The season-ending ATP Finals is the only big trophy missing from Rafael Nadal's cabinet. And his inability to win the elusive title in 2020 was "hard to digest" for the Spaniard, according to his coach Carlos Moya.
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a shutdown of the tennis circuit for five months, Nadal arrived in London this year fresher than he has ever been. Having just clinched a record-extending 13th French Open title, the 34-year-old was considered by many to be among the favorites to bag the year-ending trophy.
But it was not meant to be, as Rafael Nadal was beaten in the semifinals by eventual champion Daniil Medvedev despite having been a set and a break up.
The Spaniard's coach Carlos Moya, a former World No. 1 himself, recently revealed that the loss to Medvedev was a tougher setback for his ward than his Australian Open quarterfinal loss to Dominic Thiem in January.
“Losing at the Australian Open against Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals did not affect him much," Moya stated. "On the other hand, this was not really the case following his defeat in the semifinals to Daniil Medvedev, it was difficult to accept."
Moya added that Nadal was quite confident about his chances to claim a first ATP Finals title this time around, and that the loss from a winning position in the semifinals was a big blow for him.
"Rafa felt good during this Masters and he finally never felt so close to winning," Moya said. "It was hard for him to digest this loss.”
Rafael Nadal and the season-ending ATP Finals: A tale of never-ending futility
Rafael Nadal has competed in the ATP Finals on 10 occasions in his career so far, with two runner-up finishes - in 2010 and 2013 - being his best results at the event.
The Spaniard has reached the semifinals at the season-ending event four other times, but has never managed to cross the last hurdle. He has also missed the tournament on six occasions due to injury.
Rafael Nadal is currently training at his academy in Spain, ahead of the start of the 2021 season.
The Spaniard is expected to fly to Melbourne in mid-January, where he will partner with Italian Jannik Sinner in the first week of the quarantine. He will then be joined by Stan Wawrinka and Diego Schwartzman in the second week for their training.
It is not yet confirmed whether Nadal will compete in the ATP Cup, or either of the two ATP events being held in Melbourne, before the start of the Australian Open on 8 February.