World number 1 Rafael Nadal has announced that he is ending his incredible 2017 season following a three-set loss to David Goffin Monday night in London.
Nadal has suffered from a knee injury in recent weeks that forced him to withdraw from tournaments in Basel and Paris. Those absences sparked speculation that the Spaniard would even participate in London for the Nitto ATP Finals. Nadal has never won the year-end event and announced last week that he would play despite not being at 100 percent.
But following his match against Goffin, which lasted over 2 1/2 hours, the world number 1, who is guaranteed to keep his ranking after the tournament, announced that he would be pulling out of the tournament.
“No. I am off. My season is finished. I had a commitment with the event, with the city, with myself. I tried hard. I did the things that I had to do to try to be ready to play. But I really am not able to play,” Nadal said.
Nadal’s countryman, Pablo Carreno Busta, will take his place as an alternate at the tournament.
According to statistics compiled by Tennis TV, Nadal ran over 7,600 meters during Monday night’s match. Earlier in the week, Goffin said in a press conference that his plan had been to test the Spaniard in that way.
“I’m sure I can play some good tennis against him. I’ll try and play some good rallies, be aggressive and make him run a lot,” Goffin said.
The world number 1, who clinched the top spot after a single win in Paris prior to his withdrawal there, told reporters that he knew the match against Goffin would be his last of 2017 even before its conclusion.
“I know during the match. I take during the match, even winning, even losing, I gonna’ pull out because I was not enjoying (being) on court at all,” Nadal said. “It was not fun to play like this.”
Nadal did take time to reflect on the monumental year that he has had following years of struggles with both injuries and inconsistent form.
“I am of course disappointed, but I am not gonna’ cry. I had a great season,” Nadal said. “I really appreciate all the things that happening to me during the whole season.”
2017 saw Nadal reclaim his place among the world’s best players beginning with a surprise run to the final of the Australian Open. The renaissance continued during the clay season when Rafa dominated much his cutoff-wearing, long locks-sporting teenage self of the distant past. That portion culminated in an unprecedented 10th victory at Roland Garros. Nadal also won his third U.S. Open in September and closed Roger Federer’s lead in the record for men’s major titles at 19 to 16.
In a pre-tournament interview, Nadal alluded to the possibility that he might have won the ATP Finals by now if the surface of the event were to rotate and therefore include clay.
“I believe that it’s not fair that a player like me really never played on a surface that was a little bit more favorable,” the world number 1, dubbed the King of Clay, said. “I always played on the worst surface possible for me.”
After announcing his decision to withdraw from the tournament, Nadal acknowledged that he has dealt with similar injuries in the past and is not overly concerned with recovering in time to be ready and healthy for the beginning of 2018.
“I know what I have to do. I know all the things that happened in the past when I had these things. I know the treatment that I have to do, I know the periods of time that I need to work,” Nadal said. “Then if the treatment works or not, we will see.”
Ever the gentleman, Nadal ended his last press conference of the season by wishing the press an early Merry Christmas.