November 28, 2020

How Rafael Nadal Can Qualify for the ATP Finals 2020 Semi-Finals After Losing to Dominic Thiem – EssentiallySports

Despite playing a high level of tennis, Rafael Nadal faces a precarious situation as he aims to qualify for the semi-finals of the ATP Finals 2020. Nadal defeated Andrey Rublev quite comfortably in his opening match. He then lost on Tuesday to Dominic Thiem in a match that could have gone either way, if not for just a few points.

Now, Nadal faces a must-win situation, after the other events in Group London 2020. Nadal takes on defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in a do-or-die match for qualification into the semi-finals.

Nadal will face a strong challenge as Tsitsipas is in a similar situation and the winner of the match will proceed further. Tsitsipas’ win over Rublev set up the elimination clash as Dominic Thiem qualified and Rublev was knocked out of contention.

Rafael Nadal disappointed
Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 17, 2020 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts after losing his group stage match against Austria’s Dominic Thiem REUTERS/Toby Melville

‘Win and in’ for Rafael Nadal

The good news for Nadal is that he can focus only on winning the match. The format of the ATP Finals throws up scenarios where players have to win by specific margins. If they are tied on points, the number of games lost and won over the course of their three matches in the group stage is taken into consideration. That will not be the case in the match against Tsitsipas.

Interestingly, Nadal is still in with a shot to top the group standings. If Nadal wins and Thiem loses to Rublev, Nadal can finish on top. However, that will also depend on the margin of loss for Thiem to Rublev, who is yet to win a match.

Nadal will rue the missed opportunities against Thiem. He led 5-2 with two mini-breaks in the opening set tie-break, before the Austrian stormed back to win the set. Again, in the second set, Nadal drew first blood and broke Thiem’s serve. But Thiem again forced a tie-break, which he won.

Where Nadal holds the upper-hand over Tsitsipas

Tsitsipas had a topsy-turvy match against the ATP Finals debutant Rublev. The Greek star dominated the opening stages, winning the first set 6-1 in just 19 minutes. However, Rublev stormed back to level things. He then forced Tsitsipas to save a match-point in the third set, before Tsitsipas won 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(6).

Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrating during his ATP Finals 2020 match
Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 17, 2020 Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates winning his group stage match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev REUTERS/Toby Melville

Nadal will pounce on any drop in Tsitsipas’ level of tennis. He missed that luxury against Thiem, who played some of his best tennis this year in Tuesday’s match.

Nadal will also take great confidence from the fact that he won the only ATP Finals match against Tsitsipas on an indoor hard-court. That was at the same tournament last year. It was still a thrilling contest, and with everything at stake, more of the same can be expected this time as well.

READ MORE“Confident With My Game”: Rafael Nadal Ready to Take on Stefanos Tsitsipas at ATP Finals 2020