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Nadal eliminated from Nitto ATP Finals contention, Alcaraz clinches year-end No. 1

A year-end championship title remains elusive for Rafael Nadal.

The 36-year-old Spaniard was eliminated from semifinal contention at the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday, when he fell to Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud defeated Taylor Fritz. Nadal, who lost to Fritz in straight sets on Sunday, succumbed to Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-4 after one hour and 56 minutes.

Bidding for a first ATP Finals trophy and having reached the final on just two occasions, Nadal’s chances were never considered high this week. He had played only one match in between the U.S. Open and his arrival in Turin, losing it to Tommy Paul at the Paris Masters. Rust and unfavorable conditions have contributed to a pair of straight-set setbacks inside the Pala Alpitour.

“I mean, I don’t think I forget how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally,” Nadal commented. “I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I need to be at the level that I want to be. I don’t know if I am going to reach that level again, but what I don’t have any doubt (about is) that I (am) going to die for it.”

The 22-time Grand Slam champion will play a meaningless match–aside from ranking points and prize money–against Ruud on Thursday. Ruud clinched first place in the Green Group by outlasting Fritz 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) later on Tuesday. Fritz vs. Auger-Aliassime will be for the second semifinal spot in the Green Group.

Nadal’s exit means Carlos Alcaraz has clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking. Alcaraz, who won the U.S. Open plus Masters 1000 events in Miami and Madrid, is sidelined from Turin by an oblique injury.

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