RAFA Nadal First To Officially Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Spot, Zverev and Federer Next In Line

Written by: on 10th August 2018
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Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland during the third round of the Rogers Cup men's tennis tournament in Toronto, Canada, 09 August 2018. EPA-EFE/WARREN TODA

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland during the third round of the Rogers Cup men's tennis tournament in Toronto, Canada, 09 August 2018. EPA-EFE/WARREN TODA  |

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal has never won the year-end championship and he withdrew after one match last fall. He will have a chance to make amends for those disappointments–if he is still healthy come November–this season.

Nadal became the first player to clinch a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals when he beat Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 7-6(4) in round three of the Rogers Cup on Thursday night.

“It was a good match,” Nadal said after picking up his second match victory of the week in Toronto, having previously beat down Benoit Paire. “Of course, a very positive victory for me against a very tough opponent. (I’m) happy to see Stan playing that well again. So I am very pleased. That’s what I needed–a match like this to be a little bit more confident, and I did it.”

The Spaniard’s place at the O2 Arena in London was a foregone conclusion going into this tournament, with one major title (his 11th at the French Open), two slam semifinals (the Australian Open and Wimbledon), two Masters 1000 titles (Monte-Carlo and Rome), and an additional triumph in Barcelona. But it became official on Wednesday, when he took his 2018 point total to 5,940. It is mathematically impossible for eight other players to reach the 5,875-point mark this season–currently the magic number to clinch a berth in the London finale.

Part of the reason why Nadal has never won the year-end championship, aside from the fact that an indoor hard-court is not favorable for his game, is that he has made only eight career appearances. The current world No. 1 has now qualified 14 times, but injuries have often prevented from successfully finishing seasons. Nadal attempted to play in 2017 but withdrew after losing his first-round robin match to David Goffin. The 32-year-old is 12-9 lifetime in six trips to London, with three semifinal appearances–including two runner-ups.

Alexander Zverev is currently second in the race to the O2, followed by Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, and Kevin Anderson. John Isner and Fabio Fognini stand as the two alternates as of now.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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