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Rafael Nadal’s mission impossible

The ATP Finals in Turin will determine the year-end no. 1 player. Carlos Alcaraz leads the charts and stands as the favorite, despite not competing in Turin. The young Spaniard is 1000 points clear of his compatriot Rafael Nadal, who made a losing start on Sunday night.

The third contender, Stefanos Tsitsipas, has to win all five ATP Finals encounters to pass a teenager and become world no. 1, which is unlikely. After the opening-round loss, Nadal has to win his first ATP Finals crown to dethrone Alcaraz and secure his sixth year-end no.

1 honor, a mission impossible as things stand now. Rafa has lost three consecutive matches for the first time since 2009, experiencing early losses at the US Open, Paris Masters and the ATP Finals to plague his chances. Nadal claimed his 22nd Major title at Roland Garros and reached the Wimbledon semi-final a few weeks later.

Rafael Nadal remains 1000 points behind Carlos Alcaraz.

Struggling with an abdominal tear, it was Nadal’s last notable result, dealing with an injury and playing only six matches in the previous four months. The Spaniard made an early exit at the Paris Masters and traveled to Turin for the ATP Finals, hoping to raise his level and gain confidence.

Nadal arrived in Italy early and had good practice sessions. Still, he is yet to shift that level to the official matches following a 7-6, 6-1 loss to Taylor Fritz in the opening round-robin clash. The American hit 22 winners and 15 unforced errors and took advantage of the Spaniard’s almost 30 unforced mistakes.

Taylor dropped 12 points behind the initial shot and never faced a break point, keeping his backhand safe and attacking to keep the points on his racquet. Rafa saved three break points in the opener to reach a tie break, giving his best to stay competitive.

He ruined that with an early double fault and lost the breaker 7-3 after Fritz’s forehand down the line winner. Nadal squandered a game point in the second set’s fourth game and sprayed a forehand mistake to fall 3-1 behind and lose ground.

The American cemented the advantage with a hold at 15 in game five and seized the fifth break chance in the next one after the Spaniard’s double fault for 5-1. Fritz held at 15 in game seven to seal the deal in style and make a winning start on his ATP Finals debut.

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