Rafael Nadal withdraws from ATP Finals after gruelling defeat by David Goffin

Simon Briggs
The Telegraph
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the ATP Finals with severe knee pain - CameraSport
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the ATP Finals with severe knee pain - CameraSport

Rafael Nadal was so determined to play at the O2 Arena that he pushed through unsustainable pain in his right knee. But after losing a gruelling three-setter against David Goffin, he took the decision that he should probably have made a week ago, and withdrew from the rest of the tournament.

Asked last night if he intended to continue in the ATP Nitto Finals, Nadal replied “No, I am off. My season is finished. I had the commitment with the event, with the city, with myself. I tried hard. But I am really not ready to play, no?

“I really fighted a lot during the match, but knowing that probably was a big chance to be the last match of the season. Is about the pain. I cannot hold with enough power to keep playing. I tried, but seriously was miracle to be very close in the score during the match.”

It is not in Nadal’s nature to duck a challenge, and he defied his injury to save four match points in the second set. Yet the only effect was to prolong the suffering. After Goffin’s 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 victory – which occupied fully 2hr 37min – he had no chance of recovering in time to face Dominic Thiem on Wednesday. Pablo Carreno Busta, who reached the US Open semi-final in September, will replace him for the rest of the event.

“Even winning, even losing, I going to pull out because I was not enjoying on court at all,” said Nadal. “Was not fun to play like this. I really believed that I don't deserve after this great season to spend two more days on court with this terrible feelings, no? “I am, of course, disappointed. But I am not going to cry. I had a great season. I really appreciate all the things that happened to me during the whole season. Thanks, life, for this unforgettable one.”

<span>David Goffin powers a backhand</span> <span>Credit: John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Getty Images </span>
David Goffin powers a backhand Credit: John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Getty Images

 Nadal’s magnificent showing in 2017 has been founded on his relentless energy. During his victory at the US Open in September, he was moving as well and as quickly as at any time in his career. But problems began to surface in Shanghai, where he was struggling during his defeat to Roger Federer, and they worsened in Paris a fortnight later. For a man who can barely remember the last time he played without pain, the length of the season was bound to take its toll in the end.

Alarmingly, Nadal has now qualified for ATP Nitto Finals 13 times and pulled out six times on fitness grounds. “Is an event I missed too many times in my career,” he said. “Is true that I am probably the top player that had more injuries and more troubles in the careers of everyone, no? But I am used to this and I know what I have to do. I think I am ready to do it.”

Now he will have to go back to the same treatments he has used for years to offset his physical frailties. “I know the treatment that I had to do. I know the periods of time that I need to work. Then if the treatment works or not, we will see.”

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