The Spaniard beat Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday in three sets. His qualification for the semi-final depends on the result of the match Medvedev-Zverez in the evening.
Victory, or nothing. To maintain a hope of reaching the semi-finals of the Masters, the tennis competition that brings together this week in London the eight best players of the season, Rafael Nadal had only one option: win Friday, November 15, his third and last match of the group stage against Stefanos Tsitsipas, for his part already qualified for this last square.
The win, the Spaniard won at the end of a very close match, beating the Greek in three sets (6-7, 6-4, 7-5). However, this victory, if it was necessary, is not enough to ensure a place in the semifinals.
The fate of Rafael Nadal depends on the result of the match between Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev in the evening on Friday. The German (who won his first match and lost the second) may deprive Nadal of the last four if he beats the Russian (who lost his first two games).
World number one spot
Titled 19 times in the Grand Slam tournaments (the four major tournaments of the circuit), but never victorious Masters, the Spaniard had arrived in London, there is nearly a week, accompanied by questions about his physical condition . Victim of an abdominal injury in early November, he had to withdraw before the semifinal of the Masters 1000 Paris-Bercy.
His entry into the competition on Monday in London, had not really raised these questions: he had lost in two sets (6-2, 6-4) against the German Alexander Zverev. The Spaniard had, however, assured that "The physical problem" was "Absolutely not an excuse." "The only excuse is that I have not been good enough".
For his second match, against the Russian Daniil Medvedev he had not, at first, given pledges of solidity, before snatching a victory somewhat miraculous (6-7, 6-3, 7-6 ) in a third set where he was led 5-1.
Friday, he returned a situation that was unfavorable early in the game.
Whatever the end of his career in London, he already has a certainty: he will end the world number one year. His most direct rival, Serbian Novak Djokovic, was eliminated from the Masters (after his loss to Roger Federer on Thursday night) and can not take his place.
This is the fifth time that Rafael Nadal is so sacred (after 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017). He joins Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Only American Pete Sampras has done better, with six world number one titles.
A semi-final for a first participation
Stefanos Tsitsipas concluded the group stage with two wins in three games. And so a qualification for the semifinals that he already had in his pocket even before the match against Rafael Nadal.
For a first participation in the Masters, the course is, for the moment, successful. Leading figure in the so-called "Next Gen", the 22-year-old ranked sixth-ranked Greek had arrived in London for a run in the (lost) final of the Beijing tournament.
He had previously gone through a complicated summer, coming out of contention in four tournaments (Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open, Zhuhai). A period that had forgotten a strong start to the season, with a semifinal in Melbourne, then successes in Marseille and Estoril and finals in Dubai and Madrid.
Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Dominic Thiem or Roger Federer in the semifinals.