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Prefer No. 2 than No. 3, but won't play more to achieve a better ranking: Rafael Nadal on the possibility of Dominic Thiem overtaking him

Rafael Nadal will take on Dominic Thiem at the 2020 ATP Finals on Tuesday
Rafael Nadal will take on Dominic Thiem at the 2020 ATP Finals on Tuesday
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 17 Nov 2020, 13:03 IST
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Rafael Nadal could possibly end the season as World No. 3 - one spot behind Dominic Thiem - if the results at the Nitto ATP Finals go a certain way. But Nadal claims he is not overly concerned about that, even though he would prefer finishing as No. 2 (his current ranking) rather than No. 3.

The last time Rafael Nadal finished outside the top 2 in the year-end world rankings was 2016, when he was hampered by a wrist injury. The Spaniard finished that season as World No. 9.

"Well, I prefer to finish No. 2 than No. 3," Nadal said. "But as you can feel, I said since a lot of years ago, no, I will not follow the ranking, playing more events or playing things that I think goes against my body, against my future to try to achieve a better ranking, no? I know I have to play well when I have to play well. And if I am playing well there, that’s gonna be my position on the ranking. If it’s second, great. If it’s first, better. If it’s third, still a positive year, no?"
Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem
Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem face off in their second round-robin match at the ATP Finals. Both won their opening matches on Sunday, and there is a possibility that the winner of their matchup could qualify for the semifinals on Tuesday itself.

Rafael Nadal will advance to the semifinals if he defeats Dominic Thiem in straight sets, or if he beats Thiem in three and Andrey Rublev defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas in the other group match on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, if Dominic Thiem defeats Nadal and Tsitsipas beats Rublev, the Austrian will advance to the last four at the end of Tuesday's play.

I have to be smart in terms of decide which goals are more important for me: Rafael Nadal

There is more at stake than just a semifinal spot over the next couple of matches though. If Rafael Nadal loses to both Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and the Austrian goes on to win the title in London without losing any match, he would overtake Nadal and finish the season as World No. 2.

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Rafael Nadal at the 2020 ATP Finals
Rafael Nadal at the 2020 ATP Finals

But Rafael Nadal asserted that he needs to prioritize his goals at this stage of his career. He will not add more events to his schedule just to ensure a higher ranking, as he needs to be smart about his long-term future.

"So that’s my approach, and that’s the way that I see my calendar today," Nadal went on. "I have to be smart in terms of decide which goals are more important for me, and I think me and all my team we know very clear what’s the most important things for my tennis career."
Published 17 Nov 2020, 13:03 IST
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