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 looking ahead to the 2023 season after a bittersweet season, suffering four straight defeats for the first time since 2009 and setting his sights on a strong comeback in Australia in January.
Rafa reached the ATP Finals following an early loss at the Paris Masters, hoping to improve his game and get some rhythm in the closing stages of the season. Still, he lost matches to Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime and crushed semifinal chances.
Nadal knows that his level has dropped after missing a couple of months. Still, he seems keen to win it back next season, determined to give it his all to restore his A-game. Felix was the favorite against Rafa, beating a 22-time Major winner for the first time following a 6-3, 6 triumph. -4 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.
Rafael Nadal turns his attention to the 2023 season.
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. Auger-Aliassime saved break points on two service games in the opener and grabbed a break in game eight for 6-3.
The Canadian secured another break in the third game of the second set and controlled the score until the end for his first ATP Finals win. “I have had a difficult six months and I have to accept it. After all, it is a positive thing to compete in the ATP finals, and that is the main thing.”
What has happened in the last couple of weeks is not a huge surprise. I’m sad about the results, but it can happen. I’ve played two tournaments in three weeks, which is good, since I couldn’t do it for a while. I didn’t forget to play tennis or how to be mentally strong.
I must recover the positive feelings and confidence to return to the desired level. I don’t know if I will reach that level again, but I will die and do everything to get there,” Rafael Nadal said.