Tennis: Desire to win fuels Rafael Nadal in London

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has arrived in London with the hope of winning the ATP Tour Finals for the first time despite concerns over his knee.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has arrived in London with the hope of winning the ATP Tour Finals for the first time despite concerns over his knee.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has arrived in London with the hope of winning the ATP Tour Finals for the first time despite concerns over his knee.

The Spaniard pulled out of last week's Paris Masters before his quarter-final match after experiencing discomfort in his right knee during his third-round win over Pablo Cuevas.

It raised fears the 16-time Major champion would join a lengthy list of leading names, including defending champion Andy Murray and five-time winner Novak Djokovic, who are already sidelined for the season-ender.

But following treatment in his native Mallorca, Nadal was set to hit the training court yesterday ahead of his first group match against Belgium's David Goffin on Monday.

"Hopefully the knee is good," Nadal told Sky Sports. "I've done everything I've needed to do in order to get ready for London.

"Now it's the moment to wait and practise at the O2 over the next couple of days. Let's see if I am able to be 100 per cent to compete. If nothing happens, then I will play."

Nadal, who is also grouped with Austrian Dominic Thiem and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, is mindful he has to play five matches to have any chance of lifting the trophy next Sunday.

"If I believe I cannot do that then I would not be here. I am here to try and win the tournament," the 31-year-old told Sky Sports. "You're on the World Tour Finals, you cannot expect an easy group. All the matches are difficult so you need to be ready from the start."

His coach Carlos Moya expects Nadal to contend for the title.

Swiss great Roger Federer, German Alexander Zverev, Croatian Marin Cilic, and American Jack Sock are in the other group. Federer will kick off the tournament against Sock on Sunday.

"Rafa is fine, the knee is okay," the former world No. 1 said in Milan after taking part in a coaching workshop at the Next Gen ATP Finals. "He stopped (in Paris) just to take no risks. Rafa will be competitive in London because it's the only big tournament he hasn't won."

Nadal silenced the naysayers this year by returning from an injury-plagued season to win the French Open for a 10th time before taking the US Open crown. He has already secured the year-end No. 1 ranking for the fourth time, nearly a decade after he first achieved it.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2017, with the headline 'Desire to win fuels Nadal in London'. Print Edition | Subscribe