Rafael Nadal says he is “going to die” trying to return to the level of tennis that saw him capture a record 22 Grand Slam singles titles after his hopes of a first ever ATP Finals title and becoming year end world number one were all but extinguished on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old Spaniard was speaking after a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in Turin.
Nadal has lost both his matches in Turin – he fell to Taylor Fritz on Sunday – and will need to win his last Green Group match against Casper Ruud to keep alive his chances.
Even then it might be out of his hands.
Ruud – who beat Auger-Aliassime in their opening clash – faces Taylor Fritz later on Tuesday and according to the ATP needs just to win a set in that match to eliminate Nadal.
That would confirm Nadal’s teenage compatriot, US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, as year-ending world number one.
“I mean, I don’t think I forget how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally,” said Nadal, who was playing in just his third singles match since the US Open in September.
“I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I…