Rafael Nadal will appreciate all he has achieved in 2022, claiming two major titles and missing out on a chance to become world number one. 1 at the US Open. Still, the 36-year-old is already thinking about the 2023 season, suffering four straight losses since New York and setting his eyes on a strong comeback in Australia in January.
Rafa reached the ATP finals after an early loss at the Paris Masters, hoping to improve his game and pick up some rhythm. Instead, the Spaniard is 0-2 in Turin this week following losses to Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Felix was the favorite against Rafa, beating a winner of 22 Majors for the first time after a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in one hour and 57 minutes.
The Canadian fired 15 aces and defended all five break points to put pressure on the other side. The Spaniard did his best to keep in touch, but was unable to keep up with the rival. Rafa dropped serve once in each set to propel the youngster over the finish line.
Felix held a massive 31-16 advantage in game winners and built his victory on the shorter range of as many as four shots. Nadal played better in extended rallies but couldn’t keep it safe until at least a tiebreaker.
Auger-Aliassime set the pace with 29 winners and 23 unforced errors. Rafa failed to impose either his serve or his forehand, finishing the match with 12 winners and 19 unforced errors. Felix saved two break points in the first game of the encounter, and they held neck to neck until 3-3.
Rafael Nadal has turned his attention to the 2023 season.
The Canadian faced another test in game seven when his volley landed long, offering the Spaniard two more break chances. Felix kept his cool and denied both with forehand winners.
Rafa opened up a 40-0 lead in the eighth game before experiencing disaster! He wasted four game points and faced a break opportunity after the Canadian’s forehand down the line winner. Rafa lost serve after a wayward forehand, and Felix held on in game nine for 6-3 in 53 minutes.
Nadal wasted two game points at 1-1 in the second set and offered his opponent a break point after a big forehand error into the net. Rafa saved her before spraying a volley error in the second to fall 2-1 behind. Auger-Aliassime cemented the lead with a check in the fourth game and moved closer to the finish line.
Rafa erased a break point in game five and created a break chance in the next when Felix hit a routine forehand. The Canadian saved it with a powerful serve and held on for 4-2. Auger-Aliassime carved out a 5-3 lead on a service winner in game eight and served for the win in game ten.
Auger-Aliassime wrapped up the tenth game with a service winner to emerge on top for his first ATP Finals triumph. “I’ve been through a super difficult couple of months. I have to focus on the 2023 season in a couple of days; that’s the main goal.
I can’t do anything but keep working on my game and give myself the chance to get off to a solid start to next season. I don’t know what can happen in Australia in January; There is still a month and a half left for the first games.
The last six months have been challenging and I have to accept the upcoming challenges. I have to work hard to get back the items I lost after not being able to practice or compete properly. I have to stay positive and prepare for a bit more fighting before I restore my game,” Rafael Nadal said.