The World number 1, Rafa Nadal, had to call it quits for the year, as his recurring knee injury made him suffer.
Unfortunately the story of the last year’s number 1 repeats and that says a lot of how much a player has to give in order to reach these heights.
The multiple injuries of great champions is not a proof that ATP’s schedule is too busy, but it means that the change of the guard had to happen. Before most of the top players were retiring when turning 30 or so, but now people expect, unrealistically, for all of them to play until 36.
The King of clay fought hard against a spirited David Goffin, which came into the match really determined.
The Belgian had himself a knee strap, but showed no sign of injury, as he was moving fast and responded well to such a physical match. He was moving Nadal from left to right and made him run.
But as we know Nadal, he fought like a true warrior he is. He went through severe pain, but didn’t quit, struggling to stay close to Goffin until the end. He had difficulty on reaching points which normally would cause no issue.
David had several chances to close the match, but Nadal was stubborn, keeping himself with a chance, even if he was running mostly in one leg.
The match was finally won by Goffin, representing his first win over a number 1, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4.
A frustrated and disappointed Nadal declared after the match:
I am off and the season is finished. I am really not ready to play.
I really fought a lot during the match knowing probably it was a big chance [that it would be] the last match of the season. It’s about the pain and I cannot hold with enough power to keep playing.
This marks the 6th time when Nadal withdraws from the World Tour Finals. His risky decision to play here and in Paris could’ve made his injury worse. This could mean that his Australian Open participation is in jeopardy.
With champions like Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Nishikori returning next year, his recurring problem definitely means that keeping the world number 1 rank becomes an impossible mission.
In the other match of the day, Grigor Dimitrov found a way to defeat the World number 4, Dominic Thiem, in a long and spectacular match, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.