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Hobbled Nadal bids farewell to Finals after loss

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-15 07:13

 Hobbled Nadal bids farewell to Finals after loss

Rafael Nadal leans into a shot during his loss to David Goffin at the ATP Tour Finals in London on Monday. The world No 1 withdrew from the elite, season-ending tournament after dropping the match 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4.Tony O'brien / Action Images Via Reuters

LONDON - Rafael Nadal crashed to defeat to David Goffin on Monday, then pulled out of the ATP Finals, saying he had lost his fitness battle.

The world No 1 dug deep but was stunned 7-6 (5), 6-7(4), 6-4 by Goffin in his opening match of the end-of-season finale, which he has never won in his illustrious career.

The Spaniard came into the tournament with doubts swirling over his fitness after pulling out of the Paris Masters with a knee injury.

Initially he showed no obvious ill effects during a rollercoaster encounter in front of a supportive crowd but eventually the injury caught up with him and forced him to admit his season is over.

"No, I am off," said Nadal. "My season is finished. 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. But I am really not ready to play.

"Is about the pain. I cannot hold with enough power to keep playing. I tried, but it was a miracle to be very close in the score during the match. It really doesn't make sense."

Nadal said he would work hard to be ready for the start of next season in January.

Hobbled Nadal bids farewell to Finals after loss

"I know what I have to do," he said.

"I know all the things that happened in the past when I had these things, and I know the treatment that I had to do. I know the periods of time that I need to work. Then if the treatment works or not, we will see."

Nadal, 31, struggled to find his range early in front of a raucous crowd rooting for him.

He was broken twice in the first set by the Belgian seventh seed, who had lost their previous two encounters.

Nadal appeared to have earned a psychological edge when Goffin double-faulted while serving for the set, sending the match to a tiebreak, but the Belgian rediscovered his focus and came out on top.

The second set went with serve until the eighth game, when Goffin broke to earn a chance to serve for the match, only for Nadal to break back.

Goffin had a golden chance to seal the match in Nadal's next service game but failed to put away a mid-court forehand on match point and the left-hander knotted it 5-5.

The Belgian composed himself to hold and then earned three more match points, but Nadal, showing incredible grit and playing right at the limit, saved all three to take it to another tiebreak, which he won.

Discomfort

In the decider, Nadal appeared to feel discomfort in his right knee as he went two breaks down but still he refused to admit defeat, recovering a break before eventually succumbing.

"It was a tough fight until the end," said a relieved Goffin.

"Rafa is one of the strongest players mentally on the tour. I am so happy to finally find the key to win this match. It is so special to do it here."

Nadal has won 75 singles titles, including 16 Grand Slams and 30 Masters events but he has yet to triumph at the ATP Finals, played on quick indoor courts rather than his favored clay.

Earlier, also in the Pete Sampras group, Grigor Dimitrov held his nerve to beat Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

The Bulgarian had the edge for most of an enthralling contest of one-handed backhands in his first appearance at the ATP Finals.

The sixth seed, who has enjoyed the best season of his career, looked wobbly as he blew his chance to serve for the match at 5-4 in the decider only to hit back immediately as Thiem faltered before going on to seal victory on his third match point.

The ATP Finals feature the top eight male singles players and doubles teams that have accrued the most points throughout the 2017 season.

Agence France - presse

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