It’s been more than seven years since Rafael Nadal won a title indoors and 15 since his last indoor-hard success, but he is hoping to wave goodbye to London with a first ATP Finals win this week.
Of his 86 ATP titles only two have come indoors and Nadal, the world No. 2 from Spain, admitted that the surface is not ‘ideal’ for his tennis.
Nadal has failed to win the title at the O2 in seven attempts and although he has twice reached the final, he has only once been past the round robin stage since 2013.
The French Open champion has been forced to skip the tournament outright on four occasions during its stint in London, often citing fatigue after a long season. But with the coronavirus pandemic significantly reducing the number of tournaments played in 2020, Nadal should arrive relatively fresh.
And despite his failure to land many indoor titles, he is hoping for one final push to secure an elusive ATP Finals win at the O2 this week.
‘We can find excuses or reasons but at the end of the day the numbers are the numbers,’ said Nadal on Friday.
‘I play less indoors if we compare to outdoors in my tennis career but at the same time it is true what you say.
‘There are reasons, the indoors is not an ideal surface for my tennis since the beginning of my career, the last couple of years has been better than the beginning of my career without a doubt but that’s the numbers and I can’t say something different.
‘I hope to change that this week.’
This year’s edition is unlike any previous year at the O2, with no fans admitted into the arena amid ongoing restrictions in the UK.
Despite the disappointment of playing in an empty stadium in the final ATP Finals in London before it moves to Turin, Nadal is grateful that the event is going ahead at all.
‘We are in the hotel next to the 02, different conditions, we cannot even walk from the hotel which is 200 metres away so we are very lucky to be able to keep playing our sport, that’s the only thing I can say,’ added Nadal.
‘I cannot be negative, I say thanks to the ATP, thanks to the tournaments, thanks to the Grand Slams to make that happen.
‘I think these are very challenging conditions of course especially playing with no crowd in this amazing stadium it’s something that is not perfect but we can play tennis so we cannot complain at all, we are very lucky.’
ATP Finals winners in London
2009 – Nikolay Davydenko
2010 – Roger Federer
2011 – Roger Federer
2012 – Novak Djokovic
2013 – Novak Djokovic
2014 – Novak Djokovic
2015 – Novak Djokovic
2016 – Andy Murray
2017 – Grigor Dimitrov
2018 – Alexander Zverev
2019 – Stefanos Tsitsipas
Asked about the success of the tournament during its 12-year stay in the UK capital, he added: ‘The experience of the playing the ATP Finals in London has been one of the best without a doubt in this stadium, the organisation has been great, it has been very popular around the world, ATP have made a great job choosing the 02 and London and creating an event for so many years.
‘An event like this one I think tennis needs to keep moving and at the same time it is not fair enough to finish the world tour finals in London without a crowd and this situation but that’s the thing that is happening today in this world.
‘We need to move because I think an event like this needs to move around the world to promote our sport so I just congratulate London for this amazing eleven years and I expect to have another great event.’
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