Rafael Nadal is out of the Paris Masters after being defeated by Tommy Paul, and the Spaniard is also not betting to win the ATP Tour Finals.
Paul, ranked no. 31 in the world, cruised to a 3-6 7-6(4) 6-1 victory over the world no. 2 Nadal, who had not played since teaming up with rival Roger Federer at the Laver Cup.
After the first set, the American came back to break Nadal at love for 2-2 in the second.
Paul then broke Nadal’s serve three times in the deciding set to seal victory, denying the Spaniard a chance to return to the top of the world rankings.
“I think he played aggressively, a lot of great shots. I had my match in that second set with a set and a break,” Nadal said after the match. “Yeah, I didn’t deserve the win by playing so badly[ly] at that key moment, no.
“So far so good, good game for me. Knowing it’s my first game in a while,” he said. It was the first Christmas game since he and his wife welcomed a child last month.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner, who appeared injured against Paul, added that he hoped to reach the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy and had “nothing to lose”.
The prestigious ATP Finals, which end the season, will take place from November 13 to 20.
This is a tournament for which Nadal has already qualified with his ranking position, although remarkably, given that the Spaniard has won those 22 Grand Slam titles, he has never been successful in the Finals ATP, despite reaching the final twice.
“Just give me the chance to enjoy another World Tour Final, right? You never know when it’s going to be the last, especially at my age. So I’ll do my best to enjoy this one, and then next year of course I’ll fight to get back there,” said the 36-year-old.
“I need to put everything into perspective and I’m going to keep doing my best, and I need to be healthy enough to spend days on tour. That’s it.”
However, Nadal did not seem confident of his chances in Turin, adding that it is “hard to imagine now coming to the World Tour Finals in shape, in good enough shape to win a tournament like this that I didn’t win throughout my tennis career.”