Rafael Nadal’s ATP Finals championship ambitions were scrambled on Tuesday at Turin’s Pala Alpitour Stadium when Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated the struggling Spaniard with a score of 6-3, 6-4.
For the first time in his brilliant career, Nadal needs to win the year-end championship to have a chance of finishing the season as the top player in the world, but after a promising start, he faltered horribly. The 35-year-old is currently last in the group after losing to American Taylor Fritz in his Sunday opener. The American still has one match against Norway’s Casper Ruud.
For the first time since 2009, 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal has now dropped four straight ATP Tour matches. In his final group match against Fritz, Auger-Aliassime, who is currently being coached by Toni, Nadal’s uncle and longtime mentor who sat in his box, will have a chance to advance to the round of 16.
In the opening set, Nadal occasionally had the upper hand and twice nearly broke his Canadian opponent’s service, who was defeated by Ruud on Sunday in his tournament debut. Nadal was serving at 3-4 and had a 40-0 lead, but Auger-Aliassime broke after committing a few double faults and baseline blunders. Auger-Aliassime, who has won four championships this season, closed up the first set with a strong hold and took the lead early in the second set by a break. Although Nadal displayed moments of brilliance, he was unable to make an impact and ultimately lost.