Rafael Nadal beats Stefanos Tsitsipas to keep his ATP Finals hopes alive
Rafael Nadal demonstrated his fighting qualities once again to battle back from behind to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and keep his ATP Finals hopes alive.
Nadal, who would have been eliminated with a defeat, won 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 in their final group match in London.
However, the Spanish top seed will still not make Saturday’s semi-finals if defending champion Alexander Zverev beats Daniil Medvedev later on Friday.
With Tsitsipas already through, Zverev can join him at Nadal’s expense.
Nadal, 33, is relying on a favour from Russian fourth seed Medvedev, who has been knocked out of the tournament by the 19-time Grand Slam champion’s win.
Against Tsitsipas, Nadal produced another super-human effort to earn a victory which might ultimately prove fruitless.
After doing the same to beat Medvedev in their second round-robin match on Wednesday, a lifeless performance in his opener against Zverev could prove to be his downfall.
Nadal, who has never won the season-ending ATP Tour tournament, showed the grit, determination and never-say-die attitude that have been the hallmarks of his illustrious career to beat Tsitsipas in two hours and 52 minutes at the O2 Arena.
He was edged out of a tight first set in the tie-break before starting to hit more winners than unforced errors and tip the balance of the match in his favour.
Tsitsipas was the player under all the pressure on serve, facing nine break points in the match with Nadal needing to convert just one in each of the final two sets.
Nadal himself served supremely and did not face a single break point.
“I did all the things I could do, fighting until the end,” Nadal told the crowd.
“If I am able to play in front of you tomorrow against Roger it will be a huge honour. If not, I hope to see you next year.” (BBC)