'OFFIN SHOCKS .ADAL
LONDON (AFP) – Rafael Nadal pulled out of the ATP Finals on Monday, admitting he had lost his fitness battle after crashing to defeat in three sets to David Goffin in a thrilling encounter. The world number one dug deep but was stunned 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 by Goffin in his opening match of the end-ofseason finale, which he has never won in his illustrious career.
The Spaniard came into the tournament with doubts swirling over his fitness after pulling out of the Paris Masters with a knee injury.
Initially he showed no obvious ill-effects during a rollercoaster round-robin encounter in front of a supportive crowd but eventually his injury caught up with him and forced him to admit his season is over.
“No, I am off,” said Nadal. “My season is finished. Yeah, I had the commitment with the event, with the city, with myself. I tried hard. I did the thing that I had to do to try to be ready to play. But I am really not ready to play.”
Nadal said he would work hard to be ready for the start of the next season.
Nadal, 31, struggled to find his range early in front of a raucous crowd rooting for him and was broken twice in the first set by the Belgian seventh seed, who had lost their previous two encounters.
The Spaniard appeared to have earned a psychological edge when Goffin double-faulted while serving for the set and the match went into a tiebreak but the Belgian re-found his focus to come out on top.
Earlier, also in the Pete Sampras group, Grigor Dimitrov held his nerve to beat Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
The elegant Bulgarian had the edge for most of an enthralling contest of one-handed backhands but admitted he felt ‘‘pretty nervous’’ in his first appearance at the ATP Finals.
The sixth seed, who has enjoyed the best season of his career, looked wobbly as he blew his chance to serve for the match at 5-4 in the decider only to hit back immediately as Thiem himself faltered and going on to seal victory on his third match point.
The ATP Finals feature the top eight fit male singles players and doubles teams that have accrued the most points throughout the 2017 season.
DAVID Goffin celebrates his stunning 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 win over world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal waves to his supporters as he heads to the dugout.