In­jury forces Nadal to fo­cus on 2018

World No 1 ‘not go­ing to cry’ af­ter be­ing forced to with­draw from ATP World Tour Fi­nals

The National - News - - SPORT - JON TURNER

Rafael Nadal re­fused to be down­beat at the in­jury-en­forced end to his sea­son, in­stead choos­ing to fo­cus on be­ing ready for the start of 2018.

Nadal, 31, pulled out of the ATP Fi­nals in London on Mon­day fol­low­ing a 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 de­feat to Bel­gian David Gof­fin in his first match of the sea­son-end­ing tour­na­ment.

There were con­cerns ahead of the event that Nadal was still strug­gling with the knee in­jury that led to his with­drawal dur­ing the Paris Masters.

De­spite a typ­i­cally bat­tling per­for­mance against Gof­fin, the Spa­niard was clearly hin­dered by the prob­lem.

“My sea­son is fin­ished,” Nadal told re­porters fol­low­ing the loss to Gof­fin.

“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.

“It’s about the pain. I can­not hold with enough power to keep play­ing. I tried, but se­ri­ously it was a mir­a­cle to be very close in the score dur­ing the match. It re­ally did not make sense.”

Given Nadal’s un­for­tu­nate record with knee in­juries through­out his ca­reer, he will hope the lat­est set­back will not prove to be a long-term is­sue.

De­spite the frus­trat­ing end to his year, Nadal has de­fied most ex­pec­ta­tions, in­clud­ing his own, with the level of suc­cess he has achieved in 2017.

Six ti­tles have been won, in­clud­ing his 10th French Open and third US Open, tak­ing his to­tal grand slam ti­tles to 16. Nadal also lifted tro­phies in Bei­jing, Madrid, Barcelona, and Monte Carlo.

“I am, of course, dis­ap­pointed,” Nadal said. “But I am not go­ing to cry.

“I had a great sea­son. I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate all the things that hap­pened to me dur­ing the whole sea­son.

“I am go­ing to work hard to try to give me more chances the next sea­son to keep be­ing at the top and fight­ing for the most im­por­tant things.”

Part of Nadal’s prepa­ra­tions for next sea­son will in­clude a trip to Abu Dhabi for the Mubadala World Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships (MWTC) where he is the de­fend­ing cham­pion.

The six-player tour­na­ment will also fea­ture for­mer world No 1 No­vak Djokovic, three­time grand slam cham­pion Stan Wawrinka, for­mer Wim­ble­don fi­nal­ist Mi­los Raonic, world No 5 Do­minic Thiem, and world No 10 Pablo Car­reno Busta, who, in­ci­den­tally, has re­placed Nadal at the ATP Fi­nals.

Nadal ar­rived at the MWTC last year ranked No 9, fol­low­ing an in­jury-short­ened 2016 sea­son. Af­ter win­ning the MWTC ti­tle for a fourth time, Nadal pro­ceeded to the Aus­tralian Open fi­nal be­fore em­bark­ing on a year that cul­mi­nated with his re­turn to the top rank­ing.

He will there­fore hope the Abu Dhabi tour­na­ment can have a sim­i­lar ef­fect this time around, al­though the im­me­di­ate fo­cus will be on get­ting healthy.

“I can’t com­plain.

“I feel very lucky about all the things that are hap­pen­ing to me,” Nadal said.

“But on the other hand, it is true that I am prob­a­bly the top player that had more in­juries and more trou­bles in the ca­reers of every­one.

“It is al­ways about this chal­lenge. But I am used to this and I know what I have to do. I think I am ready to do it.”

AFP

Jack Sock of Amer­ica over­came a tough re­sis­tance from Croa­tia’s Marin Cilic to win 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 in their round-robin match on Day 3 of the ATP World Tour Fi­nals at the O2 Arena in London yes­ter­day. De­feat for Cilic en­sured the Croa­t­ian has one vic­tory in eight matches in his ca­reer at the sea­son-end­ing tour­na­ment

Trou­bled by a knee in­jury, Rafael Nadal’s re­cov­ery proved in­com­plete as he lost his first match to David Gof­fin

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