ATP Finals: Nadal battles past Tsitsipas for semi-final spot

Rafael Nadal battled past Stefanos Tsitsipas to seal the semi-final spot in the ATP Finals

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Rafael Nadal kept his chances of winning the ATP Finals for the first time alive as he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the last round-robin match of Group London 2020 on Thursday evening in London.

The World No 2 tallied a 2-1 record to claim second place in the group behind Dominic Thiem. This is the sixth time that Nadal has reached the semi-finals of the event.

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“[To] be in the semi-finals here, in the last tournament of the year, is an important thing,” Nadal said.

“Last year, I was a little bit unlucky not to be in the semi-finals. The year before I had to pull out. It is always difficult to play here against the best players in the world every single day [at the] end of the season.

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“Most of the time, you get here a little bit tired, but this year is a little bit different… I am just excited to be in the semi-finals and I hope to be ready to try my best.”

The Spaniard double faulted to lose the second set, and let slip an early break advantage in the decider. But instead of folding, the legendary lefty played some of his best tennis to run away with the match.

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Nadal will play Daniil Medvedev, who has finished at the top of Group Tokyo 1970, in the semi-finals.

Tsitsipas, who enjoyed his breakthrough moment here last year when, aged 21, he beat Thiem in the final, was downbeat about his performance.

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“I fought hard in the second set but very disappointed with the third, I was rushing and didn’t know what I was trying to do honestly. I should have been a bit more clever,” he said.

Tsitsipas was trying to become the second-youngest player to defend his Nitto ATP Finals title. Lleyton Hewitt accomplished the feat at 21 years old in 2002. Only Ilie Nastase has lifted the trophy at the season finale in his first two appearances. The Greek finishes his season with a 29-14 record.