Rafael Nadal believes it is very important for him to get off to a good start at the Nitto ATP Finals. The 20-time Slam champion takes on Russia's Andrey Rublev in his first group match at the season-ending event on Sunday.
Nadal is placed along with Rublev, US Open champion Dominic Thiem and defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, and the 20-time Slam champion called it a 'very dificult' group.
“It's a very difficult group, and matches that will inevitably be very closely contested on this surface. The first match will be fundamental. Last year, I arrived after an injury and couldn't win. It will be very important to start well and I hope to be ready,” Nadal said.
Rafael Nadal's workload has been rather light this year due to the truncated season. He has played only one indoor hardcourt event in the lead-up to the ATP Finals - the Paris Masters, where he lost to German Alexander Zverev in the semifinals.
But the Spaniard believes the match practice he got at Bercy has helped him get acclimatized to the conditions a little.
"I don’t know how close I was to a perfect preparation. The four matches in Bercy should help and I have two more days to prepare for a tough opening match against Rublev," Nadal continued.
It's not fair to finish the ATP Finals in London without the crowd: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal has never won the season-ending ATP Finals, despite having played it nine times. This is Nadal's last chance to win it in London, given that the event moves to Turin from 2021.
The ATP Finals will be played behind closed doors this year due to the rising coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom. And Nadal feels that is not the ideal way for the event's last hurrah, after an incredibly successful run at the O2 Arena.
"The experience to play the finals in London has been one of the best. It was one of the best events. The ATP did a great job in choosing London. It is not fair to finish the finals without crowd. But an event like this needs to move around the world," Nadal commented.
Meanwhile the in-form Andrey Rublev, who has won a tour-leading five titles in 2020, chose to underplay his chances against Rafael Nadal. The Russian described Nadal as one of the best players in the history of the sport, and implied that he would be the heavy favorite going into the match.
"Rafael Nadal is one of the best players in the history (of the sport). All the pressure will be on him. All the matches are really tough, the best players are here. I am looking forward to the tournament," Rublev said.Published 13 Nov 2020, 20:33 IST