LONDON, November 14, 2017
Rafael Nadal owns 75 singles championships, including 16 Grand Slams, 30 ATP Masters 1000s and an Olympic gold medal. On November 1 in Paris, the 31-year-old became the oldest year-end No. 1 since the Emirates ATP Rankings were established in 1973. But the four-time year-end No. 1 still has a glaring hole on his Hall-of-Fame résumé. He’s never won the Nitto ATP Finals in seven prior appearances.
Nadal returned Monday to The O2 in London but lost his opening match in Group Pete Sampras to Belgian David Goffin 6-7, 7-6, 4-6. The 31-year-old Spaniard saved four match points in the second set to take the match the distance but seemed to be in pain, pretty much playing on one good leg in the final set. Goffin capitalized on five of his 13 break point chances to prevail after two hours and 37 minutes.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 13. November 2017
“It was a tough fight until the end. Rafa is one of the strongest players mentally on the tour,” Goffin said.
“I am so happy to finally find the key to win this match. It is so special to do it here.
“I don’t know how I picked myself up after losing the four match points. I had no regrets and I just wanted to keep going and try to enjoy every point.
“I am really proud to be the first Belgian to be here. I see the Belgian flags in the crowd and it is so nice to be here.”
After the match, Nadal announced that he will withdraw from the remaining two matches in London.
“I made the commitment with the event, the city, with myself… I tried… I cannot keep going. It really doesn’t make sense,” Nadal said. “I knew during the match winning or losing that I was going to pull out. I’m of course disappointed.”
Dimitrov Overcomes Thiem
Earlier in the day, Nitto ATP Finals debutant Grigor Dimitrov edged past Dominic Thiem, who is playing in London for the second consecutive year, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. The 26-year-old from Bulgaria sent down eight aces, winning 80 per cent of his first service points to secure victory in two hours and 21 minutes.
“It, for me, was just one of those new experiences that I think I’m going to remember for the rest of my life, I think appreciate for the rest of my life,” Dimitrov said. “This is where I always wanted to be at, among the top players, also being able to come through in my first match, it’s only positive.”