber.

Even so the first set was full of intensity inside the Pala Alpitour where the afternoon crowd were firmly behind Nadal.

Nadal fought off a couple of break points at 4-4 in the opening set as Ruud threatened but after that the Mallorcan found the range on his forehand.

The 23-year-old Ruud went down 0-40 on serve at 5-6 and world number two Nadal needed just one chance to seal the set, punching away a volley into an empty court.

It was a similar story in the second set with nothing between the players until Nadal pounced again in the 12th game.

Ruud saved one match point but Nadal then clubbed away a backhand winner to finish his season on a high.

“I have been practising well," said Nadal, who was struggled with injury since scratching from the Wimbledon semi-final in July.

“Just probably not enough matches to be at the level that I needed to be. Not enough confidence, probably, after six tough months. That’s how it is. I accept that the season didn’t end the way that I wanted. At least I finished with a positive victory."

“I can’t ask for more," said Nadal. “2022 has had a tough six months, two Grand Slams, and finishing the year in a high spot in the rankings.

“At my age, to be able to achieve and be competitive means a lot for me."

Nadal already has the 2023 season, which begins in January, in his sights.

“For 2023, just let’s try to have the right preparation, work the proper way and start the season with the right energy, the right attitude, to reach the level that I need to be competitive from the beginning. Let’s try it, I am excited about it."

Ruud will go on to the semi-finals but is now 0-8 against opponents ranked in the top three.

Later on Thursday debutants Auger-Aliassime and Fritz face off with a semi-final place at stake.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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first published:November 17, 2022, 21:29 IST
last updated:November 17, 2022, 21:41 IST
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