The Spaniard, who has been among the top 10 players since April 2005, has qualified for the year-end championships as many as 17 times. The other seven players in the competition this year include Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev, and Taylor Fritz.
The 36-year-old Spaniard will have to first channel his energy towards Fritz, Auger-Aliassime, and Ruud, all of whom have been drawn into his group. Given his recent form and continued struggles with injuries, Nadal is once again not among the favorites to go all the way. He lost to Tommy Paul in the second round of the Paris Masters last week.
Speaking on the Court-Side with Beilinson Tennis podcast, journalist Steve Flink stated that the rest of the field could prove dangerous for the World No. 2, especially because he didn't play many matches in the lead-up to Turin.
"Rafa talked about the need to play more matches, he talked about getting to Italy early to play practice sets but practice sets are nothing like playing real matches. It just helps you but it is not the same thing," Flink said. "So it was unfortunate that he didn't get more matches in Paris in advance of Turin to give himself a better chance because the field has so much depth. It's going to be such a hard-fought event and both groups of four players each are going to be exceedingly strong."
While pointing out that Nadal was the least comfortable indoors, Flink praised him for always overcoming his doubts and said he still thought that the Mallorcan's fighting spirit would make him difficult to beat.
"So it's going to be hard for Rafa because he has always been the least comfortable indoors. He could well prove me wrong. He's is one of these guys who, no matter how many negative comments he makes, 'doubt' is one of his favorite words, he overcomes his doubts. I still think we'll see him go in with the usual fighting spirit. So he'll still be hard to beat but I don't like the conditions. It tends to be fast in Turin," he added.
"The foot seems okay" - Steve Flink on Rafael Nadal's long-term injury
Over the last few months, Rafael Nadal has struggled a lot with a recurring foot issue, which started way back in 2005. The star player was seen limping multiple times and even used injections to numb his foot during the 2022 French Open, where he won his 22nd Major. However, the Spaniard has not had any complaints about it since his triumph in Paris.
During his conversation on the Court-Side with Beilinson Tennis podcast, Steve Flink expressed his relief that Nadal's foot was finally not an issue anymore. He still wasn't sure about the player's abdominal issues, though, which surfaced at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships.
"Jim Courier made an interesting point that the good news for Rafa is that there seems to be no evidence of the foot problem. The foot seems okay. It didn't seem to be a problem at Wimbledon, the US Open, or again here. So at least that seems under control. I don't know about the abdominal. I still don't think he's serving like the real Rafa. I didn't see it against Tommy Paul. I don't see the comfortable extension that he once had. So I'm a bit concerned about that," Flink said.