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Zverev Advances In London Tennis • Nadal Exits With ATP Year-End No. 1 Ranking

By Ricky Dimon

This time around, Rafael Nadal did not get the help he needed

After Roger Federer’s victory over Novak Djokovic at the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking for Nadal, the Spaniard’s semifinal hopes inside the O2 arena rested on the shoulders of Daniil Medvedev on Friday night. Medvedev failed to deliver, falling 6-4, 7-6(4) to Alexander Zverev–a result that put the German ahead of Nadal in Group Andre Agassi

Zverev snagged the second seed out of the group with his second win of the week and will face Dominic Thiem in the semifinals on Saturday. Stefanos Tsitsipas, also 2-1, won the group and will meet Roger Federer. Nadal’s 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Tsitsipas in the Friday afternoon match gave him a 2-1 record, as well, but a worse percentage of sets won cost him in the tiebreaker with Tsitsipas and Zverev.

Thus the 33-year-old is heading out of London, but not without another trophy in hand. Following his win over Tsitsipas, Nadal was presented with the year-end No. 1 trophy during an on-court ceremony.

“For me (what) was important–more than being in that semifinals or not; of course I would love to be–is to go from here with the feeling that I did all the things possible to be there and to finalize the ATP year with a positive feeling,” Nadal explained. “And that’s what I did, because I think I played a good match today.

“I think this trophy is the work of the whole year, a great year in all terms. Yeah, (to) have this trophy with me is a big personal satisfaction. I think we did a lot of things well during the whole year. Of course the team and the family played a very important role this year, even more than other times because have been some tough moments at the beginning of the season in terms of physical issues that demoralize me a little bit. So they played a very important role, so I can’t thank all of them enough for all the support. Yeah, (I’m) super happy for everything, honestly. (To) have this trophy with me with this big gap between the first time until today, 11 years, is a big thing.”

Since finishing year-end No. 1 for the first time in 2008, Nadal has added four more such accomplishments to his resume for five overall. That ties current rivals Federer and Djokovic in the history books while trailing Pete Sampras by one.

“Of course it’s important to share five years each other with Novak and with Roger,” said the 19-time Grand Slam champion, who becomes the oldest-ever year-end No. 1. “(It) is something that gives me very personal satisfaction, because (to) have the chance to equal both of them after missing a couple of years [due to] injuries means a lot.”

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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