Rafael Nadal’s bizarre ATP Finals record: Can the 22-time Grand Slam winner end the hoodoo?
What’s the story with Rafael Nadal’s shoddy ATP Finals record? The tennis great has won 92 singles titles, but not one of those came at the prestigious season-ending tournament.
Nadal is set for an 11th appearance at the Finals in Italy next week, but his record will certainly leave you scratching your head as it is one of two glaring omissions from his impressive CV – the other being the Paris Masters title.
Before this year, he qualified 16 times for the end-of-year event, but played in only 10 tournaments and has a 56% win record with his overall statistics reading: 36 matches played, 20 won, 16 lost.
In his 10 appearances, he reached the final only twice – 2010 and 2013 – and the semi-finals four times. He exited at the round-robin stage in 2009, 2011, 2017 and 2019.
Of course, injury has often played a major role in Nadal’s tennis career and the ATP Finals is no different as his 2017 edition was ended by a knee problem while he missed the 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 tournaments due to injury.
Last year he failed to qualify for the first time in 17 years as he missed most of the campaign due to his long-standing foot problem.
And even heading into the 2022 edition there are doubts over whether or not he will actually play on the indoor hard courts at the Pala Alpitour in Turin as he is lacking match fitness.
Since his fourth-round loss at the US Open against Frances Tiafoe, Nadal has played only two matches – one a doubles defeat in Roger Federer’s farewell match at the Laver Cup and a shock first-round defeat at the hands of Tommy Paul at the Paris Masters last week.
After his Paris-Bercy exit, he admitted that he is not match fit, but will try his best to make it to Italy.
“I am going to try — [if] nothing happens, if I am feeling okay — to be there [in Turn] a little bit earlier than usual and have some practices,” the Spaniard said.
“Just give myself a chance to enjoy another Finals. You never know when it is going to be the last, especially at my age. So I’m going to give my best to enjoy this one, and then [the] next years of course I’m going to fight to be back there.”
At the age of 36 and with his injuries, he is right “you never know when it is coming to be the last”.
Of course, there is not just a maiden ATP Finals trophy on the line for Nadal in Turin as he is also in with a chance of finishing the year as the world No 1.
With compatriot Carlos Alcaraz missing the event due to an abdominal injury, he could usurp the teenager as he is only 1,000 points behind in the standings. However, he will need to reach at least the final to have any chance of finishing as the year-end No 1 for a fifth time in his career.
There is a chance that he could get a nightmare draw in Turin as he could end up with Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Novak Djokovic in the same group. But as they say, every game is difficult in sport.
However, if Nadal does end up finishing his career without an ATP Finals trophy, it will make for a fine pub question one day, but it will have absolutely no impact on his overall standing as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
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