The final places have been claimed in the race to play in the ATP Final in Turin later this month – with doubts emerging over Rafael Nadal will take his place in the line-up.
Nadal was beaten 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 by America’s Tommy Paul in an alarmingly limp display at the Paris Masters, with the final set casting a doubt over his eagerness to play on this season.
Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev claimed the final two spots for the season finale, which will be played in Turin from 13-20 November.
Auger-Aliassime and Rublev join Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev in the field for the end-of-season finals.
Yet Andy Murray’s former coach Mark Petchey was among those asking questions over Nadal’s participation in the ATP Finals, as he posed the question on Amazon TV.
“Does Nadal need to be in Turin, or would it be better for him to go away and prepare to try and defend his title at the Australian Open,” questioned the always astute Petchey.
We will get the answers soon, with ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi welcoming confirmation of the final eight for Turin.
“The Nitto ATP Finals celebrates the best of the best in our game,” he stated.
“Everything’s on the line for the players, whose remarkable achievements this season have earned them a chance to compete for its final title.
“Over more than 50 years this special event has created unique and unforgettable experiences for millions of fans, both in the arena and around the world.
“We’re thrilled to see the Nitto ATP Finals continue its incredible story in Turin this season.”
Former Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander is among those uncertain over Nadal’s eagerness to play in Turin as he told Eurosport: “Having won two Majors, you would think he wants to (play the ATP Finals). But not really sure where he is at.
“Obviously, having become a father, (the) perspectives are slightly different.
“At the same time, you’ve got to hold on to what’s made you who you are and what makes you feel good. And for him it’s playing matches and competing – winning or losing.”
Nadal is embroiled in a contest with Carlos Alcaraz to claim the year-end world No 1 ranking, with Alcaraz winning is first match in Paris 6-4, 6-4 against Yoshihito Nishioka.
“First round in every tournament is never easy,” Alcaraz said after the latest win.
“You have to be really focussed, you have to try to get good rhythm, good feeling in the first round. I’m really happy with the performance, the level that I played, and I’m looking forward to getting better in the next round.
“I had to get used to this court in the match. I felt it was fast, this court, but I’m a good player on indoor courts. These kind of courts help me with my game.”
While Alcaraz is clearly feeling upbeat ahead of his appearance in the ATP Finals, his compatriot Nadal is facing an uncertain immediate future.
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