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Nitto ATP Finals 2019: Pain-free Nadal 'not good enough' against Zverev

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 12 Nov 2019
  • World No. 1, Rafael Nadal fell to defending champion, Alexander Zverev in his opening match at the Nitto ATP Finals
  • Nadal has admitted he was not good enough on the night
Rafael Nadal (Photo by: Roberto Zanettin/LPS via ZUMA Wire)

World No. 1, Rafael Nadal suffered a crushing defeat to defending champion, Alexander Zverev in his opening match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday night. 

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Nadal went into the contest with a 5-0 record against Zverev, but he was a distant second best on Monday, falling 6-2 6-4 to the German in just an hour and 24 minutes.

The great Spaniard had been a doubt for the Nitto ATP Finals after withdrawing from the Paris Masters just before his semi-final against Denis Shapovalov due to an abdominal injury, but he took to the court on Monday, starting his bid for what would be a maiden title at the year-end event. 

Nadal refused to blame any injuries for his defeat, declaring himself pain-free during his post-match press conference.

“The physical issue was not an excuse at all. The only excuse is I was not good enough tonight,” said Nadal.  
“No complaint about the physical condition. No pain in abdominal", The Spaniard continued. "That's the only positive thing, honestly. That's all. Happy the way that [the] abdominal [felt], and hopefully I can continue like this, because it's true that I was not able to create a lot of practice and a lot of effort on that part of the body since last Saturday”.

Nadal did admit that he lacked a bit of match sharpness and confidence, but what he was most disappointed with was that he could not channel his famous competitive spirit to offer more of a challenge to the excellent Zverev.

“I stay positive. I stay competitive, something that today I was not,” Nadal said. “That's the thing that I am more disappointed [with], because knowing that I will not be at my 100 per cent in terms of feelings, in terms of movement, in terms of confidence or hitting the ball, I needed my best competitive spirit this afternoon, and I was not there in that way.”

Nadal's lead over Novak Djokovic in the race for the year-end world No. 1 ranking is now down to 440 points.


While Nadal was not at his best, Zverev was superb all through, rekindling some of the form that propelled him to the Nitto ATP Finals title last season. The German was untouchable on serve, banging down 11 aces and winning 88% of points on his first serve. He didn't face any break point all through, while he was clinical on return, converting three of the four opportunities he created on the Nadal serve. 

“The whole thing was about the serve,” Zverev said. “Obviously when I play this aggressive tennis, when I play this way, I have now beaten all three guys on this court, Big 3, so it shows that I can play very well and beat the top players.”

Beyond his serving brilliance, Zverev was ultra-aggressive from the back of the court, pouncing on anything short (and there were a lot), to constantly keep Nadal on the back foot. The German struck 28 winners, more than doubling Nadal's tally. His backhand was typically rock solid, but what was more impressive was the potency of his forehand- one particular shot on the run in the latter stages pf second set standing out.

“I was looking forward to this match, and thanks a lot for all the support, everybody who came out... The atmosphere is the reason why everybody is trying, the goal of the beginning of the season is to make London. Because playing here, playing in front of you all, playing in The O2 is something that we don't have during the year, and this is so special.”

Next up for Zverev is a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday, as the duo battle for top spot in the group, while Nadal faces Daniil Medvedev in a repeat of the US Open final- both men seeking their first wins at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals.


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Nitto ATP Finals 2019: Pain-free Nadal "not good enough" against Zverev

World No. 1, Rafael Nadal admitted he was not good enough on the night following his defeat to defending champion, Alexander Zverev at the Nitto ATP Finals

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